Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
The Maslach Burnout Inventory was developed by social psychologists Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson in 1996. The inventory measures three hypothetical aspects of burnout syndrome referred to as emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation (sometimes referred to as cynicism) and personal accomplishment. According to Maslach, burnout is defined as: “A syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who do “people work’’ of some kind. . . . Burnout can lead to deterioration in the quality of care or service provided. “ (Maslach and Jackson, 1986:1)
Burnout A long time ago I had work experience in a recovery ward mostly just being around people with injuries and disabilities that meant they spent month after month in hospital. I concluded it was’ent for me - it was very demanding emotionally. It was a long time ago but one of patients I remember was about 12 years old who had the maturity of someone twice her age and really needed friends her own age she could be ‘ordinary’ with even though she was’ent ordinary in any sense. I found it very hard to see this and have so little to offer. I had a sense that this would draw on resources I did’ent have much of. I’ve met many great caring professionals in lots of contexts (ex-probation officers, social workers, health procurement professionals, mental health specialists, therapists and social workersetc) and I have great respect for them and the work they do. I also have great respect for many of the people they work with often in very challenging circumstances. I suspect they do too.
I’ve also recently been reading some serious case reviews and one the things that seems to crop up a lot is failure in ‘professional curiosity’ among professionals in the caring professions. What that means, I think, is that people get so task oriented, often because their workloads are so high, that they fail to spot signs that the person might have other difficulties or other resources and explore these with the person or the people around them. This I think is one sign of professional burnout.
Yvonne Newbold talks about burnout from the carer’s perspective. I think for her and for many carers this is the point you reach when you know your life is killing you and you have no idea how you will get through the next five minutes. Her advice from the perspective of someone who has lived like this, is here - Caring Responsibilities and Stresshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB3ghH9x5Uw
It is hard though to imagine a parent being so burntout they no longer love their child, even if they cannot cope whereas burntout professionals may ‘shut down’ emotionally and no longer care. I’d guess that we all have different stresses, (long term or short term), different capacities ( ability to understand, ability to help) different resiliencies (adaptive behaviours?) and different motivations (care for the one, care for the many?) too.
On my journey as a parent, I’ve encountered many professionals that I believe are dangerously close to being burntout. A 2017 studyconfirms this for social workers. It is a very challenging environment for people who care about people at the moment and things seem to be getting worse not better in many ways. I don’t feel as helpless as I did in my teens though.
This is what I try and do:- * understand the ‘why’ of things, * recognise the 'common humanity’ in us all, * say ‘thank you’ when it is due and * make it easier for all professionals to do their job properly so they don’t become too burntout to help the next person who needs it.
This is not about being passive. It is about real engagement and if people are in their profession for the right reasons they will respond well to this by engaging with you even if they are at the point of becoming burntout themselves.