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Preventing Carer Burnout - Inter-Mission Care and Rehabilitation Society (IMCARES)

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Burnout is not a single event but a process in which everyday stresses and anxieties that are not addressed gradually undermine the carer’s mental and physical health, so that eventually caregiving and personal relationships suffer. Burnout is the fi nal stage in the stress process when everything falls apart. As a medical condition, burnout has no clear defi nition, but as a psychological condition it has been well defi ned1 and is increasingly recognized by people in the caring professions. Burnout has long been identifi ed as a crucial issue in HIV care and support; yet there is relatively little known about what measures can be taken to prevent or mitigate it.

This document looks at strategies to lessen the risk of carer burnout. It briefl y reviews the approach developed and used by one faith-based organization to care for its staff and volunteers who work as carers in the community and also with the families of those living with HIV. The organization is guided by its beliefs but many of their approaches and lessons learnt can be used by secular nongovernmental organizations.


The Inter-Mission Care and Rehabilitation Society is a registered charitable society based in Mumbai, Maharashtra State, India. In 2007, IMCARES had over 40 fulltime paid staff members, 10 full-time community training course trainees (who are paid a stipend) and a variable number of Indian and foreign volunteers (between five and eight). Together they reach between 6000 and 7000 people per year through IMCARES’ medical clinics, which provide primary health care as well as referrals to hospitals for antiretroviral therapy and other medical treatment, and to directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) programmes for tuberculosis. They also provide care to some 65 people living with HIV.

IMCARES describes itself as an interdenominational, evangelical Christian social organization targeting the poorest and most needy groups in the city. IMCARES has pioneered holistic ministry on the pavements and in the slums over the past 25 years.  Members of staff of IMCARES come from some 17 different Christian denominations in Mumbai.