The Home Care Work Environment for Personal Assistance Service Workers
Julia Faucett RN, PhD, Taewoon Kang PhD, and Robert Newcomber PhD
(Community Health Systems Department & Social and Behavioral Sciences Department School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco)
Published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, April 2013
Occupational injury is a prevalent problem in long-term care. However, there is a noticeable lack of research related to workers providing Personal Assistance Services (PAS) – the personal care and housekeeping tasks that enable elderly and other disabled adults to live in community settings. We conducted a statewide computer assisted telephone survey of PAS providers (n=855) from California’s In Home Supportive Services program to describe the homecare environment and its impact on the worker’s health and ability to provide care. PAS providers reported on a variety of household and personal care tasks, including client lifting and transfers, as well as on barriers to care delivery. A total of 262 providers (31%) reported musculoskeletal symptoms or acute injuries causing at least moderate pain (defined as ‘prominent’ problems) that had occurred in the prior 12 months; 25% of that group (n=65) reported 12 or more episodes in the previous 12 months of probable work-related musculoskeletal symptoms. Because of these prominent problems, 26 workers missed work, 54 changed their work duties, and 12 had to drop work hours or clients.
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