Jennifer Reidy has a wide range of work and educational experience in the caring professional world. Jennifer holds a BA in Applied Social Studies in Social Care from Limerick Institute of Technology. The final year of this honours degree was spent researching the topic of ‘Compassion Fatigue/Vicarious Trauma and Burnout’ where she wrote her thesis on this topic. At the time, this topic was never before researched at this level in Ireland and it then became a sought-after piece of research which attained a 1.1 grade.
Her research shows that compassion fatigue and burnout can be detrimental if not observed on time. Jennifer now sees this in hindsight, but as they say, hindsight is 20:20 vision. Therefore, Jennifer is now essentially seeing these concepts, through clearer lenses. Social care and the caring profession was always the path she wanted to take, for many reasons, so when she commenced her studies, she gave it her all.
Little did she realise the cost of caring in this line of work, if professionals lack self-care skills. Following research on these topics over time, Jennifer founded ‘Compassion Fatigue Ireland’ to break the barriers around Ireland in relation to self-care and shine a light on how important and necessary self-care is for frontline professionals. The ethos of her work is “blossom healthily and free your mind”. Jennifer created this quote through her observations on how our minds can be so much freer when we are blossoming healthily, just like watering flowers regularly! And if we are kind to ourselves and others around us, aware of our boundaries, in turn, our minds can be much freer.
Jennifer absolutely loves delivering this work and educating students, social care workers, social workers, family carers, nurses, doctors, teachers, and management teams across the country. This is how it started out. And now it is spreading to people and workers in all walks of life, which is very exciting and just shows that no matter what your position in life, we all need to be compassionate to ourselves before we can be compassionate to others. As the saying goes “an empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly”. Ultimately, we need to ‘care for the carers’ and Jennifer is on a mission to build more resilient front-line staff and students and to ensure people start providing more compassion towards themselves, before others.
Caring for others can be a very rewarding place to be, whether that is on the front line in a caring sector, as a family carer, or generally being a caring person in peoples lives. However, this will only gain positive results if you are capable of filling up your own tank regularly, instead of running on empty, capable of being a compassionate person but essentially know how to step back at the same time.
These healthy, positive habits will create healthier, overall more compassionate environments. At the end of the day, if we lost everything in our lives, “we only have one place left to live, and that’s in our own bodies and minds, so make sure that’s somewhere you would be happy to end up”.
First published on https://www.ilovelimerick.ie/compassion-fatigue/