Study shows: Many care- givers in the nursing home sector consider changing jobs

Nursing home directors can do a great deal to retain personnel

Lüneburg. Many nursing home caregivers are exhausted—about one in five is thinking about switching careers. In nursing homes where the director pays attention to the health of his or her employees this figure is only one in ten however. These figures are the result of a study conducted by the health research network at Leuphana University of Lüneburg in cooperation with the Federal Association of Private Social Service Providers (bpa). With approximately 1000 interviewees from the elder care field, the survey is the largest study on the topic of health and job satisfaction conducted among employees working in nursing homes in Germany.

“The health condition of nursing home employees in the Lüneburg region is critical,” said Sabine Remdisch, professor for Personal and Organizational Psychology at Leuphana. “This situation produces not only many sick days, but also a considerable amount of presenteeism, in other words employees who are at their jobs despite their health problems.” The most common complaint is psychological strain: 30 percent of caregivers indicated that they felt tired, tense or overwhelmed either chronically or on an almost daily basis. About a quarter of respondents stated that several times a week, or more, they suffered from headaches. Every fifth respondent reported having trouble with falling or staying asleep almost every night. Over half of those surveyed admitted having gone to work despite feeling really sick on two occasions or more in the last twelve months; about a third even did so against the advice of their doctor. More than half of the respondents listed staff shortages and the high volume of paperwork as the key factors contributing to their lack of wellbeing. On the positive side the study reported that caregivers experience their work as meaningful, which reenergizes them.

“The study’s results show that caregivers clearly benefit from good management,” Remdisch emphasized. For nursing home caregivers whose administrators are concerned about their employees health – that is to say, who respond to warning signals about their employees’ health or who set an example for health consciousness through their own behavior – only one in ten is considering switching to another career. These employees also provide a higher subjective ranking for their own health than caregivers in other institutions. “For the directors of nursing homes it clearly pays off to watch out for their employees’ wellbeing,” Remdish said. “Given the shortages of skilled workers and the continuing demographic changes, it is key that they reinforce the caregivers motivation to remain with their current positions.”

For their study, “Organizational Health in the Nursing Home Care Sector,” connected to the Innovation Incubator at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Remdisch and the other two members of her team interviewed 1000 employees in 26 nursing homes of the former administrative district of Lüneburg. The interviewees included 500 elder caregivers, as well as ergo- and physiotherapists, housekeepers, and administrators, Additionally, they asked the nursing home managers about absentee rates, staff turnover rates, the make-up of the resident population, and their conception of a healthy organizational culture.

At a feedback event, the university provided each of the nursing homes that had participated in the study with an individualized report that placed their results comparatively within the study’s overall results. The researchers are currently discussing the results of their study with the respective nursing home directors and staff at each of the care facilities. In June they will start offering workshops for the nursing homes. Other formats such as seminars and health circles are planned for the future as well.  This project is part of the Innovation Incubator’s regional development project, through which Leuphana University of Lüneburg hopes to improve the knowledge transfer from the university to the region’s businesses and society.


Prof. Dr. Sabine Remdisch
Professor for Personal and Organizational Psychology
Telephone: +49.4131.677-7936
Cell Phone: +49.172.935.54.99