Objectives: The aim of this study was to provide an insight into burnout and mental health problems of professional caregivers working in traditional and small-scale long term care settings for elderly residents with dementia in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Design: This study was part of a larger study investigating similarities and differences between traditional and small-scale long term care settings for elderly residents with dementia. In this article, the perspective of the professional caregiver is of central importance. A survey was conducted among professional caregivers of residents with dementia, older than 65 years, at 2 measurement moments (at baseline and after 12 months).
Setting: The questionnaire was administered to professionals working in traditional and small-scale long term care settings in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Participants: Professional caregivers (n = 80) working in 5 different care settings completed a questionnaire.
Measurements: The questionnaire included items on personal data, mental health problems (GHQ-12), and burnout (UBOS-C, divided into emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment). Analyses were conducted using Mixed Models analysis.
Results: Although mental health problems and emotional strain increased significantly over time in both types of settings and countries, overall levels of health problems and burnout were low. As regards emotional strain, professional caregivers in small-scale living facilities showed significantly increased levels in comparison with traditional units. Two significant differences between the countries were also found, with less "depersonalization" and more "personal accomplishment" in Dutch settings compared with Belgian settings. No differences emerged for type of setting or over time on "depersonalization" and "personal accomplishment." The analyses were controlled for age, sex, educational level, and work experience in dementia care, but did not yield significant effects.
Conclusion: Owing to cutbacks in expenditure, the growing number of people with dementia, and the heavier workload, the working environment will become increasingly challenging. Future research should focus on training professional caregivers working in long term care settings how to maximize the quality of client interaction while keeping burnout and mental health problems to a minimum.
Copyright © 2012 American Medical Directors Association, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.