Care Worker Motivations: Implications for Social Policy and the Future Care Workforce

PhD Thesis

Sandhu, Sima 2013. Care Worker Motivations: Implications for Social Policy and the Future Care Workforce. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Pyschology
AuthorsSandhu, Sima
TypePhD Thesis

The United Kingdom is facing an ageing population, which has repercussions for those receiving care, as well as for those funding and providing these essential services. Providing suitable and committed care staff is crucial to meet demand, but the care sector faces poor recruitment and retention of staff. The central aim of this thesis was to understand the factors that motivate individuals to engage and remain in paid care giving, from an evolutionary perspective, and the impact this may have for the recruitment and retention of care workers. Applying an evolutionary perspective, this thesis reconceptualised care work as mutualistic cooperation where both parties gain benefits from the formation of close and distinctive social alliances.
Based on a review of the literature and a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with care workers, care work emerged as a mutualist strategy, dependent on a set of key demographic, dispositional and situational factors, functioning within certain resource and environmental constraints. These insights informed the development of a psychometric measure appropriate for the assessment of individual differences associated with participation in care work. Principal component analytic techniques applied to pooled items reduced these to coherent subsets that were relativity unidimensional and potentially associated with care work as mutualistic cooperation.
The resulting questionnaire was surveyed amongst care workers and workers of a similar socioeconomic status to identify individual differences and preferences associated with participation in care work. Logistic regression models indicated significant predictors associated with participation in care work, including preferences for prosocial outcomes, amenable behaviours, and a demographic composition predictable of care work. This thesis concludes that care workers are mutualistic cooperators and that care environments should be structured to promote mutualist benefits in order to recruit and retain committed staff.

KeywordsWorkforce motivation; Care workers; Social policy
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintMay 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited20 Aug 2013
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