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Keywords:

  • home care;
  • home healthcare;
  • home care aides;
  • occupational safety and health;
  • preventive interventions;
  • worker safety;
  • patient safety

Abstract

Background

Home care (HC) aide is the fastest growing occupation, yet job hazards are under-studied. This study documents the context of HC aide work, characterizes occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards, and identifies preventive interventions using qualitative methods.

Methods

We conducted 12 focus groups among aides and 26 in-depth interviews comprising 15 HC agency, union, and insurance company representatives as well as 11 HC recipients in Massachusetts. All focus groups and interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded with NVIVO software.

Results

Major OSH concerns were musculoskeletal disorders from client care tasks and verbal abuse. Performing tasks beyond specified job duties may be an OSH risk factor. HC aides' safety and clients' safety are closely linked. Client handling devices, client evaluation, care plan development, and training are key interventions for both aides' and clients' safety.

Conclusions

Promoting OSH in HC is essential for maintaining a viable workforce. Am. J. Ind. Med. 57:445–457, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.