Emotional experiences, empathy and burnout among staff caring for demented patients at a collective living unit and a nursing home

Authors

  • Dan Kuremyr RN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Geriatric Medicine, Örebro Medical Centre Hospital, Department of Advanced Nursing, Umeå University, and Centre for Caring Sciences, Örebro Medical Centre Hospital
      Dan Kuremyr, Centre for Caring Sciences, Box 1324, 5-701 13, Örebro, Sweden.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Mona Kihlgren RN PhD,

    1. Centre for Caring Sciences, Örebro Medical Centre Hospital, and Department of Advanced Nursing, Umeå University
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Astrid Norberg RN PhD,

    1. Department of Advanced Nursing, Umeå University
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sture Åström RNT DMSc,

    1. Departments of Geriatric Medicine and Advanced Nursing, Umeå University, and Department of Geriatric Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge Hospital, Huddinge
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ingvar Karlsson MD PhD

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Gothenburg University, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author

Dan Kuremyr, Centre for Caring Sciences, Box 1324, 5-701 13, Örebro, Sweden.

Abstract

Experiences of empathy and burnout were compared among staff caring for demented patients, at a collective living unit (n = 10) and a nursing home (n=10) in the middle of Sweden. In both milieus, the staff showed great confidence in their own caring ability and disclosed a deep care and concern for their patients. All staff had the requisite attributes of empathy, and none had burnout scores indicating risk of burnout. The staff of the collective living unit gave exclusively positive descriptions of their patients, but expressed an emotional exhaustion and a feeling of being overutilized. The staff of the nursing home gave positive and negative descriptions of their patients, and experienced physical exhaustion and a feeling of being only partly utilized. The study indicates that exhaustion in staff may be related both to overwhelming experiences connected with being close to demented patients, and to feelings of guilt for not being closely related to their patients.

Ancillary