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STUDY: Job Satisfaction Levels Lowest Among Home Care Aides

May 1, 2014

Among the three primary occupational subgroups in the home care workforce, home care aides reported the lowest satisfaction levels with their wages, benefits, and overall job quality, a study shows.

The study’s authors, led by Robyn Stone of the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research, used data from the 2007 National Home Health Aide Survey to compare demographic and employment characteristics of three different types of home care workers:

  • Home health aides (HHAs)
  • Home care aides/personal care assistants
  • Hospice aides

The researchers examined data from a survey of more than 3,000 home care workers representing over 160,000 individuals employed by certified home health agencies and hospice providers. HHAs are by far the largest subgroup, comprising nearly 85 percent of the surveyed workers.

Of the three groups, home care aides were least likely to be satisfied at work. Only 34.4 percent said they were “extremely satisfied” with their jobs, compared with 47.8 percent of HHAs and 51 percent of hospice aides.

Additionally, only 7 percent of home care aides were “extremely satisfied” with their wages, and just 10 percent felt the same way about their benefits. Nearly half (49.3 percent) of home care aides said they were at least “somewhat likely” to leave their jobs within the year.

Wage/Benefits Differ by Occupation

The researchers’ analysis shows that hospice aides are generally the best compensated of the home care worker subgroups.

Hospice aides received the highest average hourly wage — $12.40, compared with $11.50 for HHAs and $9.50 for home care aides.

Nearly all hospice aides (97.2 percent) said they were offered health insurance, compared with roughly three-fourths of HHAs and home care aides. Additionally, hospice aides were much more likely to receive paid sick days and to work full-time hours than the other home care worker subgroups.

Most research on the home care workforce neglects to analyze the different occupational subcategories, the researchers write.

“Lacking understanding of how these workers differ makes it difficult to assess the extent to which public policies and private sector attempts to strengthen the home health workforce by enhancing training requirements, improving retention, and other efforts are likely to succeed,” they write.

One limitation of this study, the authors note, was the small and limited survey sample. Workers employed in unlicensed, non-medical home care agencies, and aides employed directly by consumers and their families — an additional 1.3 million home care aides/personal care assistants — were omitted.

The study was published on the website of Home Health Care Services Quarterly in late 2013.

— by Matthew Ozga

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