Grief and Loss During Care Transitions: Experiences of Direct Care Workers

Stephanie P. Wladkowski, Nancy Kusmaul, Abigail Latimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Direct Care Workers (DCW) provide both personal care to patients and emotional support to patients and caregivers in hospice and palliative care. DCWs often develop close ties and are then expected to work with new clients immediately following a care transition, with little or no time to grieve. A qualitative pilot study (n = 24) was conducted to explore the experience of DCWs during care transitions. Data was collected via focus groups and individual interviews. Thematic analysis was used. Results suggest DCWs managed their experiences (n = 19), by anticipating and accepting grief and loss (n = 21), employing personal coping strategies (n = 19), and saying good-bye (n = 15). Relational factors impacted the experience of care transitions (n = 22), including building and maintaining the relationship (n = 14), and the strength of perceived connections (n = 15). Increased organizational support and training to help address grief and loss will better support DCWs and the direct care workforce.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOmega (United States)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was partially funded by Eastern Michigan University Faculty Research Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • care transitions
  • direct care workers
  • grief
  • home health
  • low wage workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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