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SNAPSHOT: Caregivers’ Well-Being

Home health care aides report feeling unsupported by their agency supervisors, making it more difficult to cope with some of the unique stressors of the job, according to a new study by Emily Franzosa, a graduate of the doctoral program at the Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy and Professor Emma Tsui. The study was published in the journal The Gerontologist.

Home health care work is not just physically taxing, but emotionally demanding. Aides have to perform what’s known as emotional labor, and often form genuine emotional bonds with clients.

A young woman holds the hand of an older woman

“Emotional labor is often considered a stressor, and home care workers report a high level of on-the-job stress caring for ill, dying, aggressive, or disoriented clients, and prioritizing patients’ emotional needs and happiness above their own,” the authors write.

Yet the stressful aspects of caregiving, such as the death of a client, often go unrecognized. The aides said that supervisors were not available via phone when they had issues with clients, that their own emotions were not considered after a client passed away, and that they felt they were not appreciated when they went above and beyond their duties to care for a client.

Participants in the survey said that a dedicated hotline with someone who will listen would help aides cope with the emotional demands that come with their roles. They also said they wanted more connection with their supervisors and the care team, as well as structural supports like paid time off, more control over their schedules, and access to counseling and mental health benefits. Read more.