Caring for Yourself
People on their end-of-life journey don't travel this road alone. The health care workforce team caring for them are on this end-of-life journey too, and also need to be mindful of taking care of themselves.
The emotional nature of working closely with clients and their family at one of the most difficult times of their lives can be challenging. While this can be rewarding and fulfilling most of the time, it can be overwhelming and difficult to face at other times.
For health staff whom are only occasionally involved with end-of-life care, this role may be confronting and distressing. In primary health care settings, a journey that started as providing health care for a client with a chronic disease may eventually transition into end-of-life care. Sharing the end-of-life care journey can sometimes leave health professionals and workers stressed, fatigued, and emotionally drained. It's normal for health care providers to become attached to the people in their care, especially when a relationship has existed for a significant period of time.
Health care workers can experience some of the symptoms of grief when witnessing a decline in the health of the people they care for, and when they have passed on. This is especially so for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, who often also have a personal or kin-based relationship with their clients, in addition to providing health care for them. Naturally, deeper feelings of grief are likely if you know or are related to the grieving families. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers experience a high number of deaths within their client, family and community groups. The accumulation of bereavements and losses within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has a profound impact and can intensify and prolong grief and loss experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers. [1-3]