“How do you do enough for the person who needs your help, and leave enough for yourself too?”

Burnout has long been a historical problem, plaguing healthcare workers from medical institutions across the world. This has led to mediocre patient care and poor work environments. A research study conducted in 2015 revealed that Singaporean healthcare professionals (e.g. social workers, psychologists, counsellors) are experiencing higher levels of stress, compared to healthy adults in countries including the United States, Sweden and Netherlands.

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The study noted that a relatively high prevalence of burnout among palliative care practitioners (PCPs) in Singapore compared to other countries (Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash)

Another research study among 1830 nurses in a local hospital found strong associations between different personality traits and burnout, highlighting that nurses of differing personalities are nevertheless vulnerable to this problem. The study also pointed out that younger nurses, as well as those working multiple shifts, were more prone to the detrimental effects of burnout.

And, it is not just healthcare professionals facing this problem. Informal caregivers (family, friends of the patient) are equally prone to suffering the adverse impacts of burnout, especially when a loved one is concerned. Ms Marie Johnson, an informal caregiver in her 50s who has been looking after her dementia-stricken mother said: “It’s so hard for me to think (of leaving) my mom while I enjoy life. But I also want to enjoy something I’ve always longed for, like travel”.

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“Many times, (caregivers) assume that they, and they alone, are responsible for taking care of this person with dementia, and we’re not just dealing with a cognitive issue, we’re dealing with physical issues, physical frailty, and personal care. It’s a 24-hour day job and it can be exhausting”. – Dr Cameron Camp, Director (research & development), Centre for Applied Research in Dementia in the US

Yet, there are ways to deal with the threat of burnout to both healthcare professionals and informal caregivers alike. The research points to a common solution: investing in prevention and coping programmes. These programmes include the areas of positive psychology and training in coping strategies, improving their skills in dealing with stress and reducing negative emotional responses.

Our understanding focused on caregivers facing physically and emotionally care demands, leading to enormous stress, burnout and despair. What better time, than now, to address this pervasive problem?


Since 2014, ACE Seniors has been organising workshops and seminars about critical issues surrounding the healthcare industry. These include palliative care, advance care planning (ACP), dementia, and dealing with grief and bereavement. If you’ll like to find out more about these programmes, do drop us an email or call 6509 8680.