Caring for the caregivers

Healthcare workers in developing countries operate in highly stressful environments. Studies to date have shown that the majority of healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from emotional exhaustion, impacting their ability to care for their clients.

Caregivers are often expected to be fundamentally motivated by compassion for those more vulnerable than themselves – even at a cost to their emotional well-being. Nurses are expected to care for strangers in the same manner as they would care for their families, and not living up to these expectations can fuel anger and vitriol. Researchers have found that relatively short educational programmes can build resilience in healthcare professionals and decrease the levels of burnout and stress.

Healthcare workers such as nurses and community health workers are the backbone of the primary healthcare system in most low and middle-income countries. It is imperative to find ways to capacitate them with the necessary skills to deal with the emotional labour of their job. “Investment in emotional coping interventions has the potential not only to benefit the health and well-being of healthcare staff, but also to lead to a decrease in turnover rates, improve patient care and promote person-centred care,” says Dr Ruwayda Petrus.

Article by Dr Ruwayda Petrus