Date: 19 Aug 2011

Client-related work tasks and meaning of work: results from a longitudinal study among eldercare workers in Denmark

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Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the association between the perception of client-related work tasks and the experience of meaning of work among eldercare workers in the Danish eldercare sector.

Methods

We used baseline and follow-up questionnaire data from 3,985 female eldercare workers. The eldercare workers’ perception of the client-related work tasks was measured by six items. Meaning of work was measured by a three-item scale. General linear modelling was used to investigate the association between the client-related work tasks at baseline and experience of meaning of work at follow-up adjusted for job title, type of workplace, and age.

Results

When care workers experience to have time to be flexible in the care provision and to be able to talk and socialize with the elderly, they are significantly more likely to experience meaning of work at follow-up than care workers who occasionally or rarely have this experience. Care workers who frequently experience to have to end a visit prematurely are significantly less likely to experience meaning of work at follow-up than care workers who rarely experience this. Experiences of having time to perform other than pre-planned tasks and to have insufficient time have little impact on experience of meaning of work at follow-up.

Conclusion

This study indicates that to enhance the experience of meaning of work among eldercare workers, improvements of the relational aspects of care work, i.e. the possibilities to talk, socialize, and involve the elderly in the care provision, should be considered.