Working in the healthcare sector, and in particular aged care, can be an emotionally draining experience.

While caring for those less fortunate can be a rewarding experience, there are also some negative impacts it can have.

With people who are unwell all around you, lonely and isolated, and death being as frequent as every other day, it can be a challenge for the aged care staff to stay happy and upbeat.

But being happy is an important part of the role, as a happier nurse or carer will usually make for a happier older person – regardless of what issues they are living with.

Happiness is contagious and that applies to healthcare too. But in spite of such common sense, people are not that happy at work and it is not getting better.

A large-scale questionnaire reported that from 2011 to 2010, the satisfaction levels of registered nurses decreased, 43% would not recommend nursing as a profession, and one in four intend to change employers.

It does not comes as a surprise that this lack of happiness is also reflected in their patients –  in organisations where nurses are dissatisfied, patient satisfaction ratings are also low.

People who are being cared for feel more comfortable if their carers and nurses are familiar, people they see all the time regularly.

If staff are unsatisfied with their job, there is likely to be a higher turnover – leading to more staff and more unfamiliar faces for the patients and residents.

There is no one to blame here – this isn’t the fault of the patients, the aged care residents, the nurses themselves.

Rather, it is the structure of the system that dictates the job satisfaction and the happiness of the staff.

Happiness starts with an organisation that supports the employees to do the work they are inspired to do – helping others.

The staffing ratios are low, hours are long, workload is growing and wages are low, it can be understandable why an aged care worker or nurse would struggle with job satisfaction.

This inevitably leads to burnout and increased turnover and people leave their jobs.

The lack of effective staffing takes a toll on the nurse, the patient, and the organization’s effectiveness.

Happy organisations are more cost effective, have better patient outcomes, and achieve organisational success because they have a loyal and productive workforce that loves their work and the organisation.

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