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  • Publication
    Healthcare Assistants and Qualified Carers, A Trained, but Untapped Underutilised Resource: A population-based study in Ireland of skillset, career satisfaction, wellbeing and change across all sectors and care settings
    INTRODUCTION: This report addresses aspects of the function, wellbeing and satisfaction of healthcare assistants and qualified carers in Ireland. The study on which it is based was undertaken under the auspices of the Irish Healthcare Assistants and Carers Ireland Social Association. It set out to elicit the views of carers about their background, training, skillset, work environments and conditions, career satisfaction and aspirations and is based on responses from almost 2,000 healthcare assistants and carers. It is the first study of its kind in Ireland. The report provides a historical perspectives on the evolution of the caring role in Ireland and internationally with the development of hospitals and healthcare. In parallel with this there have been changes in the perception of the role and those who carry it out, the training required and in the value placed on it by society. METHODS: This is a quantitative, cross-sectional population-based study of Healthcare Assistants and Qualified Carers in Ireland. The population for this study were all members of HCA and Carers Ireland, the national association and support network for Healthcare Assistants and Qualified Carers in Ireland. Participants were employed in different areas of care during the study period, which lasted two weeks to allow for work schedules and shift work and to obtain as many responses. All data collected was anonymous and was collected using two published and validated research instruments, The General Well-being Schedule (GWBS) and The Minnesota Career Satisfaction Survey (MCSS). The instruments were incorporated into an accessible Google form for online distribution. Descriptive and comparative statistics were carried out to analyse the data collected. RESULTS: Skills acquired in training appear to be closely aligned with those needed in practice. Three quarters of respondents reported training in activities of daily living (ADL); almost half reported training in dementia care; 20% reported both training and use in practice of skills relating to medication administration. It is of note, however that 16% of respondents did not have a full formal qualification in caring. In terms of general satisfaction with their chosen career 11% of respondents reported with a high degree of satisfaction, while 87% of respondents reported an average level of satisfaction. Of note, 6% reported a high degree of Intrinsic satisfaction (i.e. satisfaction with occupational condition) while 91% reported average satisfaction. Responses to the General Wellbeing Schedule (GWS) demonstrated more than half (54%) reported positive (41%) or low positive (13%) wellbeing; 13% reported marginal wellbeing while 31% appear to be experiencing significant stress or distress. CONCLUSION: This study aimed to provide real, precise information for policy makers, institutions and companies to inform policy, legislation and change from the perspective of the population it affects. The study did find that there is still much room for improvement for the development of the role, legislation, policy and skillset of healthcare assistants and qualified carers. Regarding general wellbeing, there still remains issues regarding stress problems, which the population suspect is from their occupation; this was found to be statistically significant. In relation to career satisfaction, a majority of the study population are in a grey area regarding how satisfied they are with their occupation. There still remains many opportunities to entice people into the occupation which have not been availed of yet; but accreditisied professionalisation of the role is required to ensure that Ireland stay in line with international guidelines and continue to protect and ensure patient safety, worker mental health and betterment of public health.