Caregivers who work the night shift face a unique set of challenges. Not only do they have to contend with the usual difficulties of providing care, but they also have to deal with the side effects of working at night which can make it difficult to focus. For the safety of the residents, it is essential that caregivers stay alert and mindful during a long shift. Here we share some useful insights for caregivers on being mindful during a long shift:
1. What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an approach that caregivers can cultivate by paying attention to their thoughts and feelings and thus being more present in the moment. It’s common for the mind to wander off into past experiences or future worries. When caregivers are aware that their minds have wandered, they can use mindfulness techniques to bring attention back to the present moment.
2. How can mindfulness benefit caregivers?
Here are some ways how mindfulness can be beneficial for caregivers:
- Mindfulness exercises and techniques can help caregivers develop skills to manage stress
- Mindfulness can help caregivers increase their overall attention and focus
- Mindfulness can help caregivers experience work satisfaction and reduced job burnout
3. How can caregivers inculcate mindfulness?
Here are some ways that caregivers can practice mindfulness:
- Take on one task at a time: It is not uncommon for caregivers to find themselves having to juggle multiple tasks at once. While it may seem like an efficient way to get things done, multitasking has been proven to decrease productivity. Furthermore, multitasking can lead to distractions, which can make it even more difficult to get things done.
- Use scheduled breaks: Working long hours is easy and night shifts can be tough on the body and mind. To stay alert and in good form, caregivers must make sure to get enough sleep before they get to work. Caregivers must use their scheduled breaks to relax. Going for a walk and getting some fresh air, listening to music and catching up with a friend over the phone are some ways caregivers can focus on things other than work at that moment.
- Focus on breathing: It’s easy for caregivers to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to slow down. However, taking a moment to breathe deeply can help them shift their perception. There are many mobile apps that short guided mindful sessions. Caregivers can spend 2 to 3 minutes of their breaks on mindful breathing.
- Make plans after work: It is important that caregivers end their shifts with something to look forward to. This is why planning things outside of work is important. They can pick up a hobby or schedule dinners with friends after work so that they can take some mental time off.
- Say no interruptions during medication rounds: Interruptions can be a major source of errors during medication administration. Caregivers can ask their supervisors to not assign any other responsibilities when they are on medication rounds. They can even request ‘do not disturb’ vests so that they are not interrupted by other colleagues. The area where medications are prepared should be quiet and free of distractions.
In care homes, a lot of time is spent on medication administration and documentation. That is why it is important to streamline the processes to reduce medication errors. Many care homes in the UK are switching to Electronic MAR chart medication. It reduces paperwork, ensures better compliance with documentation requirements and better coordination between caregiving staff members. Caregivers can set alerts to ensure that no dose is missed. Electronic MAR chart medication can be used for making weekly, monthly and quarterly reports for audits.