Nursing Agencies' Study: Collecting Data

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Since the study includes various groups of people (home nurses, nursing agencies and clients) who are to be consulted in order to collect the data required to fulfil the study objectives, it was suggested by the research supervisor to try looking at one group at a time. So, it was decided to first contact the nursing agencies who recruit and supply the home nurses. Three interview schedules (one for each group) were prepared for the data collection and these were finalized after consultation with the research supervisor. The schedules were also translated into Malayalam, the regional language for better comprehension and ease of the respondents. In the field work which began in the second week of May 2018 the researcher could meet some people from the district of Ernakulam and get the required details from them. In the month of June and July, visits were made to the district of Alappuzha and data were collected from a few home nurses.

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Till 10th July, 2018 the researcher continued to collect data and could manage to interview the owners/ agency members of six agencies and thirty four home nurses. On some occasions, the home nurses were interviewed in the agency office and in other cases, they were interviewed either in their own homes or at the client’s home where they currently work. A few nursing agencies in the district of Kollam were also informed about the study and the contact details of some home nurses were obtained from them. Depending on the convenience and availability of these people, they will be interviewed in the coming semester (from August onwards). While the researcher was in the field collecting data, it was advised by the supervisor to cross-check the data being collected with the tentative characterization so that data is obtained for the content being planned for each chapter.

Keeping this in view, the study objectives were revisited on the basis of the data collected until now. The objectives are as follows:

  • To analyze the socio-economic and educational background of the home nurses and to look into their prior work experiences
  • To examine the training imparted to the nurses by the nursing agencies, understand their recruitment strategies and inquire about the turnover of the nurses
  • To understand the reasons for employing the home nurses and the selection criteria taken into account as provided by the patients’ families, including the referrals adopted with regard to employing them
  • To identify the various household tasks performed by the nurses and to find out the task segregation that exists between the formal and informal caregivers (primary kin)
  • To assess the nature of relationships of the nurse-employer family as well as that of the nurse- patient and understand the difficulties faced by the nurses due to being in the job.

Based on the data collected so far, it could be understood that a majority of home nurses belong to economically backward sections and the majority hails from scheduled castes and backward Christian groups. While a large proportion of people have taken up the job due to financial reasons, a few have also mentioned the service ethic (besides the economic factor) that has drawn them into the job. Not even a single home nurse from the Muslim community has been identified hitherto. Out of the people who have been interviewed, only a few have received school-based education beyond class 10th.

Most of the home nurses (especially those who are over 40 yrs of age) have not studied after class 8th. Many have been working as home nurses for more than 5 years and there are people who have more than 15 years of experience in the field. Prior to entering this job, most of them were employed in factories and shops besides those who worked as daily wage labourers. Better pay than the previous job has been the major pull factor. Other reasons for getting into this job included the health issues that forced them to discontinue from the previous job, dissatisfaction with the work conditions of the previous job etc.

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