How to Prevent Carer Burnout with Better Scheduling

Asha Neil

Written on 8 November, 2022
Caregiver burnout can lead to poor mental health, a reduced quality of care and low retention rates. Tackling burnout isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a strategic imperative.

Caregivers deserve to be able to dedicate themselves to their job while also maintaining good health. Unfortunately, for many workers, that's not the case: up to 70% of aged care workers have experienced burnout in recent years.

But while burnout is endemic among caregivers, it’s not inevitable. Keep reading for ways to support your team through better scheduling so they can feel positive about their work.

The Risk of Caregiver Burnout

Professional caregivers often suffer burnout due to their work. While on shift, they regularly experience stressful situations and high pressure, in addition to long hours. In turn, this can severely impact caregivers' mental health.

Signs of caregiver burnout include physical exhaustion, mood swings and emotional distress, poor judgement, a higher tendency to make mistakes and a reduced quality of care. It can also lead to increased turnover as chronic caregiver burnout causes workers to question their choice of a career path.

On the other hand, when your caregivers feel motivated and engaged by their work, they'll perform better. Their improved well-being will enable them to handle a stressful situation with ease. You'll also see better employee retention and higher client satisfaction levels.

Support groups and lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, can help your team manage caregiver stress and reduce burnout symptoms. However, this is not a substitute for a good work-life balance. One of the best ways you can support your caregivers is by improving your scheduling so that they're less likely to experience burnout.

Poor Scheduling Can Increase Caregiver Stress

Employees working shifts, as opposed to office hours, are already more likely to experience burnout. Scheduling, however, can make the situation far worse for your carers — or far better.

Poor scheduling can leave caregivers stressed, short on sleep or struggling to balance their work with other responsibilities, such as picking up their children from school. It can make a healthy work life balance feel impossible.

As a result, your caregivers will be at risk of becoming drained and demotivated. The sensation of having no control over their lives can quickly turn into caregiver burnout.

5 Scheduling Tips to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

While poor scheduling can leave your caregivers exhausted, good scheduling will help you avoid caregiver burnout.

1. Give Care Workers Control Over Their Schedules

Make work schedules flexible enough that they can fit around a caregiver's life, whether your staff are parents, part-time students or simply working multiple jobs.

Before you create your schedules, get your caregivers to select their ideal shifts. This will better allow them to achieve a healthy work life balance.

Consider also allowing shift swaps without questions or justifications, so that caregivers can practise self-care and make the changes necessary to look after their personal health — both mental and physical.

2. Match Carers and Clients Carefully

Thoughtful matching of caregivers and clients can go a long way to preventing caregiver burnout. Factors to take into account include physical distance, qualifications and individual caregivers' skill sets.

Make sure to listen to caregivers' feedback. If they tell you that it’s proving difficult for them to connect with a specific client or that they find a client particularly draining, try to reallocate them. Although it might give your team a little more admin work, it will allow your caregivers to work at their best.

3. Reduce Travel Time

When caregivers have to commute for long hours or rush from one client to another, their work can become exhausting. However, when caregivers receive a shift with limited travel time, it will make preventing burnout much easier.

Pay attention to how long caregivers have to spend travelling to and from clients. Use geolocation software settings to assign caregivers to clients that either live near them or are at least geographically clustered. Don’t forget to account for public transport routes and frequencies.

4. Minimise the Time Caregivers Spend on Admin

Check how much time your caregivers are spending filling out paperwork. While progress notes and other shift records are essential, make sure you're scheduling sufficient time for them.

Ideally, your caregivers will be able to submit progress notes, arrival times, expenses and other administrative tasks while at a shift location via a staff companion app. Otherwise, the stress of completing these tasks after their shifts can exacerbate caregiver burnout.

5. Check Individual Caregivers Aren't Overscheduled

How many days a week do your caregivers work? How long are their shifts? And how much time do they have between shifts? 

When scheduling multiple caregivers and clients, it's easy to overlook common scheduling issues, such as a caregiver finishing their shift at 10pm and starting their next one at 6am. Caregivers can struggle to maintain a good work-life balance when they're regularly scheduled at antisocial hours or with short gaps between shifts.

To avoid these problems, make sure your scheduling software offers multiple views so you can hone in on individual caregivers' schedules as well as the whole team's.

Scheduling Tools That Will Create a Better Working Environment

Scheduling software that places the caregiver experience front and centre will help you prevent burnout and ensure that clients receive quality care. The best scheduling tools will also be simple and intuitive to use, so you can save time while better supporting your team.

ShiftCare's aged care software will automate schedules in minutes. Caregivers can set their availability via the companion app, while you can take a per-worker view of the individual caregivers' schedules to check that they're appropriate. Tools such as group rosters, recurring rosters and split shifts will make scheduling easier than ever, while the geolocation settings will enable you to minimise caregiver travel time.

To see how ShiftCare can make work a better experience for your caregivers and your admin team alike, try it now for free.

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