Survival tips for aged care - don't blow your top

26 Mar 2018 8:58 AMJen Fitzgerald
Survival tips for aged care - don't blow your top

Feeling "volcanic" lately? Job getting to you? Have you had a run of challenging shifts? Here are 5 tips to let off some steam so you won't explode.

Aged Care nurses get sworn at, pinched and grabbed at least once a shift and that’s a good day! It is part of the job but how do you survive those challenging days when it seems every resident/client/buddy is a little cray cray.


  1. Stay calm- Easier said than done that’s for sure. Don’t react or even swear under your breath. Stay professional and cool as a cucumber. Take 3 deep breaths.


  1. Don’t argue –Remember the person may need a simple assessment on any of the 6 P’s. They may be in pain, need to pee or poo. Is there a need or is it time for pills? Is there any pus i.e. any kind of discharge, skin sores and lastly, especially important for dementia residents, your presence – see next point.


  1. Your presence - watch your body language and tone of voice

It may be the end of your 4th or 5th straight shift and you are tired so very very tired. But your presence still needs to be calm and not rushed. Approaching any upset resident with an open body language and manner is vital to surviving the situation. Your tone of voice must stay calm too. Just listening and agreeing with the resident, no matter what the cause, are the main skills needed to survive here.


  1. Knowledge is gold

Knowing the residents mental, emotional and medical status is essential. Having all the correct information will increase your confidence and allow you to step back and assess with more care and less emotion. Too often residents are labelled as “difficult” or “challenging” by nurses who have not even read a care plan nor taken the time to look for the trigger behind a behaviour not just react to the person.


  1. Debrief and breathe after your shift

After a shift with many “interesting’ challenges, drive the long way home. Breathe deep all the way. Get take away, chill out in whatever way works for you, play with the kids. Just don’t do too much because you may be back the next day.

Take the edge off every shift so the stress doesn’t build up like lava in a volcano. If your stress level stays too high for too long, then you will either explode or implode. Either is not good. Self-care in nursing is a skill just like manual handling or infection control.

Practice these tips as often as possible and you will survive those “interesting” shifts.

© DPT 2018