Low Job Satisfaction in Caregiving: Implications and Recommendations
By Brittany Karnezis
Direct care is the fastest-growing profession in the state of New Mexico. Because of the significant growth in the aging population in the recent past, it’s also the second fastest-growing in the nation, with nearly 2,000,000 direct care workers expected by 2022. Despite the mounting need for an increase in the workforce, turnover rates for direct care workers remains high, often falling between 50% – 75%.
Turnover rates this high are of concern for many in the industry. Yet, little research has been done into the job satisfaction rates of direct care workers. Studies show that direct care maintains incredibly low rates of job satisfaction among its workers, leading, in part, to a mass exodus of skilled, experienced professionals.
Why is This?
The causes of low job satisfaction in the direct care field are myriad. Such implications on the health outcomes of those for whom direct care workers care cannot be overstated.
- Health and safety hazards. Home healthcare workers must often overcome a number of risks, such as exposures to blood-borne pathogens, musculoskeletal disorders and other home-based hazards. These include aggressive pets, chemical exposure and motor vehicle crashes.
- Employee stress. The above risks often result in high levels of stress in the workforce. Moreover, the industry norm of low wages and lack of employee benefits, like paid time off, lead to financial strain on workers. Fluctuating job schedules and unreliable hours further the insecurity direct care workers feel in both their professional and personal lives.
- Health outcomes. The health of caregivers is tied to the risks and work stresses they face. The health outcomes of care recipients are directly connected to those of their caregivers, as well. As caregivers face poorer health outcomes than many professions, the need to focus attention on this issue will continue to increase as more Americans rely on care.
What Can We Do?
Despite the grave issues facing the caregiving profession, there are positive changes that can be made. Given that caregiving affects both employees in the field and those who receive care, implementation of the following changes is of the greatest importance:
- Training: More adequately-trained caregivers experience lower risks of injury.
- Workplace Benefits: Better pay, paid time off and reliable scheduling lead to higher caregiver job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.
- Caregiver Empowerment: When caregivers feel more empowered as an employee, they are more successful in their jobs.
The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition exists to help mitigate the above issues facing caregivers.
Ellenbecker, C.H. (2001). Home health care nurses’ job satisfaction: A system indicator. Home Health Care Management & Practice, 13(6), 462-467.
Engstrom, M., & Wadensten, B. (2010). Caregivers’ job satisfaction and empowerment before and
after an intervention focused on caregiver empowerment. Journal of Nursing Management, 18, 14–23.
McCaughey et al. (2012). Implications of injury among home health workers: Evidence from the National Home Health Aide survey. The Gerontologist, 52(4), 493–505.
Hittle et al. (2016). Complexity of occupational exposures for home health-care workers: Nurses vs. home health aides. Journal of Nursing Management, 24, 1071–1079.
Stone et al. (2013). The home health workforce: A distinction between worker categories. Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 32(4), 218-233.