Blair Collins to offer tips on taking care of yourself

When caring for someone else, it is important to take care of yourself too.

When caring for someone else, it is important to take care of yourself too. That is the message Blair Collins hopes to deliver on May 6th when he visits Lacombe to deliver a presentation entitled, ‘Take a Deep Breath: Taking care of YOU!’

Collins said the presentation focuses on helping those in caring professions spot signs that they may be burning out and find ways to deal with those symptoms before they get out of control.

“In the past, it’s almost considered that part of being a professional is not getting involved or having feelings and reactions to the stories or situations you hear or see on a daily basis,” said Collins. “And what we know is that they take their toll.”

At its most basic, the presentation is about not letting yourself get burnt out as a care provider. Collins said people in these professions often put their own needs last. As a result, their own health can suffer.

“The danger is for health care professionals and helping individuals who are so focused on the work they are less mindful of what’s going on in themselves,” said Collins.

When this happens Collins said fatigue becomes a factor, caregivers can become depressed and can even become victim to physical ailments as well. He added these problems often lead to professional caregivers leaving the profession.

“Especially in the fields of social work and nursing, the turnover rate is really high because people do burn themselves out. They will often leave the profession and that’s really unfortunate because we lose a lot of very skilled, dedicated people who just don’t look after themselves.”

In addition to suffering themselves, these stresses also affect the quality of work in burnt out individuals. Therefore, workers feel they are no longer effective in their position because their charges are not being adequately cared for either.

Culture is a contributing factor to this problem as well, said Collins. He said part of his workshop also looks at the cultural factors that drive people to become workaholics and what they can do about it.

“It is not uncommon for people with entry-level jobs to have second jobs to support themselves. The other thing is various organizations are being asked to deliver more services with less money and resources which puts additional pressure on workers. I think all of these folks could benefit.”

While the presentation is designed for professional care workers, non-professionals who are in a caring position, like someone caring for a disabled family member, can also benefit from the presentation.

“Anyone who’s at all involved in a helping capacity (can benefit from this presentation),” said Collins.

“Teachers, nurses, paramedics, social workers, homecare workers, folks who are involved in caring for other people in whatever capacity.”

Collins is a registered social worker with nearly three decades of experience. He said he has worked in some pretty heavy-duty environments himself in the past and knows firsthand the dangers of burning out. Today, Collins enjoys using his experience with other people so they can use his knowledge to avoid his mistakes.

“Hopefully they can strike a better balance with their professional careers earlier rather than later.”

Collins added he has been involved with training for several years now. He has now done this presentation about half a dozen times and is looking forward to bringing it to Lacombe.

The Taking Care of YOU! Workshop will be hosted by the Lacombe Palliative Care Society and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $10 for current Alberta Hospice and Palliative Care Association members and $65 for non-members.