Caring For the Caregiver: Assessment of Animal Care Professional And Organizational Wellbeing
This study examines the experience of animal caregivers to determine the emotional consequences and other outcomes from their work and how this compares to people working in human-centered caregiving fields. The study finds that “burnout” is due to a variety of causes but high workload is a key factor. However, unlike with human caregivers, animal caregivers generally believe in the mission of the organizations they work for and this helps buffer the negative effects of their work. The study concludes that one-fifth of animal caregivers show signs of vulnerability to stress and can benefit from support services.
Excerpt from Report Summary:
“Attributes identified by participants as key for effective animal caregiving concur with those in similar human health and caring giving professions. Survey participants concur that caregiver wellbeing and efficacy would profit from educational and training in diverse areas that relate to animal care and personal wellbeing. Overall, compared with other professions, participants showed greater positive attitudes toward their work environment and greater resilience to trauma and stress. Relative to other professions animal caregivers indicate: higher workload, relatively same sense of control over work, greater reward in work, relatively same sense of community, treated with much greater fairness, and values are respected and congruent.”
“In short, sanctuary personnel believe in their organizations and missions. Like many home care providers, nurses, and hospice professionals, sanctuary caregivers have adopted a patient-centered philosophy of practice. However, in contrast to nurses (who may or may not be aligned with their organization’s philosophy and operations), sanctuary caregivers in this study show that they are committed to sanctuary and its mission. The negative effects of workload as seen in the ProQOL scores (especially burnout) are mitigated by the positives of the workplace environment of animal care caregivers. This includes social reward, a sense of fairness, and congruence in values with organizational missions.”
“Notably, more than twenty percent (one-fifth) of surveyed individuals indicated an acute vulnerability to stress, and by the standards of the health care community, are in need of support. This does not preclude a need for support for other staff, but suggests a particular vulnerability at this time. Further, the surveyed individuals are not necessarily typical of all sanctuaries and shelters because they work at long-standing, stable organizations. As such, they are more “buffered” than those in newer or less well-established organizations. There were pronounced differences in social identity (e.g., trans-species identity).”
The PDF of the full report can be downloaded here.