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Informal care, employment and quality of life: Barriers and facilitators to combining informal care and work participation for healthcare professionals

Informal care, employment and quality of life: Barriers and facilitators to combining informal care and work participation for healthcare professionals

Work 58(2): 215-231

In The Netherlands, one out of six Dutch employees has informal care tasks; in the hospital and healthcare sector, this ratio is one out of four workers. Informal carers experience problems with the combination of work and informal care. In particular, they have problems with the burden of responsibility, a lack of independence and their health. These problems can reveal themselves in a variety of mental and physical symptoms that can result in absenteeism, reduction or loss of (work) participation, reduction of income, and even social isolation. The aim of the study was to describe the factors that informal carers who are employed in healthcare organizations identify as affecting their quality of life, labour participation and health. We conducted an exploratory study in 2013-2014 that included desk research and a qualitative study. Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with healthcare employees who combine work and informal care. Data were analyzed with Atlas-TI. We identified five themes: 1. Fear and responsibility; 2. Sense that one's own needs are not being met; 3. Work as an escape from home; 4. Health: a lack of balance; and 5. The role of colleagues and managers: giving support and understanding. Respondents combine work and informal care because they have no other solution. The top three reasons for working are: income, escape from home and satisfaction. The biggest problems informal carers experience are a lack of time and energy. They are all tired and are often or always exhausted at the end of the day. They give up activities for themselves, their social networks become smaller and they have less interest in social activities. Their managers are usually aware of the situation, but informal care is not a topic of informal conversation or in performance appraisals. Respondents solve their problems with colleagues and expect little from the organization.

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Accession: 059860346

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PMID: 29036856

DOI: 10.3233/wor-172607

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