The holidays are usually a time filled with celebration and gatherings; a time to reset and recharge – but against the backdrop of a pandemic, 2020 feels a little different.
In fact, a recent survey found over half (54%) of Americans felt more financially stressed about the holidays this year than they did last year. Nearly a third (34%) reported negative feelings about the holidays this year, citing COVID’s impact on celebrations as a key reason.
Given that caregivers report much higher levels of stress than the average person, it’s a certainty that your PSWs, nurses and other caregivers on staff will be feeling the acute strain of 2020, with their professional lives colliding with personal burdens. COVID-19 added an additional layer of stress to the ongoing issue of understaffing in an industry historically known for high turnover – commingling factors that have created increasingly challenging work environments for caregivers today.
These critical employees also face demanding schedules as a result of unprecedented global growth for home care services. It’s no surprise then, that caregivers are experiencing higher levels of burnout today, an escalating problem we simply must do better to address, particularly as we see the rise of caregiving as a career.
Caregivers: the heart of agencies
The foundation of the home care industry is built on the passion and dedication of clinical and non-clinical caregivers. They are the people that an agency's clients connect with most, the ones they hold close, and often have long-term relationships with. Some care workers report that they feel a part of their clients’ family, thanks to years of providing intimate comfort and support.
That’s why it’s so important we celebrate the role caregivers play in our agencies and our communities. And while many things may be cancelled this year, there’s one thing that’s not: a culture of appreciation and respect.
Supporting and celebrating caregivers this season
There are many ways in which you can help your employees be happier, healthier, and less stressed during the holidays. Here are a few ideas on how to make your caregivers feel the spirit and the support this season:
Allow schedule flexibility: The holiday season can be one of the busiest times of the year. It’s important to offer some flexibility with your caregiver’s holiday schedules where you can and ask your staff to put in their requests early so you can plan ahead. Try to be as transparent as possible with your company’s holiday workload in advance and make sure your caregivers understand the value they are bringing by supporting clients over the holiday season. The next few tips can help with this!
Surprise and delight: Unexpected gifts can brighten an employee’s day and help them feel valued during the holiday season. Specialty food deliveries or gift cards are always popular gifts. Alternatively, consider sharing swag bags and a novelty item (for example, hot chocolate bombs!). Being thought of in this way goes a very long way.
Create an experience: Consider planning a virtual holiday party and organizing it around an experience. Whether it’s a virtual art or cooking class, there are many fun experience-based options now available that can be an easy way to get your frontline staff together to spread some holiday cheer.
Create an impact or incentive to help them stay motivated: With both the physical and mental health impact of this pandemic. If possible, consider implementing a holiday bonus as a surefire way to say thank-you while helping alleviate some financial stress – an issue we’ve explored previously.
Something for everyone: Consider offering something special for your caregivers’ whole family as well. A virtual story-time event with Santa is sure to bring some magic into the holidays. Or perhaps host a simple, holiday craft workshop that families can do together using everyday household items.
Make it personal: Sometimes a handwritten message is all you need. No matter what your agency celebrations look like, be sure to recognize your caregivers’ efforts with a personalized message of thanks. This extra effort will go a long way in sharing your gratitude during these challenging times.
We hope that these ideas help you spread some cheer amidst the subdued holiday season. Caring for our caregivers requires a year-round effort, so consider practicing these strategies as you move into the new year.
To the tireless caregivers whose jobs continue throughout the holidays: our unwavering thanks and gratitude for all that you do. You truly are the heart of this industry.
Happy Holidays, everyone.