November 3, 2023

Preparing assisted living workers for resident death can improve job satisfaction, end-of-life care: study

McKnights Senior Living

Preparing assisted living direct care workers for the emotional effects of losing a resident in their care could improve job satisfaction for them and quality of end-of-life care for residents, according to the results of an award-winning study.

Assisted living communities are becoming a common place for end-of-life care, with two-thirds of the settings allowing residents to enroll in hospice care to age in place. But researchers from Emory University and Georgia State University found that a lack of training about death among caregivers contributed to fear and misunderstanding in how to support resident quality of life. Their study appeared in the Journal of Aging Studiesand recently received a Silver 2023 Mather Institute Innovative Research on Aging Award.

The five-year study, conducted between 2016 and 2020, involved in-depth interviews and observations with 38 direct care workers and 27 administrators at seven metropolitan Atlanta assisted living communities. The investigators said they found that the emotional work involved in caring for dying residents, along with ambiguity about appropriate ways to grieve, placed further stress on the workers, which could further exacerbate burnout and staff turnover.

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