Exploring Wellness of Wildlife Carers in New Zealand: A Descriptive Study
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The rescue and care of vulnerable wildlife is rewarding. Most people involved in animal rescue have a strong commitment to service but the work can be profoundly challenging. The ability to know and respond appropriately to an animal's needs depends on the professional skills and knowledge of wildlife carers. In the face of unrelenting suffering and countless numbers of animals in need, there are multiple stressors, vulnerabilities, and barriers that can undermine carers’ wellbeing and put them at risk of compassion fatigue. The balance between compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue is considered professional quality of life. The aim of this study was to provide a preliminary understanding of the potential for compassion satisfaction and the risk of compassion fatigue among wildlife carers within New Zealand. Thirty wildlife carers voluntarily completed a self-report survey, which included questions on socio-demographics, self-perceived quality of life (EUROHIS-QOL), professional quality of life (ProQOL), job satisfaction, motivation for ongoing work in wildlife rehabilitation, and coping mechanisms. We found that there were significant differences in compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue on the basis of age, gender, financial capability, and years of experience. Overall, this sample showed high levels of compassion satisfaction and low levels of compassion fatigue. Understanding the elements of professional quality of life can have a positive effect on work environment. These results may provide clues to help identify wildlife carers’ strengths for compassion satisfaction and vulnerabilities to compassion fatigue, and to help develop strategies to improve their professional quality of life.
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