Giving a Voice to Home Care Workers

An Empowering Data Collection Method and Source of Caregiving Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Julia Rollison, Jason Michel Etchegaray, Julia Bandini

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In this Perspective, the authors provide a brief background on (1) the important role that home care workers play in the United States, particularly during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; (2) how they gathered these workers' perspectives through the use of journaling; and (3) how journaling can serve as a valuable source of support and a flexible data collection method, especially when circumstances are changing rapidly, as in a public health crisis.

The authors gathered qualitative data to examine the concerns of, and potential solutions to support, home care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journaling offered a way to obtain home care workers' reflections on their work experiences during the pandemic while minimizing constraints on when data would be collected by the study team and eliminating physical contact, in compliance with public health measures. Participants were encouraged to express thoughts and experiences in other areas on a weekly basis, and to submit written or verbal diary entries. The study team then provided feedback to participants to build rapport, encourage participation, and make participants feel heard.

Journaling is a promising intervention to help home care workers and other caregiving professionals exercise self-care and cope with the various stressors they face in their professional and personal lives – particularly in very demanding periods, such as during a pandemic.

Funding for this research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by RAND Health Care and RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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