Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Gerontology Institute

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Ball, PhD - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Jaye Atkinson, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Frank Whittington, PhD


Within Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), high staff turnover and the foreseeable future shortage in the workforce population have created a growing urgency to increase the retention of workers in this field. This study examines the experiences of care workers in the dementia care units (DCUs) of ALFs. The specific aims are to learn: 1) what these workers find frustrating and satisfying about their job; and 2) what are the individual-level (e.g., race, education, employment history) and facility-level (e.g., size of unit, workload) factors that affect how they feel about their job. We used qualitative data from interviews with 45 staff and observations gathered in DCUs in five ALFs that varied in size, location, and race of staff. Findings show that workers' sources of dissatisfaction included heavy workloads, lack of teamwork, and residents' racist remarks and other problem behaviors. Positive relationships with residents were a primary source of satisfaction.