Health and work : how do residential disability support workers view their work?

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Mitic, Dragana (2013) Health and work : how do residential disability support workers view their work? Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


This social qualitative research explored the ways in which residential disability support workers view their work, their work environment and conditions, their needs as workers, and how their work conditions influence quality of care. Sixteen people took part in the research, including 10 residential disability support workers, three senior coordinators and three union workers from the Melbourne metropolitan area. Individual semi-structured interviews were used as a data collection technique. The participants identified behaviours of concern, large workloads, difficulties with teamwork, staff issues, lack of supervision and support from house coordinators, and lack of support workers as significant sources of work-related stress and burn-out. The participants report that residential disability support work has a low status, the community does not understand disability support workers’ roles and there is no recognition of their skills and knowledge, even though the participants consider the role of disability support workers to be important and valuable. Shift work has been identified as an unavoidable part of disability support work and a major factor in affecting disability support workers’ social and family lives, with a potential to negatively affect their health and well-being in addition to large workloads and long hours. The findings suggest that the quality of support provided to clients is influenced by staff turnover and retention rates, the quality of support and supervision of disability support workers, quality and skill of disability support workers, their access to training, and resources of disability service organisations. The findings also suggest that work conditions and job satisfaction of support workers as well as quality of care for clients would be improved by a better professional status of disability support workers and by adding more value to their work; providing disability support workers with better access to training and professional development; and having skilled house coordinators who would provide appropriate support to disability support workers.

Additional Information

Master of Arts

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Keywords carers, Melbourne, work conditions, stress, anxiety, burn-out, health, life balance
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