Everyone is affected by loss and grief at some time in their life. This applies in the workplace as much as anywhere else. People do not leave their grief at home when they go to work and, of course, loss issues can arise within the workplace as well as outside it. While grief can be an extremely painful experience, it is not necessarily harmful. However, if the needs of the grieving person are not taken into consideration at work, their pain can be intensified and their suffering increased unnecessarily. Also, if the significance of grief is not recognized, the result can be accidents, problems with quality leading to complaints and conflicts and so on. It is therefore important that loss and grief issues are not ‘brushed under the carpet’ in busy workplaces.
Being a victim of crime or violence, being involved in a disaster of some kind, witnessing a horrific incident (someone being killed for example) and being abused are all examples of situations that can lead to a traumatic reaction. Such situations can be devastating for the individual(s) concerned and for the people connected with them. Like loss and grief, trauma can both arise within the workplace and can be brought in by employees who, of course, cannot simply turn off their feelings when they arrive at their place of work each day. A traumatised person can encounter danger at work in two senses: (i) a work setting not attuned to their needs may make the situation worse for that person; and (ii) he or she may pose a threat to others because of their unsettled state of mind and emotional turmoil. It can therefore be a very risky strategy all round to neglect the significance of trauma in the workplace.
So what do we mean by eldercare? There is no consensus on what it is to be ‘old’, as it varies from society to society and culture to culture. When it comes to caring for older people, then, it helps to think in terms of vulnerability in old age, rather than age itself, as it is obviously not the case that all older people need help. Defining the term ‘care’ is also far from easy – do we take care to mean protecting someone from risk, or as helping them to live with risk? Who provides care? Is there a consensus on who should provide care? These questions are the subject of debate in a number of fields, but what must not be forgotten is that, when we are talking about elders, we are talking about people and, when we are talking about eldercare, we are talking about the need to help those people live the lives they want to live, rather than what ageist assumptions present as the lives they should be living.
Reliance on alcohol, the use of illegal drugs and the misuse of prescription medication can all be highly problematic in the workplace. Simply dismissing people who exhibit such problems can mean the loss of valued employees who are going through a bad patch in their lives – a move that can prove quite costly in the long run – with the additional cost that others may perceive the organisation as uncaring and unsupportive of its staff. Such a perception may then lead to problems of recruitment and retention. But, if the problems of alcohol and drugs misuse in the workplace are not tackled, the cost to the organisation and its employees can be even greater. A good understanding of the issues involved is therefore an important thing to develop.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future (psychologytoday.com).