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Health Care Aides' Struggle to Build and Maintain Relationships with Families in Complex Continuing Care Settings*

  • Katherine S. McGilton (a1), Sepali Guruge (a2), Ruby Librado (a3), Lois Bloch (a4) and Veronique Boscart (a5)...


Research on the relationships between health care aides (HCAs) and families of clients has been situated mainly in long-term care settings and includes scant findings about the perceptions of HCAs. Based on the findings of a larger qualitative study using a grounded theory approach, this paper addresses the topic of HCA–family relationships in complex continuing care (CCC). In-depth individual interviews with eight HCAs and a follow-up focus group with HCAs from three CCC facilities were analysed. Building relationships with families entailed “being there for them and their relatives”, while maintaining relationships involved “dealing with disappointments”. Factors influencing building and maintaining HCA–family relationships included “having supportive team members”, “having resources available”, and “functioning within care-team hierarchies”. The findings highlight the importance of minimizing the unit and organizational factors that disrupt HCA–family relationships.

La recherche sur les relations entre les aides-soignants (AS) et les familles des clients est menée principalement dans le milieu des soins de longue durée, et elle offre peu de résultats sur la perception des AS. Sur la base des résultats d’une étude qualitative plus étendue à l'aide d’une méthode basée sur une théorie reposant sur les faits, le présent article traite des relations AS-famille dans le cadre de soins continus complexes (SCC). Des entrevues individuelles approfondies avec huit AS et un groupe de suivi avec les AS de trois établissements de SCC ont été analysées. l'établissement de relations avec les familles nécessitait «être présent pour eux et leurs parents», tout en maintenant des relations comprenant le fait d’avoir à «faire face à une déception». Parmi les facteurs influençant l'établissement et le maintien de relations AS-famille, il faut noter «avoir des membres d’un groupe de soutien», «avoir des ressources disponibles» et «établir une structure hiérarchique dans l'équipe des soins de santé». Les résultats soulignent l'importance de réduire l'unité et les facteurs organisationnels qui dérangent les relations AS-famille.


Corresponding author

Requests for offprints should be sent to:/Les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : Katherine McGilton, R.N., Ph.D., Research scientist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 130 Dunn Ave, Suite 236B, Toronto, ON M6K 2R7, (


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The authors thank the health care aides who participated in the study. This research has been supported by a grant from the Collaborative Research Program: Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care, and the Canadian Nurses Foundation. The authors also acknowledge funding from Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.



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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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