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Care for the Professional Caregivers

Wellspring’s Care for the Professional Caregiver Program was developed in response to the growing recognition of the loss, grief and occupational stressors that many front-line professionals experience in the course of their patient care responsibilities, and their effect on their personal and professional well-being.

This program was designed to provide an educational and supportive care experience for professionals who are experiencing occupational stress or wish to increase awareness of burnout and how to prevent it.  It is a professionally-led, full day program that covers the following key topic areas:

Vicarious Trauma and Loss: This is a well-known phenomenon that affects many front-line health care professionals.  It is the process of being witness on a repeated basis to the crises of others, and the loss that is part of working with seriously ill people.  Over time, vicarious trauma and loss can take a considerable personal and professional toll, inhibit compassionate caregiving, and have an adverse effect on patient-focused care.

An educational framework for understanding the dynamics of, and impact from, vicarious trauma and loss is presented, including a reflective process for self-assessment.  The presentation includes an opportunity for meaningful, shared de-briefing.

Workplace Coping Strategies : Recognizing that grief, loss and other stressors are an inherent part of the professional experience, a cognitive behavioural coping model is presented.  This model was developed specifically for use in the workplace, and provides a tool for new ways of adapting and responding to day-to-day stressors.

Self-care : Productive self-care practices can enhance both the professional and personal dimensions of one’s life, and improve both overall well-being as well as quality of patient care.  An underlying theme of self-care is that each person is responsible for managing stress and taking charge of well-being.  Strategies for healthy self-care practices are addressed, and techniques that can be accessed in the workplace are taught.

Evidence for Program Efficacy

Wellspring evaluates all of its programs on an ongoing basis.  Evaluative feedback for the Care for the Professional Caregivers program has been consistently outstanding, with almost 100% satisfaction ratings for the program content, leadership, and recommendation of the program for colleagues.

In addition to the evaluative feedback, Wellspring led a research project to assess the effectiveness of the program in reducing the experience burn-out in the workplace.  Results showed that program participation impacted significantly on a measure of emotional exhaustion, which is a key ingredient of burn-out.  The study was published in the Journal of Cancer Education, and is available here

Logistics and Cost

This is a full day, fee-for-service program, which accommodates a maximum of 20 participants.  It is a combined psychoeducational and supportive care program, led by three experts who specialize in professional caregiver support.

The program fee is $4000*, inclusive of:

  • Pre-program meeting between program leaders and managers who wish this program for their staff
  • Adaptation, if needed, to address the specific concerns of the organization accessing the program
  • Wellspring centre venue
  • Leadership of three experienced professionals
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Program evaluation and compiled evaluation report.

* Understanding the budgetary constraints within the health care system broadly, Wellspring considers reduced costs for multiple sessions

Program Participants

Since its pilot in 2001, Wellspring has offered 65 sessions of the Care for the Professional Caregiver Program, serving almost 800 health care professionals from 15 different health care institutions or organizations, including:

  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • London Health Sciences Centre Regional Cancer Program
  • Southlake Regional Health Sciences Centre
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Toronto General Hospital
  • University Health Network
  • Women’s College Hospital
  • Canadian Paraplegic Association
  • Credit Valley Hospital
  • Ovarian Cancer Canada
  • Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
  • Royal Victoria Hospital
  • Toronto East General Hospital
  • Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • de Souza Institute.

For more information, please contact Holly Bradley, Executive Director, Centre of Innovation, at holly@wellspring.ca or 416-961-1928 ext. 245.