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SURVEY: Inability to Grieve for Clients Lowers Home Health Aides’ Job Satisfaction

April 27, 2016

Home health aides (HHAs) who are not given the opportunity to properly grieve for recently deceased consumers are more likely to want to leave their jobs, a survey published in the April issue of Home Healthcare Now suggests.

The survey’s authors spoke to nearly 80 HHAs, approximately half of whom worked for an agency that explicitly forbade them from having any follow-up contact with a consumer’s family after a death.

“Narrative accounts indicated that [the] HHAs had developed a close relationship with patients and family and they perceived their agency’s restrictive policy regarding follow-up contact after patient death as problematic,” the survey says.

The survey data indicates that HHAs who work for an agency with such a restrictive policy are more likely to want to leave their jobs within the year. The HHAs also reported significantly lower satisfaction with their supervision.

The survey’s authors, who are affiliated with the gerontology department at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, cited previous research showing that HHAs experience “significant grief” when a consumer dies. But due to the restrictive policies of some agencies, they might not be able to productively resolve that grief.

“Specifically, some [HHAs] reported that they would have liked to have had such contact, to offer condolences or attend a funeral, but abided by the agency policy,” it continues, “whereas others decided to go against the policy and make contact with the family after patient’s death.”

“Home care agencies with similar restrictive policies around patient death may want to consider reviewing such policies and their possible impact on employees,” they conclude.

— by Matthew Ozga

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