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Authors

  1. Boerner, Kathrin PhD
  2. Gleason, Hayley MSW, MS
  3. Barooah, Adrita MS

Abstract

Home health aides (HHAs) are members of a rapidly growing occupation. They often develop close ties to patients and their family and can experience significant grief when a patient dies. Yet agencies often provide little support or structure to help staff cope during this time. For instance, home care agencies do not always notify their staff of client death and some have policies in place to prevent any follow-up contact with a deceased client's family. Little is known about how these agency factors affect HHAs' work experience. This mixed-method study explored the experiences of 78 HHAs working either at an agency with a restrictive policy regarding contact with a client's family after client death or an agency without such a policy in place. Data were collected through semistructured in-person interviews. Employment outcomes included various aspects of job satisfaction and intention to change jobs. HHAs' responses to client death were assessed with measures of grief and grief processing, and with open-ended questions exploring their experiences in this context. Findings indicated that HHAs from the restrictive agency were significantly more likely to be considering other job options. They also reported significantly lower satisfaction with received supervision, and significantly less grief processing activity. Findings suggest that HHAs from the agency without a contact-restrictive policy had a more positive experience at work and more opportunity to process the client's death.