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New aged care research focuses on health of workers


A study is investigating how employment conditions impact on the health of older aged care workers.

The research, which is being conducted in partnership by the University of Melbourne and the Brotherhood St Laurence, is targeting older adults employed in direct care roles in the aged care sector.

The study aims to explore the connections between older workers’ employment conditions and their health as well as inform efforts to improve work conditions and policies.

The researchers are recruiting 20 older workers from different life situations for qualitative interviews.

“We aim to learn about people’s family roles, their work and money situation, their health, and experiences of ageing,” said lead investigator Professor Shelley Mallet.

Professor Mallett is general manager, research and policy at Brotherhood of St Laurence and professorial fellow of social policy at the University of Melbourne.

She said the study was in response to an ageing aged care workforce coupled with forecasts that labour force participation among older adults, and particularly women, were set to increase.

“Just as jobs, services and employment policies have had to be designed to accommodate mothers’ return to the labour market, they will now need to be re-designed for older workers,” Professor Mallet told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Employed parents face challenges around work and raising children while the primary dilemma for older employees and their workplaces is their health, she said.

“Relative to younger adults, older workers are more vulnerable to workplace health hazards, have more chronic health conditions and some will also be caring for others. Poor health is a common reason for older workers to cease work involuntarily.”

This study is a part of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project ‘Working longer, staying healthy and keeping productive,’ which includes five studies each taking a different approach to informing policy development around older workers and their workplaces.

The researchers are seeking participants aged 50 or over who are employed in a direct care role in the aged care sector.

Those interested are invited to complete a five-minute online survey and asked to be available for a one-hour interview if called upon.

“In this interview, we will ask about your work, your life circumstances and how these relate to your health. We are hoping to hear from people with different work situations, varying levels of health and different life circumstances,” Professor Mallet said.

Complete the survey here and find about more about the study here.

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