“Who’s Caring for Us?”: Understanding and Addressing the Effects of Emotional Labor on Home Health Aides’ Well-being

Source: Emily Franzosa, Emma K Tsui, Sherry Baron, The Gerontologist, Published: August 17, 2018
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From the abstract:
Background and Objectives:
Interventions to strengthen the home care workforce focus on workers’ economic and physical well-being, without acknowledging the caring labor affecting emotional well-being. Our study examined workers’ perceptions of the emotional effects of caring work, coping mechanisms, and desired support.

Research Design and Methods:
We conducted 4 worker focus groups (n = 27). Moderators cross-checked codes and themes, and aides provided input through report-backs.

Results:
Building close, trusting relationships with clients was central to aides’ emotional well-being. Well-being was also influenced by relationships with client families and agency supervisors, work–life balance, and the level to which aides felt their work was valued. Aides were largely alone in managing job stressors and desired more communication, connection, and support from supervisors and peers.

Discussion and Implications:
Recognizing and supporting the emotional demands of caring work is crucial to strengthening the workforce. Policy makers and agencies must realign reimbursement systems, job descriptions, and care plans to include measures of emotional labor, improve communication between workers and supervisors, and provide training, mental health benefits, and peer support.