Objectives In countries with ageing populations, home care (HC) aides are among the fastest growing jobs. There are few quantitative studies of HC occupational safety and health (OSH) conditions. The objectives of this study were to: (1) assess quantitatively the OSH hazards and benefits for a wide range of HC working conditions, and (2) compare OSH experiences of HC aides who are employed via different medical and social services systems in Massachusetts, USA.
Methods HC aides were recruited for a survey via agencies that employ aides and schedule their visits with clients, and through a labour union of aides employed directly by clients or their families. The questionnaire included detailed questions about the most recent HC visits, as well as about individual aides’ OSH experiences.
Results The study population included 1249 HC aides (634 agency-employed, 615 client-employed) contributing information on 3484 HC visits. Hazards occurring most frequently related to musculoskeletal strain, exposure to potentially infectious agents and cleaning chemicals for infection prevention and experience of violence. Client-hired and agency-hired aides had similar OSH experiences with a few exceptions, including use of sharps and experience of verbal violence.
Conclusions The OSH experience of HC aides is similar to that of aides in institutional healthcare settings. Despite OSH challenges, HC aides enjoy caring for others and the benefits of HC work should be enhanced. Quantification of HC hazards and benefits is useful to prioritise resources for the development of preventive interventions and to provide an evidence base for policy-setting.
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