Demographic ageing has resulted in increasing need for long-term care ser- vices. In order to ensure the sustainability and efficacy of long-term care systems, it is paramount to have a well-qualified, motivated and healthy workforce. To this end it is important to have a good picture of the present working conditions of the long-term care workforce in order to anticipate future needs in this area.
This study was commissioned by the Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, with the purpose of gathering information on the working conditions of the long-term care workforce in Austria. The study aimed to cover both those employed in the home and residential care sector. The questionnaire used was adapted from a similar sister study conducted in the Nordic countries (NORDCARE), Germany and Canada (among others), so that in a second step international comparisons may be drawn.
The study was based on a survey of a random sample of workers from different home and residential care providers in three regions in Austria (Vienna, Upper Austria, Salzburg). The survey was conducted both online and postal and covered a total of 1,110 workers. Quantitative research methods were used to analyse the results such as differences by regions, type of provider or its size, working conditions of particular professions in the care sector and workers of particular backgrounds such as migrant care workers.
The results show manifold insights into the working situation of the long-term care workforce in Austria. Overall, long-term care workers, particularly in the residential care sector, have experienced a deterioration of working conditions over the last years. On the one hand this can be related to the increasing demands and needs of people in need of care, on the other hand time limitations and staff shortages add to such experiences. Long-term care workers are therefore confronted with numerous burdens and demands at the workplace. While the application of individual coping strategies partly helps to deal with such burdens, high levels of psychological and physical constraints nevertheless result in a subjectively perceived bad health status. Despite organizational characteristics it is thus the health status that significantly impacts on the future considerations of the workforce to continue working in the sector. In order to secure sustainable human resources for the long-term care sector, prevention and health promotion measures as well as developments in work organization such as autonomous and person-centred forms of work are key factors in improving working conditions.