Background: Community care workers’ experience of delivering support to people with dementia is less researched than that of residential workers. The purpose of the study is to explore community-based dementia care workers’ perspectives about their roles and the contextual variables that impact upon their work experiences.
Method: A qualitative design was employed. Twenty-five community dementia care workers (average age 53 years, majority female and employed casually) participated in standardized semi-structured interviews about their job roles, training, employer agenda, organizational support, and intention to stay. A deductive approach to Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was adopted to identify key themes.
Results: Three themes highlighted workers’ experiences. Occupational communion described strong attachment to clients and a desire for greater connection with colleagues. Job demands described the challenges of work, which varied with intensity. Job resources ranged from positive (strong organizational commitment) to negative (poor pay and conditions). Occupational communion was identified as a concept that exists at the interface between social and organization psychology that was perceived to be essential for adaptive coping. Identifying themes informed a conceptual model for designing intervention components aimed at improving workers’ skills, capabilities, and employer supportive functions.
Conclusion: Occupational communion may be particularly relevant for women's caring careers and future research is needed to explore the relevance of this concept for men. To determine reliable change associated with interventions that target occupational communion, further investigation is required in relation to measurement approaches.