“It’s not abnormal to feel grief when a client or resident dies.”

Marie-Anne Schull, from Australian palliative care provider Karuna, offered this reassurance to people working in aged care. Her comments followed Karuna’s survey of 100 nurses that revealed nearly 70 percent felt that the grief and loss they experience was an issue for them at work.

“Healthcare and nursing home staff form significant relationships with their clients, patients and residents so it is not surprising that they can experience grief and loss as a result of their work,” Schull said. “Their experience of loss is often overlooked and ignored and many report burnout and mental health problems as a result.”

Schull said workplace grief and loss impacted on the ability of employees to perform their roles, and added they were more likely to be absent, struggle to concentrate, lack energy and suffer fatigue, indecisiveness and a short temper.

“What we found is that health staff overwhelmingly want further support to cope with the day to day reality of grief and loss that surrounds them at work,” Schull said.

In an interview with Australian Aged Care INsite, Schull discussed some of the complexities of losing a client or resident as well as potential coping strategies.

She suggests strategies that can be applied at the individual level that will help build resilience and aid workers’ mental health. Gratitude, mindfulness, self-care and reflective practice were all useful strategies, she said. Schull also said they looked at things they could do at the team and management level to help staff, such as peer support.

The original article as published in Australian Aged Care INsite  including the full interview with Schull, can be found here.


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