Are rural aged care workers stressed out?

Vivian Isaac, Abraham Kuot, Mohammad Hamiduzzaman, Margaret Kimani, Jennene Greenhill

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The purpose of this presentation is to explore caregiver stress among aged-care staff working with people with advanced dementia in rural residential care

A major source of stress for aged-care staff arise from the residents who have challenging psychological and behavioural symptoms in advanced dementia. Such behavioural disturbances, including verbal or physical aggression, and excessive wandering, indicate distress in the residents, and cause stress for care staff. Caregiver stress may impact on staff turnover, absenteeism, and be detrimental to their mental health. Data for this analysis were derived from the larger rural multi-site Harmony in Bush (HiB) Dementia Study. HiB Dementia Studyis a quasi-experimental study aimed at developing a personalised plan of care based on the “Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold (PLST) Model” (Hall & Buckwalter, 1987), including a music/arts program and institutional changes in five (5) rural residental facilites. The study uses method triangulation with both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The present analysis focuses on staff stress measured using the Caregiver Stress Inventory (Maas and Buckwalter, 1990), a 7-point Lickert scale. Staff stress is defined as the response that individual staff members’ experience to incidents that occur in the daily care of persons with dementia.

Preliminary results indicate 75% of aged-care staff are personal carers. Mean score on the total caregiver stress inventory was 4.0 (SD 0.7) for nurses and 3.3 (SD 0.9) for personal carers. The domain scores were indicators of the source of their stress including: aggressive behaviour 4.0 (1.0); resident safety 3.8 (SD 1.1); inappropriate behaviour 2.8 (1.0) and resource deficiency 3.3 (1.2). Interestingly, there was significant higher stress for carers born overseas than those in Australia (t=2.3, p=0.02). Qualitative data would be used to triangulate the findings and will be presented.

Australian aged-settings are going through significant changes in the past decade; with all personal care provided by personal care workers. The study findings would have strong implications in developing systematic education programs for aged-care staff and to alleviate their stress.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event15th National Rural Health Conference: Better Together - Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Australia
Duration: 24 Mar 201927 Mar 2019 (Saved in Wayback Machine) (Program)


Conference15th National Rural Health Conference
OtherAustralia’s premier rural health event.
Four days immersion in rural and remote health and wellbeing. Hear the latest developments, network with leaders from across the sector, and help set the rural health agenda for the next two years.
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