#47: Dealing With Change – Coping Strategies for Aged Care Workers
Dealing With Change – Coping Strategies for Aged Care Workers
In this, the first episode of our 6-part special edition series of the Voice of Aged Care podcast, we discuss change and share coping strategies for aged care workers to best deal with change in the workplace.
Over the past few years we have all felt the impacts of change, from global events like COVID and world conflicts, to the far-reaching impacts of the cost of living. Change and uncertainty is affecting many people, and is an inevitable part of our daily lives – nothing stays the same.
In aged care specifically, the changes have been widespread, including new regulations, new policies, new funding models, as well the localised changes that often occur, such as dealing with a new manager, new colleagues, new role, new site, supporting new clients and the grief and loss of clients no longer with us. Change can be positive too, such as a promotion or new facilities.
The initial shock of change can be sudden and quite unexpected. Regardless of whether negative or positive, it is necessary to transition, and this psychological response can either help or hinder the process. We all respond differently to change, and this can be impacted by what is going on in our lives at the time.
When we consider how change impacts our brain, there are two very important concepts we look at. The smart brain, our prefrontal cortex, is where our high-level thinking capabilities come from. This part of the brain can really help us to overcome the challenges we might see with change. The other part is the impulsive brain, which is where the fight or flight activation comes from. In times of perceived stress we want our smart brain to be able to reason and respond to what is going on, however, this does require tools and strategies to make happen, because our body’s internal stress response triggers our impulsive brain.
When we learn of change, we often jump to the conclusion that it will be negative, but it can be positive too, depending on what the change is and what is going on for us at the time. How others react can also impact how we feel and how we process the news. If others perceive it as negative and we don’t, there can be a discrepancy in how we feel and how we act if we are afraid to speak up, and this can add to our stress.
We are all equipped with different strengths and have different strategies we can use to overcome and address changes in our lives. To access these, we need to be able to activate our smart brains during times of change, or otherwise we can feel stuck and out of control. It’s also important to understand what is and isn’t within our control. We have direct control over how we respond to and perceive change, how we connect with our colleagues and how well we look after ourselves. We have partial control over some things, such as escalating your concerns to management. There are other things we have no control over, such as new regulations or policies. So to better deal with change, we need to focus more on the things we do have control over.
Change is always just around the corner – and when you can lean on your strategies and learn to accept change, to take a step back and look at what is within your control, and what you can and can’t influence, it can help tremendously.
In this episode you will learn:
- The impact that change has on our brain and how we think
- Common reactions to change that we might have
- Strategies for getting unstuck when you are stuck
- The importance of recognising what is and isn’t within your control
- Self-management during times of uncertainty
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