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EMERGENT HEALTH-CARE OCCUPATIONS & QUALITY OF LIFE: A STUDY OF THE USA, SPAIN & ITALY

Final Report Summary - EHCO & QOL (EMERGENT HEALTH-CARE OCCUPATIONS & QUALITY OF LIFE: A STUDY OF THE USA, SPAIN & ITALY)

This project focuses on the structuring of emergent occupational and organizational forms in direct care work. A growing interest in Long Term Care (LTC) services exists among policymakers and service providers(European Commission Ageing Reports, 2008 & 2012; OECD, 2011a). Present demographic projections and concerns about financial constraints call attention to this sector’s challenges, some of which relate to its workforce characteristics and potential workforce shortages driven by a supposed low attractiveness of LTC related occupations. This, in turn, can affect negatively the quality and the cost of services. In addition, these challenges require healthcare delivery to evolve, relying on innovative technologies, in order to improve health outcomes, economic efficiency, and patient experiences. Therefore, providing high-quality, effective, and customer-centered care is a broad social issue filled with opportunities for organizations in both the profit and non-profit arenas.

The research contributes toward understanding how care-related occupations, technologies, and organizations co-evolve and are being structured across most affected economies, i.e. the European Union and the USA. Identifying synergies in similarities as well as differences in the understanding of care giving due to variations in care ecosystems will help cross-learn from various countries. Outcomes of this research include:

(a) An encompassing approach to quality of life (QOL), departing from the multiple conceptualizations currently used in different fields;
(b) An understanding of caregivers’ job identities (based on qualitative data) with the goal to enhance employees’ ability to effectively deliver quality care, and an examination of the evolution of job stability in the health and LTC sectors in Europe from 1992 to 2011 (based on empirical analyses of longitudinal data from Eurostat’s Labor Force Survey); and
(c) A theoretical framework supported by case-based evidence to explore technological innovation and organizational cross-sector collaboration patterns within the care ecosystem.

This project advances the states of the art by: developing theory for research on care occupations, understanding the dynamics of direct care organizations which are currently structuring their provision of services to elderly citizens, and informing the development of policies on human capital for these sectors of the economy where jobs will continue to grow very strongly in the foreseeable future, while elevating the skill profiles and career prospects of the care workforce.

From the fellow’s career development viewpoint, the IRG has been instrumental to her establishing a research career back in Spain and developing a strong research group. In the last two years, she has been appointed Associate Dean for Research at IESE Business School, with a mandate to strengthening the institution’s research culture and mentor junior faculty. As research director of the school, she has also been appointed member of the Executive Committee. This post built on the prior period’s progress, when the fellow was hired permanently by IESE as a full professor and accredited by the Spanish competent agency (ANECA) as chaired professor in the public university system. IRG funding has also helped strengthen links among institutions with which the fellow works within Spain, across Europe and the USA, as shown by the research output joint contributions.