Ambiguities in Preventing Infections in Nursing Homes: Care Workers Experiences and Implications for Future Policies

Carolina Falcão Duarte*, Jaap Daalhuizen, Nete Schwennesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Preventing infections in nursing homes is highly challenging, given the ambiguous nature of nursing homes as care institutions and places to live. Yet, little is known about how care workers experience preventing infections in this context. Understanding the ambiguities experienced by care workers in nursing homes when enacting infection prevention is crucial to preparing for future health crises. This study investigates and identifies the ambiguities care workers faced and experienced when preventing infections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews and observations were combined to capture narratives and behaviors related to infection prevention and care work. By using thematic analysis, three types of ambiguity were identified: (a) an Ambiguous sense of purpose, (b) Environmental ambiguity, and (c) Information ambiguity. The findings provide a nuanced understanding of the ambiguities care workers face and experience in nursing homes when preventing infections and indicate that such ambiguities impact their behaviors and attitudes. From this study, it is possible to conclude that policymakers must consider nursing homes’ ambiguous characteristics in infection prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Aging and Social Policy
ISSN0895-9420
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Ambiguity
  • Care workers
  • COVID-19
  • Infection prevention
  • Nursing home
  • Older adults

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