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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

An Organizational Consultation and Proposed Intervention for Preventing Burnout in a Staff of a Community Residence

In light of the negative impact that burnout can have on individuals and organizations, a consultation was undertaken to prevent the burnout of the staff at a community residence for geriatric and pre-geriatric psychiatric clients. An ecological orientation guided the consultant, and the work environment was the focus for the project. The consultation process included negotiations with the agencys administrators, which yielded an agreement to use a Training Needs Assessment (TNA) to determine the form and content of an intervention. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in the TNA, including interviews with key individuals in the organization, a review of agency documents, surveys completed by the residence staff, and meetings with the staff. The questionnaire instruments used were the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the Work Environment Scale (WES), and a custom-developed Staff Questionnaire. The results of the TNA revealed that the staff as a whole was experiencing moderate emotional exhaustion, a characteristic of the initial stages of burnout. The staff reported that their work environment was not meeting their image of what an ideal work setting should be. The theme that emerged from the TNA was that the there were barriers to effective communication in the staff group. The findings of the TNA were analyzed and submitted to the agencys management, and a workshop was proposed as an initial intervention. The proposed workshop included the learning of basic communication skills, and a group approach to problem-solving, to be used in the future to identify and solve problems in their program. A follow-up and evaluation were offered, as well as meetings and subjective observations to supplement the quantitative data of the questionnaires.