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Enjoying the front-line of dementia care: an integrative analysis of what care home staff report makes them happy at work

Jill Manthorpe (Professor, based at Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London, London, UK)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 2 December 2014




High turnover of staff in the long-term dementia care sector contributes to poor quality care and lack of continuity of care in the UK and many other countries. The purpose of this paper is to explore the research evidence on what care assistants report they enjoy when working in front-line dementia care jobs in long-term care facilities.


An integrative analysis was used to study research findings focusing on the front-line workforce in care homes. The literature review sought to capture key findings, including overviews of research, from studies from 1990 to mid-2014 that have considered the positive experiences of front-line care home staff working with people with dementia.


There is a great deal of research investigating care home staff's job satisfaction. Much of this highlights the importance of personal, social and managerial relationships. Common themes continue to be reported. There is potential for work on improving care assistant experiences in care homes but also a need to address long-standing inequities affecting the care home sector.

Research limitations/implications

Some studies are not precise about which staff groups they are investigating in studies about care homes and many concentrate on the problems staff report. Measures of job satisfaction vary. When exploring dementia-related care not all studies are clear if care home residents have dementia or not.

Practical implications

Many studies have investigated the views of care assistants working with people with dementia in care homes that address happiness in their work, often reported as job or work satisfaction, and these should be consulted when developing dementia services or managing care homes. As with other parts of the social care workforce, employers and managers need to be aware of effective and acceptable workforce reforms and ways to reduce turnover.


This review suggests the value of investigating positive aspects of care work with people with dementia living in care homes. Greater attention could be paid to job satisfaction in social care more widely.



The author is grateful to Lawrence Odelola for his help with the initial parts of this review.

This study was conducted as part of the work of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit for the Department of Health Policy Research Programme. The views are those of the author's alone and should not necessarily be seen as those of the Department of Health.


Manthorpe, J. (2014), "Enjoying the front-line of dementia care: an integrative analysis of what care home staff report makes them happy at work", Working with Older People, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 167-175.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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