Compassion Fatigue: Reducing Stress for DSPs and Direct Care Staff

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It is sometimes challenging to work as a direct support professional (DSP). There are many demands placed on direct care staff which can create stress. Due to this fact, DSPs need strategies for dealing with the expectations placed on them.

DSPs must help and care about the individuals for whom they are providing supportive services. However, this expectation of long-term support can sometimes have a grueling effect on a direct care staff's mental and emotional health.

What is Compassion Fatigue:

There is a term for this burned-out feeling, and it is sometimes called compassion fatigue. Staff members may feel like they can only give so much. Sometimes support staff may feel like their well has run dry and they are burned out.

The term compassion fatigue is used to describe healthcare, emergency and community service workers who experience higher levels of stress due to the unique nature of their professions. This stress can cause caregivers to suffer from feelings of burnout. Caregiver burnout can create a state of mental and physical exhaustion with reduced coping abilities.

Over time the ability to provide empathetic and caring support is diminished. Beyond providing care, administrative and regulatory requirements can also add one more layer of stress. Paper spreadsheets and timecards may have worked in the past, but now internet-based, database solutions are expected.

Federal and state mandates for electronic visit verification (EVV), as well as other documentation requirements, force healthcare workers to use new technologies and procedures. These unfamiliar protocols can increase the level of stress in both direct care staff and supervisors. These technological requirements add and additional level of stress.

Compassion Fatigue Symptoms:

A few signs of compassion fatigue include irritability, negative feelings, exhaustion and a reduced ability to feel empathy. These symptoms can lead to increased absenteeism, health issues and strained relations with the individuals for whom they are providing services. In more extreme cases, people may suffer from depression and anxiety disorders or have an elevated risk for drug use and addiction.

It is to everyone's benefit if feelings of burnout are addressed and remedied. DSPs need to stay healthy and focused on their tasks. It is normal to feel stress, but these emotions should not disrupt a person's life.

Potential Remedies:

When dealing with compassion fatigue or general levels of stress, here are five general tips to follow:

  • Create a work life balance: people should have interest outside of their professions. This can be anything they find enjoyable or relaxing. Examples include reading, sports, gardening, etc.
  • Organize and plan: the more organized people are in their lives, the less likely they will feel like things are out of control. Running late, misplacing items and forgetting appointments adds more stress to an individual's daily life.
  • Have a positive outlook: life is challenging. Sometimes things just do not work out. People cannot control all outcomes, but they can control their feelings about an outcome. No one is perfect and people should resist the temptation for perfection. Situations can be improved, but the pursuit of perfection will likely create disappointment.
  • Time off and self-care: Everyone needs to disconnect from their daily tasks. Even taking a few minutes off can help people lower their internal stress levels. Activities such as yoga or deep breathing exercises will allow people to let go of stress. At the same time, DSPs should strive to develop and maintain healthy life habits. This includes good nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep. A healthy body is better able to successfully handle stress.
  • Do not be afraid: If people are unable to find relief for their stress, they should not be afraid to seek help. Talking over a problem with someone they trust is a step in the right direction. Seeking help from their supervisor or a therapist is helpful. The goal is to find ways to deal with the stress.

In the end, a sense of patience, respect and appreciation will go a long way in overcoming compassion fatigue and general feelings of being burned out.

About Us

RevUp Billing provides professional billing services for healthcare professionals. Our eWebSchedule software solution is a package of tools specifically designed for the unique administrative needs of Ohio Waiver Provider Agencies that deliver support for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Our suite of software tools is just one of the many services offered by RevUp Billing. We deliver a variety of solutions for healthcare professionals, including account management & billing services for waiver provider agencies.

As a company with a long history in Ohio, RevUp Billing has an established track record. We provide services and tools that optimize a provider agency's administrative and billing process. As an Ohio-based company, we are familiar with the unique needs and challenges facing Ohio waiver provider agencies. At the end of the day, eWebSchedule's tools streamline an agency's operational tasks and administrative expenses.

RevUp Billing provides experienced and professional billing and software services for I-DD waiver provider agencies. They have proudly delivered exceptional billing and software supportive services for over 25 years.

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Updated from original article published on January 14, 2021

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