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Journal Article

Citation

Markkanen P, Brouillette N, Quinn M, Galligan C, Sama S, Lindberg J, Karlsson N. BMC Health Serv. Res. 2021; 21(1): 1055.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2021, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group - BMC)

DOI

10.1186/s12913-021-07076-x

PMID

34610836

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Home care (HC) services are crucial to the health and social wellbeing of older adults, people with disabilities, and the chronically ill. Although the HC sector is growing rapidly in the USA, there is high job turnover among the HC aide workforce. HC provides an important alternative to facility-based care, yet it has often been overlooked within the larger health care system: most recently, in COVID-19 pandemic planning. The objective of the study was to characterize qualitatively the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on three key HC stakeholders: clients, aides, and agency managers.

METHODS: The study included 37 phone interviews conducted during April - November 2020: HC clients (n = 9), aides (n = 16), and agency managers (n = 12). All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative analysis of the transcripts followed the grounded theory approach. The interview transcriptions were coded line-by-line into hierarchical themes with NVivo 12 software which allowed weighting of themes based on the number of interviews where they were coded.

RESULTS: Fear of infection and transmission among HC clients and aides were strong themes. Infection prevention and control became the top priority guiding day-to-day business operations at agencies; sourcing adequate personal protective equipment for staff was the most urgent task. HC aides expressed concerns for their clients who showed signs of depression, due to increased isolation during the pandemic. The disappearance of comforting touch - resulting from physical distancing practices - altered the expression of compassion in the HC aide-client care relationship.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that the pandemic has further increased psychosocial job demands of HC aides. Increased isolation of clients may be contributing to a wider public health problem of elder loneliness and depression. To support the HC stakeholders during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, for future pandemic planning or other health emergencies, it is important to improve HC aide job retention. This action could also ease the serious care services shortage among the growing population of older adults.


Language: en

Keywords

COVID-19 pandemic; Home care; Home care aide; Home care aide job retention; Home health care; Infection prevention and control; Personal protective equipment; Psychosocial demands; Qualitative methods

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