The dual role in focus: when healthcare professionals also care for relatives in their private life.
Healthcare professionals often become more involved than other professional groups in the care of their sick, disabled or elderly relatives. These are the findings of organisational surveys conducted by Careum Research and international research literature. One reason for this is that healthcare professionals already have specific expertise relating to their relatives. This can be helpful. However, it can also be worrying, for example, having background knowledge of the prognosis for a disease. This dual role is known internationally as “double-duty caregiving”. This means that healthcare professionals are involved, both professionally and privately, in caring for dependants.
Little is known about the interrelationship between these professional and private commitments. It is therefore unclear how many healthcare professionals in Switzerland are assuming the dual role described. There has also been little research so far into the consequences for private and professional life. If the people concerned do not manage to reconcile their work with caring for their relatives, there may be a potential threat of them leaving their professional activities prematurely. Against the background of the predicted skills shortage in healthcare, organisations therefore need to face the issue of reconciliation.
The project is aimed at the following effects in healthcare:
- employees improve the quality of care as a result of increased motivation and commitment
- increasing labour costs are avoided and the impending skills shortage is mitigated as a result of reduced staff turnover
- increasing appeal on the job market by improving the image of the Organisation
As part of the research project, the first step was to interview the healthcare professionals concerned, to better understand the dual role. The second step was to investigate the extent of the dual role using the “double duty caregiving scale”, provided by Canadian researchers at the University of Western Ontario. Findings are being used to develop a transfer concept with organisations, to enable good applications in practice.
July 2015–December 2017
Swiss Nursing Sciences Foundation, Basel
Department of Health and Environment of the City of Zurich
Department for the Equality of Men and Women in the Canton of Zurich