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Reading: The fundamental role of the home-care worker in the lives of community dwelling older people.

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The fundamental role of the home-care worker in the lives of community dwelling older people.

Authors:

Lhara Mullins ,

National University Of Ireland, Galway., IE
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Margaret Hodgins

National University Of Ireland, Galway., IE
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Abstract

Introduction: Homecare enables older people to age at home as opposed to residing in long-term stay facilities. Homecare plays a fundamental role in supporting older people to age in place and acts as lynchpin within the spectrum of community and integrated care provision. Homecare workers practice within the unique and intimate confines of the home as a setting for care. Yet little research to date in Ireland has explored homecare, resulting in a limited evidence base from which to understand this phenomenon. Homecare work is often undervalued within the community care sector, with homecare workers frequently coming from marginalised groups in society and facing poor working conditions. Equally, the homecare sector in Ireland is not regulated and no legislation exists currently to ensure minimum standards and protection, for both older people and homecare workers.

Aims and objectives: This aim of this presentation will be to examine the impact of homecare provision on the lives of older people and homecare workers. A qualitative methodology was employed consisting of both focus groups and interviews with older people and homecare workers. The key objectives are to explore the factors which both older people and homecare workers identify as significant in impacting their experiences of homecare.

Key findings: Loneliness is a significant issue which impacts the provision of homecare to older people, based on the findings of this study. Results indicate that homecare workers in Ireland are substantially impacted in their provision of homecare to older people, by the issue of loneliness. While findings propose that older people, although not directly disclosing loneliness, report benefitting immensely from the social contact their homecare visit affords them. Homecare workers provide a service much more profound and comprehensive that reported in previous research. Results propose that homecare workers demonstrate genuine care and affection for the older people they visit, and close relationships often develop between the parties.

Conclusions: Loneliness appears to be a substantial issue affecting older people in Ireland. Homecare workers are addressing the social contact and social inclusion needs of older people, within their provision of care in the home. Older people are not self-disclosing loneliness, yet are expressing a profound need for social contact, which is being met by their homecare visit. Older people benefit immensely from the social contact their homecare visit affords them.

Implications: This study has illustrated the prominence of loneliness for older people in Ireland and the profound role of the homecare worker in addressing this. Such findings suggest that initiatives aimed at addressing the social contact needs of older people, may act as a tool for empowerment and health promotion for older people. Further implications propose that homecare workers play a truly momentous role in enhancing the lives of older people as they age at home. Such evidence will be useful for gauging the impact of current homecare provision, and also for planning future service delivery. 

How to Cite: Mullins L, Hodgins M. The fundamental role of the home-care worker in the lives of community dwelling older people.. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S3):40. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.ICIC22013
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Published on 04 Nov 2022.

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