“Squeezed like a lemon”: A participatory approach on the effects of innovation on the well-being of homecare workers in Belgium

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Rachida Bensliman, Annalisa Casini, Céline Mahieu
Bensliman, R., Casini, A., & Mahieu, C. (2021). “Squeezed like a lemon”: A participatory approach on the effects of innovation on the well-being of homecare workers in Belgium. Health & Social Care in the Community, 00, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13506

Abstract : Innovative programs that emerge in response to the rapidly changing care needs of older adults provide an opportunity to study the transformations in working and employment conditions within the homecare sector. This study seeks to understand how innovations introduced in the homecare sector have affected the well-being of homecare workers providing non-medical domestic support to older adults who wish to age in place. Our study is based on a participatory approach involving homecare workers exposed to two innovations in Wallonia (Belgium) that relate to flexible working hours, worker training, and technological equipment. We conducted a literature review, six semi-structured individual interviews with managers, and eight workshops based on the ‘Group Analysis Method’ involving 9 to 12 homecare workers. The results revealed that the innovations deteriorated working conditions, intensified occupational psychosocial risk factors, and impacted work-life balance. This  gave rise to tensions that ultimately had a negative impact on the well-being of workers and on the quality of their care  relationship with older adults/caregivers, while also weakening the viability of the services. The workers proposed some avenues to improve and regulate these tensions.
Keywords : Belgium, caregivers, homecare workers, innovation, older adults, participatory approach, well-being

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Health and Social Care