Hospice Employees' Perceptions of Their Work Environment: A Focus Group Perspective.
Burnout in healthcare professionals can lead to adverse effects on physical and mental health, lower quality of care, and workforce shortages as employees leave the profession. Hospice professionals are thought to be at particularly high risk for burnout. The purpose of the study was to evaluate workplace perceptions of interdisciplinary hospice care workers who provide care to patients at end of life. Six focus groups and one semi-structured interview were conducted with mixed group of social workers, managers, nurses, hospice aides, chaplains, support staff, and a physician (n = 19). Findings from the groups depicted both rewards and challenges of hospice caregiving. Benefits included intrinsic satisfaction from the work, receiving positive patient and family feedback, and teamwork. Challenges reflected issues with workload, technology issues, administrative demands, travel-related problems, communication and interruptions, difficulties with taking time off from work and maintaining work-life integration, and coping with witnessing grief/loss. Hospice workers glean satisfaction from making meaningful differences in the lives of patients with terminal illness and their family members. It is an expected part of the job that certain patients and situations are particularly distressing; team support and targeted grief support is available for those times. Participants indicated that workload and administrative demands rather than dealing with death and dying were the biggest contributors to burnout. Participants reported episodic symptoms of burnout followed by deliberate steps to alleviate these symptoms. Notably, for all except one of the participants, burnout was cyclical. Symptoms would begin, they would take steps to deal with it (e.g., taking a mental health day), and they recovered. At an organizational level, a multipronged approach that includes both personal and occupational strategies is needed to support professional caregivers and help mitigate the stressors associated with hospice work.
Lehto, RH; Heeter, C; Forman, J; Shanafelt, T; Kamal, A; Miller, P; Paletta, M
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