Healing the Healers: Using experience-based co-design approach to address occupational burnout among health care workers in long-term care

Boamah, Sheila A | $227,181

Ontario McMaster University 2022 CIHR Operating Grant

Before COVID-19, burnout was common among health care workers (HCWs), but now, up to 70% of HCWs are at increased risk of burnout and mental health concerns. HCWs especially those in long-term care (LTC) homes are facing greater risk of burnout and many (up to 64%) reported feeling emotionally exhausted and are unable to give proper care to residents because of heavy workload, staff shortages and stress of witnessing high (82% COVID-related) deaths among residents. Because of this, some HCWs have left their jobs which places even more pressure on the remaining staff, causing even greater burnout. As stress levels among HCWs continue to rise, supporting the personal health and well-being of those working in LTC is urgent if we are to improve the quality of life of residents and caregivers. During these difficult times, we need solutions that reduce, if not get rid of, the risk of burnout among HCWs. For this project, our goal is to reduce burnout among HCWs in LTC and improve workers’ health and well-being by creating together (co-design) with HCWs potential solutions/interventions and programs that they view to be most effective. We will host a series of meetings and activities with a team of HCWs (e.g., PSWs, nurses, managers) from Ontario LTC homes, to share ideas and get a good understanding of their work experiences, the LTC home during COVID, and resident care. Together, we will identify the top key issues that put workers at greater risk of burnout and design healthy workplace strategies and policies to reduce stress and burnout. This joint effort to create a workplace wellness program with HCWs will ensure that the most effective and appropriate supports are in place to help workers in LTC. Results from our study not only will benefit the selected LTC homes but can also, be applied in other LTC homes across Canada. Ultimately, the knowledge we gain will be used to create wider public and mental health services for HCWs in LTC and other health settings.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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