Good jobs, bad jobs: understanding the quality of aged care jobs and why it matters
Martin, William Craig
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Much research on paid care work focusses on this work as care> An equally important issue is its characteristic as paid work. This paper focusses on the characteristics of jobs in Australian aged care facilities, using data from a comprehensive 2003 national survey of direct care workers in Australian aged care facilities. It shows that, on a range of characteristics, including pay, aged care jobs compare quite well with other jobs held by Australians who have similar characteristics to aged care workers. Aged care jobs are certainly not unequivocally 'bad' jobs. Yet turnover rates amongst these workers are quite high. The paper shows that workers' expectations about remaining in the aged care sector depend largely on their experience of work, particularly their job satisfaction. Job satisfaction, in turn, is affected most by their experience of the work of caring. As in most workplaces, the ability to use their skills without hindrance is important. But care work offers distinctive rewards not captured by notions of professional identity and commitment. The paper concludes by suggesting that a focus on these distinctive rewards will be important in fully understanding paid care work as paid work.