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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31734

Title: Family Members' Use of Private Companions in Nursing Homes: A Mixed Methods Study
Authors: Dergal, Julie
Advisor: McDonald, Lynn
Department: Social Work
Keywords: Private Companions
Nursing Homes
Quality of Care
Caregiving
Issue Date: 6-Jan-2012
Abstract: Families who are dissatisfied with the nursing home care of their family member may supplement their care by hiring a private companion. Families who have the financial resources pay for extra care, while families who cannot afford a private companion receive the current standard of care. Anecdotal evidence suggests that private companion use has increased over time. However, there is no research that examines private companions. The goal of this mixed methods study was to provide empirical evidence about who private companions are, what they do, and why they are needed. Andersen and Newman’s Health Service Utilization Model was used to understand private companion use. This study used both survey research and grounded theory. A mailed survey was completed by 280 of 432 family members of nursing home residents in a Toronto nursing home, yielding a response rate of 65 percent. Grounded theory principles were used to conduct interviews with 10 family members to understand why private companions were hired. Almost two-thirds of nursing home residents had a private companion. Family members reported that they paid about $475 per week for private companions who provided about 40 hours of care per week. Private companions were mostly women and immigrants. Private companions performed many activities including assisting with activities of daily living, toileting, feeding, escorting to activities, and providing social support. In the survey, family members reported hiring a private companion for reasons related to families’ needs (e.g. quality of care concerns), residents’ needs (e.g. deteriorating health); and staff recommendations. The family members reiterated these reasons in the interviews. Quality of care was the overarching theme that captured the reason for private companion use, which encompassed the following themes: inadequate staffing, unmet residents’ needs, overburdened family members, and suboptimal nursing home environment. The qualitative data emphasized the importance of building relationships with nursing home residents. The predictors of private companion use in the multivariate analysis were longer duration of nursing home stay, higher resident dependency, and family members’ concerns with quality of care. This research is among the first to study private companions, and has implications for research, policy, and practice.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31734
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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