Stress in home care staff working with older adults : an exploratory study of external stressors, moderating factors, and stress outcomes
Home carers working chiefly with older adults were invited to participate in the study. Fifty nine consented and completed the questionnaires. Data was collected on external stressors, mediating factors, and strain indices experienced by home carers in their workplace. Well established measures were used, the General Health Questionnaire, the Occupational Stress Inventory, the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (short-form), the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Minnesota Job Satisfaction Scale, as well as a demographic questionnaire designed for the study. The results indicated that the majority of home carers experienced various aspects of their jobs as stressful, namely role demands but do not necessarily report strain. A range of coping strategies used by this group were assessed. As expected wishful thinking as a coping strategy was positively correlated with the emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation dimensions of burnout, reduced job satisfaction and general emotional mental health. Social support and problem-solving were also used as strategies, the success of social support was highlighted by the negative correlations found with the emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation dimensions of burnout, and positive correlations found with job satisfaction. The differences between the home carers sample and the norm groups on the job satisfaction scale, the burnout scale, and GHQ-12 indicated significant lower levels of burnout, equal levels of job satisfaction, and a significantly lower proportion of clinical caseness. The stressful aspects of the home carer work were discussed. Although care work was viewed as rewarding by many nevertheless some indicators of stress were present. It was conjectured that the deleterious effects of reported stress was being effectively mediated through use of the various constructive strategies, namely social support from family and colleagues. Limitations of the study are discussed both in terms of method used, the nature of the sample and the issues around the measure of stress and relevant moderators.