Pro-Care Study: Health improvement for nursing home workers

Promoting Physical and Mental Health of Caregivers through Trans-disciplinary Intervention

Principal Investigator: Laura Punnett

Nursing home workers, especially nursing aides, are at high risk for low back injury and other muscle and joint problems due to their physical job demands. Our research started (2006-11) with the evaluation of a Safe Resident Handling Program (SRHP) in a large chain of skilled nursing facilities. Mechanical lifts and friction-reducing devices were purchased to reduce musculoskeletal disorders of nursing aides and other staff when moving and lifting residents.

In the second phase of research (2011-16), we evaluated the continued effectiveness of the SRHP and examined the relationship between worker and resident well-being, including mental health, sleep quality, and work-family balance. We collected new types of cost and corporate data to examine how specific organizational factors influence the health and safety of both employees and residents.

The research study goals addressed the following questions:

  • What organizational features predict safety, health, and satisfaction for employees and for residents? Are there a few quality indicators that consistently predict better outcomes?
  • Is the decrease in compensation claims (after implementing the SRHP) sustained over time?
  • Do net-cost savings measured during the first phase of SRHP implementation extend into later years? What factors seem to explain differences among facilities in net savings (or costs)?
  • Did the introduction of resident handling equipment change the average length of disability leave, severity of injury, or probability of injury recurrence among nursing aides with low back or other injuries related to resident handling?
  • What organizational characteristics (such as leadership culture, perceptions of social support, and other aspects of workplace climate) might predict sustainability of participatory and other employee health programs in the workplace?