What Do Direct Care Workers Say Would Improve Their Jobs?

The intent of the Better Jobs Better Care (BJBC) demonstration was to examine policies and practices that would bolster recruitment and retention of direct care workers, as well as improve job quality.

This study explored the perspectives of direct care workers on how employers could improve their jobs. The study also examined if workers’ recommendations differed based on the types of facilities in which they worked. Study participants were 3,468 direct care workers who completed a baseline survey that included an open-ended question about recommendations for improving their jobs. Responses were coded and categorized in the analysis.

Key Findings:                       

  • Across work settings, participants highlighted more pay and improvements in work relationships in their recommendations. Better work relationships were characterized by attributes such as being listened to and respected.
  • Recommendations varied according to types of facilities in which participants worked. For example, workers in nursing facilities specified hiring more or better staff more frequently than did workers in assisted living or home care facilities.
  • Fewer direct care workers identified management system improvement as a recommendation.

To improve jobs of direct care workers, managers should ask workers for their perspectives. Being prepared to act upon recommendations with a multifaceted approach could enhance the success of job improvement efforts.