Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tough News

A couple of clients of mine have recently passed away.

One of them one her 50's, having been cleared of cancer for 3 years and it suddenly came back too strong to handle. She was just getting her life back -- back to work, back to gardening, back to vacationing...

The other one is a lady in her 90's whose family had refused to take her to the hospital claiming it was a case of "cry wolf". When I saw her last a month ago, I sent her to the hospital because she was in major trouble and she never did come back out. I feel terrible that we were too late. I've never had contact with her family but it smells like some elder abuse may have been going on.

So work yesterday started a bit rough with the news. This is one part of what I do that is the toughest. Because I get fairly involved with people, the emotional load becomes part of my work. Over time it takes a toll.

I've read that health care workers ideally ought to spend only 3 days a week in direct people contact and the rest doing something entirely different. I didn't know about this recommendation before I had gradually shaved down my work week. And vacations are recommended to be ideally 2 weeks duration at any one time.

Burn out and secondary traumatic stress (stress/trauma that is felt from hearing and handling heavy stories and cases all the time) is very high in the helping fields as well as high rates of career change. I see examples of this in and around me.

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