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With amounting pressure on nurses and midwives, it's important to get the right support for burnout.

‘Reclaim your health’: burnout tips for aged care nurses

Overworked, overstretched, and overstressed – it is no secret that aged-care nurses are burning out and quitting their jobs across Australia.

Data from the Department of Health and Aged Care shows that since 2016, there has been a 60 per cent increase in nurses who have taken an extended leave of absence.

Research by the Australian Primary Healthcare Nurses Association also found that 30 per cent were planning to leave their job within the next five years. 

Nurses in residential aged care account for 23 per cent of the workforce, with over half being a young person.

New nursing mandates, staffing shortages and workplace conditions have caused further strain on the workforce, breeding an environment of burnout.

Young nurses bear the brunt

The last few years have placed an exceptionally high burden on young nurses. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare identified a 25 per cent increase in young nurses in Australia. However, many of these early career healthcare workers end up leaving due to burnout.

Linda Williams, clinical lead at ReachOut, said young nurses could be more susceptible to burnout due to the abrupt shift from university coursework to full-time work.

“For young nurses, they may be experiencing a transition from learning and training into full-time work, in addition to the stressful nature of the job,” Ms Williams said.

“Working in a complex job where there are often significant demands can contribute to a sense of constant stress.” 

“Eventually, too much stress on your body over a long period can cause burnout. And that burnout is a state of complete mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.”

Ms Williams said the best approach to tackle burnout is to be proactive and practice good sleep habits, exercise, and use your downtime to “recharge batteries in ways that bring you joy”.

“For those nurses who are experiencing burnout or are concerned about it, it is important to seek help and learn more,” Ms Williams said.

“That might be by booking an appointment with your GP, getting more info via a mental health service, or even speaking to your manager if you feel comfortable doing so.”

For the nurses, by the nurses

Nurse and Midwife Support is Australia's first national phone and online service to offer confidential advice, referrals, and support for nurses, midwives, graduates, and students nationwide.

The team is run by nurses and midwives, highlighting the importance of mentors. 

“Many nurses that call us are experiencing burnout, but they don’t know how to describe what’s happening to them,” a spokesperson told Nursing Review.

“If you are feeling burnout, the good news is that it’s possible to reclaim your health and feel well again by implementing various strategies and tips.”

The first step in preventing burnout is to develop a health plan that includes mindfulness and support.

“Learn when to stop, do breathing exercises, reflect, and then access support.”

“From there, start prioritising your health.” 

Nurse and Midwife Support said that when experiencing burnout, professionals should take a step back and re-evaluate the minor and significant details in their lives.

“Take your entitlements like a mental health day, set boundaries at work, develop a career plan, and get support.”

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