Newly-published research conducted by SEIU 775 Benefits Group captures vital data on factors influencing the emotional wellbeing of Washington state’s Home Care Aides, or caregivers. It provides new insights for understanding the physical and mental health support caregivers need to thrive as essential healthcare professionals.
The research, published in Home Health Care Management & Practice, examines the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, among the state’s caregivers and their perceived level of social support.
Adverse Childhood Experiences refer to various traumatic events experienced in childhood. ACEs are common: nearly 2 out of 3 adults have experienced at least one. The more ACEs experienced in childhood, the greater risk of health challenges later in life, such as chronic health conditions and emotional health challenges. ACEs are assessed using a standardized scale that assigns a score from 0-10. Scores of 0-3 are considered low and scores 4-10 are considered high. In the general U.S. population, 16% of adults report an ACE score of 4 or higher.
After analyzing survey results of more than 400 randomly sampled caregivers on the SEIU 775 Benefits Group health plan, findings showed:
- Surveyed caregivers had notably higher ACE scores than the general population, with 27% of respondents with a score of 4 or higher.
- Caregivers with high ACE scores had notably lower levels of social support. 64% of surveyed caregivers with ACE scores of 1-3 reported having high levels of social support, versus only 40% of caregivers with ACE scores of 4 or higher.
In response to these findings, SEIU 775 Benefits Group has prioritized developing specific benefits and campaigns focused on the emotional wellbeing of caregivers in our state. This includes ongoing work to enhance SEIU 775 Benefits Group’s comprehensive, affordable health coverage, including its robust behavioral health support. It also includes providing resources to destigmatize mental health, encourage self-care and boosting preventive care to address chronic conditions.
“This research has helped SEIU 775 Benefits Group better understand the life experiences that have shaped caregivers. It has prompted us to think creatively about having an array of behavioral health resources, including low-barrier options for accessing support.” – Marcail Moody-Burks, Manager of Research Operations, SEIU 775 Benefits Group
Other initiatives that emerged from these findings include our Tools for Calm – Mindfulness for Caregivers course, as well as our partnership with Ginger, a convenient mental health support app with services including coaching, therapy, psychiatry and self-care resources. Resources and tools like these can be especially effective for caregivers who may not be comfortable with traditional behavioral health services.
“This research has helped SEIU 775 Benefits Group better understand the life experiences that have shaped caregivers,” said Marcail Moody-Burks, Manager of Research Operations and an author of the study. “It has helped us think creatively about having an array of behavioral health resources, including low-barrier options for accessing support.”
As demand for caregiving – especially certified Home Care Aides – continues to grow rapidly, so does the need to recruit, train and retain caregivers. And that starts with caregivers’ unique personal and professional needs. This study helps SEIU 775 Benefits Group better understand our population of caregivers and tailor our emotional health benefits and programs accordingly. By filling a critical gap in knowledge of the prevalence of ACEs among caregivers, this research can also serve as an important framework for other organizations seeking to promote the health and wellness of caregivers.