Alive Supports Research on Caregiver Resilience

Where would we be without caregivers? Paid or unpaid, a caregiver is someone with a unique ability to provide for others in extremely difficult circumstances. This gift doesn’t come without a price. Caregiver burnout is a reality. Those with careers in health care are just as susceptible.

Elyse Collier, BSN, RN, OCN, is researching ways to help professional caregivers take care of themselves as part of her doctoral nursing studies at Belmont University. She has partnered with Alive Institute through its academic training program to survey those who work with patients and assess which coping methods and work cultures are most effective for self-care. The results of her research will be available in spring 2019. We spoke with Collier to find out more.

What inspired you to research this topic?

I developed a passion for end-of-life care during my time as an oncology nurse. I, like many others, believe it is a privilege to care for patients and their families during end of life. It is a humbling experience that involves embracing the vulnerability of patients and their families and walking alongside them in their journey.
I also began to realize the difficult balance of my own well-being. I started reaching out to my coworkers and found they, too, were experiencing a similar struggle. However, I also encountered coworkers who did not share the struggle, but rather were satisfied with their balance of end-of-life care and personal well-being.

What are the most effective coping skills you have witnessed for caregivers? How have you learned to take care of yourself?

Education on coping skills and end-of-life care are great for those of us working in this field. Staff support groups, prayer groups, remembrance ceremonies, end-of-life debriefings, team collaboration, and team emotional support are all effective.

I have discovered that to continue doing what I love, I have to take time for myself. This does not consist of one thing; it includes reaching out to coworkers/friends/family I can draw support from and taking time alone.
What recharges me is good for my soul – traveling, reading, time spent with my dog, the dollar section at Target, and prayer.  Some weeks I am great at this, and others not so much.  As a result, I have recently begun scheduling my self-care time.