4. System Drivers of Compassion Fatigue

Introduction

As we have discovered in the previous sections of this toolkit, the goal of compassion resilience can be reached with the application of personal skills and perspectives combined with organizational policies and practices. In this section we will focus on the systemic factors that can negatively impact our compassion resilience and explore our response and potential role in making positive change.

We all work in imperfect systems. When we look outside of our own system to those that we rely on to provide for the health and well-being of our students and their families, we find more imperfection. The first step in lessening the negative impact of the systems in which we live and work is naming what it is about the systems that contributes to our compassion fatigue. The second step is to discover which items on that list we can change, which ones leadership can and will address, and which ones we would best be served by letting go.



Applications

Key Activity

What Can I Control? Activity Write-Up

Toolkit Facilitators and Leadership Team, Please Review Prior to Implementing What Can I Control? Activity
The following is a review of system factors that lead to compassion fatigue and those that are protective. Keep these factors in mind as you facilitate the combined staff and leadership activity, What Can I Control?, and if you are on the leadership team, use this information to prepare and respond to the activity.

What Can I Control (Demo Video)
Watch Sue McKenzie Dicks walk through the What Can I Control? activity with a group of staff. This video only includes Sue leading the Drivers of Fatigue portion of the activity. If you lead this activity, we encourage you to also include the Drivers of Resilience portion of the activity outlined in the circle agenda and activity directions below.

Wellness Practice

SPIRIT: Humor and Core Values
Reflect on what are you doing when you feel most alive – most like yourself?

The majority of people when asked this question do not immediately go to a situation at work, but rather a place outside of work where they feel most alive. If that’s the case for you, when is a time at work when you feel most alive?

When you go home from your workday, do you have a tendency to share what happened in your day that left you feeling most alive or what was most draining? Our bodies experience the stress we relive in our conversation to some degree as if we were experiencing it again. Sharing the hard parts of our day may be needed to be understood and validated. We can become aware of when it moves from helpful to hurtful. We have a choice about how much time and on what we focus when talking about our work. One practice to play with is to include what made you feel most alive in your day as you talk with friends and family

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Four

Core Content Visual 

System Drivers – Use this Visual and Display in Staff Break Areas
Posting this visual in common staff areas will serve as a reminder of content covered to staff and perhaps serve as a future conversation started for deeper reflection among staff members.