Support workers in community mental health teams for older people: exploring sources of satisfaction and stress

Jasper R, Wilberforce M, Abendstern M, Tucker S, Challis D

Journal of Long-term Care 2019, September, 111—118

Available online 11 Sep 2019

Abstract

Context
Support workers play an essential role in multidisciplinary community mental health teams for older people (CMHTsOP) in England. However, little is known about how they perceive their role or the impact this has on their levels of stress, wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Objectives
To compare CMHTsOP support workers’ perceptions of the psychosocial characteristics of their work with those of registered CMHTsOP practitioners.

Methods
A postal survey of CMHTsOP staff in nine mental health trusts. Information was collected about job demands, controls and support using the Job Content Questionnaire. Additional data was collected on other psychosocial features of CMHTsOP working using job satisfaction and intention-to-quit measures and a set of bespoke statements which were supplemented by a subset from the Occupational Stress Indicator.

Findings
Responses were received from 43 support workers and 166 registered practitioners. Support workers reported significantly lower job demands and better co-worker support than registered practitioners. They were also significantly more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to believe that their skills and strengths were used appropriately. The majority of both groups were positive about their team’s climate and their value and identity within it.

Limitations
Although the study explored the psychosocial characteristics of work that contribute to wellbeing, it did not directly measure stress.

Implications
Given the growing number of CMHTsOP support workers and their diverse roles, future research might usefully explore the specific tasks which contribute most to individual satisfaction and wellbeing.