Summary of the Residential Care Home Employee Group Survey Results

Job Demands

The residential care home workers, similar to the previously discussed occupational group, are characterized by a slow work pace and high emotional demands. The slow work pace is certainly a significant psychosocial working conditions asset, as it means that there is no need to carry out professional tasks under strong time pressure and in a constant hurry during the working shift. However, high emotional demands, coupled with the need to act and function professionally in emotionally difficult situations, which require attention and emotional engagement in the personal problems of patients, should be considered as a vulnerability.

Work Organization and Content

The residential care home employees rate personal development opportunities as low. It thus seems that there are significantly fewer opportunities for this occupational group to act on their own initiative, use their skills and expertise at work, learn new competences, and develop human capital compared to the other two groups surveyed. This result should be counted among the poor psychosocial working conditions of residential care home workers and as a potential source of stress.

Health and Well-Being

Among the residential care home employees, there was a significantly higher percentage of employees complaining of musculoskeletal disorders (back pain) compared to the other two occupational groups (medical personnel of psychiatric wards and youth rehabilitation professionals). Moreover, the highest percentage in the residential care home employee group, out of all the three occupational groups surveyed, admitted to physical inactivity during leisure time. Musculoskeletal disorders and reduced physical activity after work can significantly reduce the ability of the residential care home employees to cope with occupational stress.

In comparison to the Danish studies, the following factors can be considered negative working conditions of residential care home employees:

  • • high emotional demands,
  • • lower personal development opportunities,
  • • higher percentage of persons complaining of musculoskeletal disorders (back pain),
  • • higher percentage of persons physically inactive.

Work-Related Stress Management Support Program for the Personnel of Residential Care Establishments

Workplace-based research has shown that excessive job demands, poor job control, low social support, and other psychosocial factors create a risk of stress reactions which, if frequent or prolonged, lead to a deterioration in the physical and mental well-being of the worker, alongside many other health conditions [Luczak and Zolnierczyk-Zreda 2002]. In turn, the ability to cope with stress prevents or minimizes these negative impacts at the individual level.

A study carried out by Cameron and Browmie [2010] has attempted to identify the factors that affect mental resilience in nurses caring for the elderly, namely their adaptive, physical, mental, and emotional abilities, which are required for this type of w'ork. Nine nurses working in retirement homes on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland were examined. They were asked to reflect on the phenomenon of resilience in the workplace. The study showed that clinical experience, a sense of purpose in a comprehensive (holistic) care environment, positive attitudes, and a work-life balance were important determinants of resilience observed in nurses caring for the elderly. Maintaining long-lasting, meaningful relationships with patients, receiving co-worker support, and adopting a humorous approach to stress relief were conducive to well-being and mental resilience in the workplace.

A qualitative study by Ablett and Jones [2007] examined the factors that supported mental resilience and well-being among palliative care workers. To describe the experiences of hospice nurses, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used. It included motives concerning interpersonal factors that influenced nurses’ decisions to start and continue working in palliative care, and their attitude toward life and work. The emerging motives were compared with theoretical constructs of personalities and a sense of coherence. The comparison revealed many similarities. The nurses manifested a high level of engagement and attributed a sense of purpose to their work. The study group differed in terms of their reaction to change, and this was discussed in relation to stress resilience and a sense of coherence. Implications for the well-being of palliative care workers, and training and support programs that could have an impact on the quality of patient care, were also discussed.

Furthermore, stress can have a negative impact on the functioning of workers, including: work performance, sickness absence, job satisfaction, burnout, counterproductive work behavior, and employee turnover [e.g. Demerouti et al. 2001; Jensen, Patel, and Messersmith 2013; Baka 2017; Meisler, Vigoda-Gadot, and Drory 2017; Schonfeld, Bianchi, and Luehring-Jones 2017]. Hence, employers interested in improving worker health and minimizing health effects should take action to prevent stress at the workplace.

Workplace stress prevention should start with an assessment of the level and specificity of occupational stress, including a survey on the stress severity among workers and the identification of its sources. It is only after an initial assessment that changes should be introduced to the working environment to reduce stress levels and, where possible, eliminate stress sources and develop the employees’ ability to cope with stress.

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