Stress among Care Workers Supporting Adults with Intellectual Disabilities.
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The aim of this study was to explore factors causing and alleviating stress among care workers working with adults with intellectual disabilities. Objectives included the following; to explore levels of stress among care workers, to explore causes of stress among care workers, to investigate the correlation between stressful life events and stress in the workplace, to explore the effects of workplace stress both on the organisation and the individual and to explore interventions which help prevent and alleviate stress.Care workers who support adults with intellectual disabilities work with the most vulnerable people in our society. It is in everybody’s interest, not only those who deliver the service but also those who receive it, that care workers are appropriately supported in what is an undeniably challenging role. Data was gathered, using the latest technology and resources, rather than traditional methods. Questionnaires were designed using ‘survey monkey’, an online survey development software. Social media, specifically Facebook, was used to distribute the questionnaires. By distributing the survey online in this way no direct contact was made with respondents, therefore maintaining privacy and confidentiality. It is hoped that this gave respondents the freedom to be completely open and honest in their answers. The questionnaire contained five sections. The first gathered demographics. The second section examined stressful life events, the third section examined causes of stress, the fourth section explored effects of stress and the final section examined supervision, support and how staff responded to stress. 112 questionnaires were filled in, in total, but only 96 were used in the study as 16 were incomplete. The results of the study correspond closely with previous findings, it indicated high levels of stress in the social care sector. Among the main sources of stress reported were managing behaviours of concern, bureaucracy and huge volumes of paperwork, lack of support from management and shift work. Interestingly, findings showed that there is a positive correlation between a high stressful life event score (Holmes and Raye, 1967) and high levels of stress at work. Therefore, if organisations have a genuine interest in tackling work related stress they should consider staff members life situation and support them accordingly. It could be argued that offering a more flexible shift pattern which can adjust to their lifestyle would be a good step towards successfully doing this. The overwhelming response from staff indicated that supervision in this sector is not viewed as a priority, with a very large proportion of respondents, (34%) reporting that they have never received any supervision. There is a significant positive link between respondents who want to stay in the sector and a positive relationship with a supportive manager. Overall respondents appear to have a positive attitude and genuine dedication to their work, with findings indicating a high rate of job enjoyment and genuine interest in improving the lives of the client they support. However, the practical outcomes and recommendations which reflect much of the findings of previous studies, should be considered if the high turnover rates in the sector are to be combatted and meaningful improvements in service delivery made.
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