Cost of Caring

 
"We cannot walk through water without getting wet
  We cannot do this work without being affected by it"
                                                              - Remen (2006)
 
 
Cost of Caring Introduction:
 
Many will argue that humanitarian work is one of the most rewarding types of work you can do. Enriching, meaningful and sometimes all consuming, it also has us constantly faced with challenges, lack of resources and extremely demanding working conditions. Pain and suffering is all around us. But we do what we can -whatever we can, to help. The cost of being a helper can be overwhelming and sometimes devastating. People, stories, images – your own and other people's pain - it all fills our hearts and minds, and over time there is a cost. A cost of caring. The emotional and psychological consequences of working in close proximity to trauma, pain and suffering have been described in various ways: compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, burnout and PTSD. At this point in time, there is a large body of research available to show how it affects not only trauma therapists, but all humanitarian aid workers in the field and in the office. We believe that with this knowledge, comes a responsibility. The Cost of Caring event was our way of responding to this responsibility, and creating a safe space for sharing of experiences and exploring individual perspectives.
 
Cost of Caring Events: 

MSF Norway initiated several associative events under the topic "The cost of Caring". 

- Cost of Caring I - September 2018 - in person only event held in Oslo, Norway
 
- Cost of Caring I - November 2018 - in-person only event held at the TEFKAP in Denmark.
 
 -Cost of Caring II - November 2019 - in-person and remote event held in Oslo, Norway and online.
You can watch the recording of this 2nd eition here:
 

Here is a summary of the outcomes highlighted from the Cost of Caring II held in November 2019:
- Agreement by participants on the need for increased awareness of the Cost of Caring.
- Lack of awareness of many MSFers on the warning signs of burn out, and when noticed, tendency to ignore those alerts.
- Wish for an overview and focus on how the Cost of Caring can be present in various setting in MSF: the field, and MSF offices, HQ and OCs.
- Concerns that the MSF culture exacerbates the risk of compassion fatigue and burn out
- Proposals on how MSFers can change this culture and provide better care for carers in our organisation. 

We conducted a survey on our Cost of Caring event held in November 2019. You can check its outcomes here. 
 
Cost of Caring Reference Materials: 
 
 
 
 
Here you will find Joanne Liu's Rapport Moral about the MSF we have become, the MSF we don't want to be, and the MSF we do want to be moving forward (Login: msf, Password: asso).
 
 
Headspace is an app that could help finding some peace of mind when confronted with difficult thoughts:
Here you can read the Headspace leaflet
App
 
 
Emily Gilbert, an MSF project coordinator from London, discusses a common problem many humanitarian workers deal with: balancing working in far-flung places and maintaining relationships back home. Below you can listen to the podcast
 
 
 
Articles
Figley Course Compassion Fatigue by the Figley Institute
Reentry Trauma by Gwen and Rachel Vogel
Secondary Trauma Humanitarian Aid Workers Shaw Andrew Katz
Making secondary trauma a primary issue by Sam Dubberley Elizabeth Griffin Haluk Mert Bal
TEND Compassion Fatigue by Tend Academy
Compassion Fatigue Burnout by Francoise Mathieu
"Keeping walking" by Emma Pedley
"A healing hug" by Emma Pedley
"Tales of a burnt-out boy" by Robert Malies
"Heart and soul" by Minja Westerlund
By: MSF Norway Association