What Are Human Factors Affect Personal Support Workers? Research Paper

The purpose of the article below is to provide how different human factors affect personal support workers within patient homes. It examines the biopsychosocial factors that may impact performance of the individual in the occupation. As the environment for personal support workers varies depending on the client demands, the factors are plenty with various consequences. These factors will be further discussed, along with consequences that arise and the overall effect on the worker. Overview of profession Personal support workers (PSW) are individuals that provide support to long-term care for individuals who need assistance in daily living.

Each patient is assigned to a personal support worker based on his or her need; however, with increasing need their time for care increases. Often times a patient can receive all day, all night care or support on an hourly basis a few times a day. The job of a personal support worker within the home involves following the plan that a regulated care provider sets out. The worker is responding to support the client in their needs. The duties of a personal support worker are to work in a private setting to meet the client and their family’s needs.

Tasks vary depending on the individual but usually involve following the patient’s specific care plan. Often times this care plan includes performing tasks asked of them, assisting with positioning the patient and personal care or hygiene. Other duties they can complete involve assisting the patient with dressing, eating, grooming or even their exercise prescriptions given by a physiotherapist. This profession can be impacted by several human factors as the environment from each patient home varies in many ways. Main Human Factors Associated

The main consideration with this profession is that the environment is constantly changing depending on the patient’s home. This affects psychology, cognition and performance in many different manners. Main human factors associated with being a personal support worker are: 1. Communication/ Workplace Organization 2. Distraction and attention 3. Mental and Physical Stress 4. Lighting and Noise (Varying environments) Factor-Profession Relation Communication is an integral part of an employee’s position in an organization as it impacts their productivity.

Often times a larger corporation that distributes the supports of personal support workers. This organization is responsible for their scheduling and notifying the patients of their visits to their homes. The organization is set to notify the personal support worker and patient of any cancellations or service time changes. Frequently the organization fails to notify the personal support worker of the client cancelling their service leading to them finding out when reaching their destination.

This can add to increased stress, use of resources and loss of time. Studies have identified role conflict, ambiguity and overload as antecedents of occupational stress (e. g. , Brief & Aldag, 1976; Ivanceyich, Matteson, & Preston, 1982; Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964; Manning, Ismael, & Sherwood, 1981; Rosse & Rosse, 1981). When the personal support worker is scheduled between different clients in small time intervals, it leads to little time for rest and an increased level of fatigue.

The communication of scheduling also leads to time missed for the worker’s meals, rest time and can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. It is important to consider that though each schedule and time requirement of clients is different, the overlooking organization can rearrange schedules to reduce pressure on one personal support worker. When the employee is not communicated with effectively it can often lead to further scheduling conflicts creating an increase in internal and external factors impacting performance.

Other important factors when working as a personal support worker are distraction and attention. The patient themself can demand for different levels of attention as well as external stimuli in the worker’s home. Humans are unpredictable, especially while needing the care of another person due to varying levels of illness and differing personalities. Patients may become verbally or physically aggressive towards their personal support worker. This behaviour could take a toll on the personal support worker physically and mentally depending on the severity of the damage.

If the patient hits/bites/throws an object at the worker, it could severely damage them whether it is a broken bone or a gash, and leave the worker out of work until they are healed. These instances can distract the worker from their task, dividing their attention and leading to a decrease in performance. It is important for personal support workers to get to know their patients and follow their schedules properly such as giving proper medications at proper times so that they are effective at their job (Warth, G. ). , 2011).

Mental Stress can impact the performance of a personal support worker as well. Mental stress could be a result of overworking long hours throughout the day with patients that require intense supervision and care. Personal support workers can also end up with high amounts of mental stress by working with more difficult patients such as those with mental health problems, or disabilities.

Support workers who care for the needs of adults with cognitive disabilities could experience severe behaviours, which not only result in physical stress from aggression, but also cognitive tress from potential patient abuse. Another mental stress that can influence personal support workers is the stress of dealing with the death of patients. PSW’s travel to different homes as well as working in old retirement homes, where mortality rates are high. This can be a mentally stressful occurrence for personal support workers. Physical stresses in this occupation range from moderate to high intensity activities that add up to an average of more than four hours per day and up to six days of work per week.

At times based on the scheduling and intensities of the activities many of the PSW may not be able to choose when to take a break. Occasionally lifting and carrying loads under forty pounds, frequently standing for extended periods of time, often walking for a short period of time, positioning and transferring clients during assistance with routine activities of daily living, holding the body in one position for an extended period of time, lastly bending for an extended period of time can all add to physical stress. All theses activities cause fatigue, tension and possible injury.

In accordance with this, being alone or being left to solely care for a resident, in an environment that requires teamwork, presents significant health and safety and physical dangers for both workers and residents. As stated by the PSW headquarters of information, travelling, deceitful driving conditions and travelling to isolated locations are some common characteristics of community work. There are also depending on the patient condition such as those who suffer from dementia and other mental health issues. Incapacitated clients can be extremely difficult to deal with; they can also be argumentative and prone to wandering.

This leads to further distraction, division of the attention of the worker and thus can impact performance negatively. Personal support workers are expected to do their jobs in any given environment. Therefore if they get a job where they have to go into a home, they need to be aware of certain conditions that may be strenuous on them while still being able to care for the patient. Regardless of the environmental factor, personal support workers need to adjust and modify accordingly. One issue that they might face is that of poor lighting.

The effects of poor lighting include but are not limited to the following: headache, eyestrain, low levels of productivity, posture, accident, and general well being (Priest, S. , 2016). When there is poor lighting in the work area the strain on the eyes is increased. By doing so, this creates headaches that may avert you from performing your best (Priest, 2016). When personal support workers constantly spend long hours in a work environment with bad lighting it can degenerate the quality of their eyesight, causing irritation, redness, and dryness.

Poor lighting has the consequence to decrease personal support workers productivity as well as accuracy. It also has to potential to lower their ability to focus on small detail that have detrimental effects such as the amount of medication needed to be given. Inadequate light can lead to fatigue, which in turn can drain the worker. The most prominent result of this situation is an increase in human error (Priest, 2016). Consequences for Inconsideration of Factors The above factors are all crucial to human performance within the profession of personal support worker.

If these factors are not considered there could be numerous negative consequences as a result. These consequences would not only affect the worker, but the patient, and the agency whom the worker is representing. Negative consequences from lack of consideration of these factors include poor performance from the worker due to fatigue, physical muscle, joint pain, and high levels of stress. The employee undergoing these factors would affect the services the worker is providing and the quality of performance. This then would result in a lower level of care for the patient that could negatively affect the health of the client.

A long-term implication is the increase of strain on the overall healthcare system. The decrease of health of the patient and worker would result in more strain of healthcare resources. In a monetary manner, it could cause the organization to lose patients, assets and overall reputation as a service corporation. The establishment would also have to deal with higher sick day rate and a decrease in profit. Not considering these factors will have a detrimental consequence on not only the worker, but also the ill patient, and the overall reputation of the company.