Where Have All The Home Care Workers Gone? Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Because of the on-going need to co-ordinate care and ensure its continuity, issues of retention and recruitment are of major concern to home care agencies. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors affecting turnover decisions among visiting home care workers. In 1996, 620 visiting nurses and personal support workers from three non-profit agencies in a mid-sized Ontario city participated in a survey on their work and health. By the fall of 2001, 320 of these respondents had left the agencies. Analysis of the turnover data showed a temporal association between the implementation of managed competition and turnover. We mailed a self-completion questionnaire asking about their reasons for leaving the agency and about their subsequent work experience. One hundred and sixty nine (53%) responded to this survey. Respondents indicated dissatisfaction with the implementation of managed competition, with pay, hours of work, lack of organizational support and work load as well as health reasons, including work-related stress, as reasons for leaving. Less than one-third remained employed in the home care field, one-third worked in other health care workplaces and one-third were no longer working in health care. Their responses to our 1996 survey were used to predict turnover. Results show that nurses were more likely to leave if they had unpredictable hours of work, if they worked shifts or weekends and had higher levels of education. They were more likely to stay with the agency if they reported working with difficult clients, had predictable hours, good benefits, had children under 12 years of age in the home, and were younger. Personal support workers were more likely to leave if they reported higher symptoms of stress, and had difficult clients. They were more likely to stay if they worked weekends and perceived their benefits to be good.