News You Can Use

We are compiling important information you can use in your day to day working life in long term care. Please check back for updates.

We’ve compiled important research you can use in your day to day working life.

Caring Even When it Hurts:

Workplace Violence and Musculoskeletal Pain Among LTC Workers

Physical violence is a known hazard in LTC workplaces. But we are just beginning to understand the many ways this affects workers’ health. Research in the United States looks at the link between violence and another hazard of LTC work: musculoskeletal pain. This kind of pain affects muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. This can make everyday activities harder, or even impossible.

This research is important because violence and musculoskeletal pain are not usually studied together. Instead of approaching these issues separately, however, these researchers looked for connections. Over two years, they studied how often workplace violence occurred for 334 nursing home workers, and how exposure to violence affected musculoskeletal pain.

This study found:

  • One in four nursing home workers, and 34% of nurses’ aides, reported persistent workplace assault over two years.
  • Among workers who were often assaulted, two thirds experienced moderate to extreme musculoskeletal pain. More than 50% had pain that interfered with their work and/or sleep.
  • Repeated assault was associated with an increase over 2 years in the risks of pain intensity, interference with work, and interference with sleep.

This study helps us understand how the effects of workplace violence add up over time. It shows that violence in LTC workplaces is harmful—in the short term and years later. No one should have to cope with violence and pain in their lives. We need efforts to address violence at many different levels to protect and improve LTC workers’ health both now and in the future.

For more information see:

        Miranda, H., Punnett, L., & Gore, R. J. (2014). Musculoskeletal Pain and Reported Workplace Assault: A Prospective Study of Clinical Staff in Nursing Homes. Human Factors, 56(1), 215-227.

Mental Health Support for LTC Workers:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Workers in LTC facilities can face many sources of stress on the job that harm their mental health. A recent study suggests that one type of therapy —Acceptance and Commitment Therapy—may be helpful.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is often known as ‘ACT’. This type of therapy helps people learn new skills to cope with stress and feel better. It focuses on skills like being aware of the present moment, being committed to one’s values, and being flexible in difficult situations.

To study ACT for LTC workers, researchers divided those who participated in their study into two groups. One group had two group sessions ACT. These sessions focused on topics such as acceptance, mindfulness, and mental flexibility. Meanwhile, the other group was assigned to a “waitlist” and did not attend any ACT sessions.

After comparing the two groups of workers they studied, researchers found those who had taken part in ACT sessions:

  • Reported significantly fewer days missed due to injury
  • Experienced reduced mental health symptoms compared to the other group
  • Rated the ACT sessions very favorably

This study suggests ACT is one type of therapy that can offer important tools for LTC workers. While more research is needed, ACT may help workers learn new skills that are useful for coping with stresses at work—which can add up to better mental health.

For more information see:

        O’Brien, W. H., Singh, R. S., Horan, K., Moeller, M. T., Wasson, R., & Jex, S. M. (2019). Group-Based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Nurses and Nurse Aides Working in Long-Term Care Residential Settings. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 25(7), 753–761. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2019.0087

‘Burning the Candle at Both Ends’:

Caregiving, Sleep and Work in LTC

Sleep is a universal human need, something important for everyone’s health. But not enough is known about how caregiving changes people’s sleep. A new study sheds light on this issue by exploring the sleep of women who work in nursing homes. 

We know that women often provide care for many people in their lives—and that this work can be paid or unpaid. This study considered how some women working in nursing homes entered and exited unpaid caregiving roles on top of their paid work. The goal was to understand how different ‘mixes’ of paid and unpaid care work affected women’s sleep.

Researchers focused on three groups of women. The first group only provided care on the job. The second group was working ‘double duty’ to care for children or elders on top of their paid work. The third group was working ‘triple duty’ to provide care for both children and elders.

The researchers found women who worked both ‘double’ and ‘triple’ duty to provide care:

  • Had less sleep than women who only provided care at work.
  • Had worse sleep quality than women who only provided care at work.

Caregiving—both paid and unpaid—is taking a toll on the sleep of women who work in long term care.  Researchers are calling for targeted intervention strategies to help women with multiple caregiving roles get both more sleep and better sleep.

For more information see:

        DePasquale, N., Sliwinski, M. J., Zarit, S. H., Buxton, O. M., & Almeida, D. M. (2019). Unpaid Caregiving Roles and Sleep Among Women Working in Nursing Homes: A Longitudinal Study. The Gerontologist, 59(3), 474–485. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnx185

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