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Keywords:

  • paid caregivers;
  • regulation;
  • training;
  • turnover

Abstract

Paid caregivers possess an essential role in home care services. However, recruitment and retention issues are extensive within this workforce, largely in relation to poor working conditions. This article primarily focuses on the qualitative data extracted from a large randomised controlled trial in New Zealand and is supported by some quantitative findings. The aim was to explore paid caregiver perceptions of a restorative home care intervention in comparison with usual home care. The purpose of the qualitative exploration was to gather rich descriptive data that highlight differences between the two services with an emphasis on the workforce viewpoint. Four focus groups were undertaken with paid caregivers, two at baseline (4 and 5 participants in the control and intervention groups, respectively) and two at 14 months (eight participants in each focus group). Focus group data were collected in December 2005 and February 2007. A general inductive approach was used to analyse focus group transcripts. Two themes emerged from both the control and intervention focus groups: relationship with older people and issues with home care service delivery. A further two themes were pertinent to the intervention group: job satisfaction and preintervention. Findings revealed the intervention had a substantial positive impact on paid caregiver job satisfaction in comparison with usual care. This appeared to be due to improved training, increased support and supervision, and more flexibility. The intervention resulted in positive changes from the paid caregiver perspective and substantially reduced turnover in comparison with usual home care. However, both groups identified the need for further improvements to their working conditions. In addition, the need to regulate this vulnerable workforce is discussed.