Care workers´ work load and use of technology in ederly care

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Virta building, auditorium 109, address: Åkerlundinkatu 5.

Doctoral defence of M.Sc. (Agricultural Sciences) Arja Rytkönen

Hoivatyöntekijöiden työn kuormittavuus ja teknologian käyttö vanhustyössä (Care workers´ work load and use of technology in ederly care)

The field of science of the dissertation is Sociology.

The opponent is Emeritus Professor Asko Suikkanen (University of Lapland). Professor Harri Melin acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is Finnish.

Care workers´work load and use of technology in elderly care

The study covered the work load and technology use of Finnish care workers in elderly care. To counterweight work load, the work empowerment were determined.

The average age of care workers, who responded to the survey, was 48.9 years. Many of the care workers had worked in the field for a long time. Elderly care mainly consisted of dining, hygiene, the administration of medication, and care procedures. The care workers also supported and comforted the customers.

Care workers consider their work to be physically strenuous and machine-paced. Care workers worked in a hunched, twisted or otherwise difficult position on a daily basis. In addition, they lifted and moved heavy items, or people, and worked in difficult working conditions. Many care workers felt physically tired after work. Several of them had difficulties with recovery from work.

The work involved also mental load from various aspects. A majority had experienced customer criticism and denouncing. Several care workers had encountered violent behaviour, threats and sexual harassment from customers. Workplace bullying took place at workplaces The scarcity of staff increased work load. Many carried out paid overtime work, and sometimes also unpaid overtime work.

The general appreciation of elderly care was considered to be low. Most of the care workers estimated that municipal officers and politicians do not appreciate their work, or appreciate it very little. The “general public’s” appreciation was also considered to be low by many care workers.
Customers were an important resource in work. The desire to help people was the main reason for choosing to work in the care sector. Other general reasons were to obtain a profession, varied work duties and a personal calling. Many considered good customer relationships and customers’ gratitude to be important. Encountering customers was also considered to be meaningful. The work content, working community and secured income were also important.

Most of the care workers agreed that technology is aimed to be used too much to replace human interaction in elderly care. They did not consider that the use of technology would provide more time to operate with the customers. The increasing amount of technology was not, however, considered a threat in losing their jobs. The necessity of technology is understood, when it corresponds to its purpose, is easy to use, flexible and operates without problems.

 Care workers were hoping that electronic data logging would be developed to be more flexible, and different software would be more compatible with each other. At the moment, it was considered that many spend a lot of their working hours logging data on computers.

The care workers were particularly concerned of the elderly people in home care. Some of the customers in home care are in such weak condition, that home care is no longer an appropriate location of care for them. Care workers hope for smaller care units, specialised units for e.g. customers with memory illnesses and more time for stimulating activities and going outdoors with the elderly people.  It was hoped that the sizing of care workers would be specified as to who can be considered in the number of care workers. Aptitude tests were hoped to be included for people applying to work in the care sector.

The material of the study was formed from the post questionnaire (N= 357) carried out in 2012 for SuPer’s members. SuPer in a Finnish trade union.  The response rate was 30 %. In addition to ready-made answer options, the care workers’ free-form answers and the care workers’ group interviews were used.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2410, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2018. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1920, Tampere University Press 2018.

The dissertation can be ordered at: Juvenes e-bookstore or by e-mail:

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