Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Gerontology Institute

First Advisor

Jennifer Craft Morgan

Second Advisor

Antonius Skipper

Third Advisor

Candace Kemp


Direct care workers (DCWs) face persistent challenges with low pay, few benefits, heavy workloads, and limited access to paid leave. COVID-19 have increased the precarity of the long-term care system and has left many direct care workers more vulnerable. With layered risks of systemic racism, COVID-related risks, and political turmoil on top of socio-economic challenges, direct care workers, older adults, and those with disabilities experience high risks to health and well-being. Using the socio-ecological framework, the aim of this exploratory study was two-fold; (1) examine DCWs understanding of trauma and how it affects their ability to provide care, and (2) understand the strategies and supports DCWs and organizations use to cope with trauma. Using semi-structured interviews with 25 certified nursing assistants, the findings demonstrate the impact of COVID-19, work stress, and systemic inefficiencies that negatively impact care work and examined strategies to support resilience-building and ultimately empowerment practices.


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Available for download on Wednesday, July 24, 2024