Survey of continuing care workers suggests majority have no plans to leave the sector despite challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.

SafeCare BC is the health and safety association for 28,000 continuing care workers across BC, who work in long-term care homes and provide home care and community health support. They strive to support the sector in fostering safe and healthy workplaces.

SafeCare BC’s annual member survey was released this month and revealed that while 77% of respondents reported feeling very (21%) or somewhat (56%) anxious about COVID-19, the majority of respondents (64%) indicated the pandemic had not changed their plans to continuing working in the sector in the next 12 months. And interestingly, of those whose plans had changed, more respondents indicated they were more likely to still be working in the sector in the next 12 months, versus those who were less likely.

For those who were more likely to be working in the sector in twelve months, the vast majority (81%) cited wanting to be there for their residents and clients. And of those who were less likely to still be working in the sector in twelve months, the majority cited burnout as the reason, and being concerned for either their own health or the health of their loved ones being a secondary concern. This was largely consistent across sectors and roles.

“The events of the pandemic have, in some ways, renewed people’s commitment to their work, as demonstrated in the percentage of people stating they were more likely to be working in the sector in twelve months as compared to before the pandemic,” says Jen Lyle, CEO, SafeCare BC, “however, it is notable that the primary reason cited for people planning on leaving the sector is burnout. We owe it to these workers to ensure there is a continued focus and investment on supporting psychologically healthy workplaces, which includes the sector and government continuing to address staffing shortages.”

To address issues of mental stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, SafeCare BC recently partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division and BC’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions on two new resources tailored to continuing care workers. This includes a dedicated web portal—Care for Caregivers —and Care to Speak, an online chat and telephone peer support service.
Respondents also valued SafeCare BC’s advocacy and support for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. The impact of Operation Protect, the most public-facing of SafeCare BC’s PPE initiatives, extended beyond the simple supply of PPE—respondents saw it as a public acknowledgement of the sector’s challenges and a statement of support for the sector.

Click here to view the detailed summary of survey results

To view an infographic summary of the survey results click here.