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The Gerontologist 44:479-488 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Work-Life Differences and Outcomes for Agency and Consumer-Directed Home-Care Workers

A. E. Benjamin, PhD1, and Ruth E. Matthias, PhD2

Correspondence: Address correspondence to A. E. (Ted) Benjamin, Department of Social Welfare, School of Public Policy and Social Research, University of California–Los Angeles, 3250 Public Policy Building, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656. E-mail: tedbenj{at}

Purpose. Research on home-care outcomes has highlighted the promise of consumer-directed models that rely on recipients rather than agencies to arrange and direct services. However, there has been little research on workers employed directly by recipients. This study examined differences in work-life and worker outcomes between workers in consumer-directed versus agency care as well as between family and nonfamily workers. Design and Methods. A random sample of 618 workers in the In-Home Supportive Services program in California was selected and interviewed by telephone between September 1996 and March 1997. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish, and three Asian languages, with a focus on worker stress and satisfaction. Results. Findings indicate a mixed portrait of worker experience and outcomes. Most model differences disappear when other variables are controlled, but some worker-stress differences persist between models and types of worker. Implications. On most dimensions of stress and satisfaction, consumer-directed workers report outcomes equal to or more positive than agency workers. Efforts to improve the work life of home-care workers should acknowledge the strengths of consumer-directed approaches and target all workers across models.

Key Words: Home care • Service model • Family caregiver • Stress • Satisfaction

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Copyright © 2004 by The Gerontological Society of America.