Work 4.0 Care
The impact of mechanisation and digitalisation measures on nursing and care workers
There is an acute shortage of staff in care and nursing for the elderly. Depending on the scenario, the need for nursing staff (additional need and replacement need) is estimated at around 73,000 - 76,000 additional persons needed (incl. hospitals) for Austria by 2030, according to a study by the Ministry of Social Affairs. At the same time, the workload in care is very high, so that according to an evaluation of the Work Climate Index, only 25% of the nursing and care workers in long-term care can imagine doing their job until retirement. A number of proposals to increase the number of employees in long-term care have already been made; among other things, the report on the long-term care demand forecast of the Ministry of Social Affairs also mentions the "in-depth examination of the possibilities of digitalisation to support the nursing and care staff". This is where the present study proposal comes in.
Within the framework of the project "Work 4.0 Care" of the Arbeiterkammer of Lower Austria, the impact of selected technical and digital aids on care and nursing staff in different settings of long-term care (inpatient/partial inpatient/mobile) will be surveyed by means of qualitative interviews and focus groups. Case studies of organisations that play a pioneering role in the field of technology and digitalisation will be examined. The areas of application of technical and digital aids are diverse: In direct body-related care, digital and technical aids support, for example, wound care, mobilisation and medication administration. In care, they can support communication with clients as well as the organisation of daily life. In many organisations, digital aids are also used in care documentation, but also in the area of monitoring. In addition to direct care and support, digitalisation is also indispensable in the area of business management and administration.
The increased use of technical and digital tools is changing the working conditions and the quality of service provision in nursing and care (Bovenschulte et al., 2021). On the one hand, these changes can be perceived by nursing and care workers as a relief, but on the other hand, new burdens can arise. The effects are systematically presented on a web-based platform and thus made publicly accessible. The platform also offers the possibility for nursing and care workers to report back on their own experiences. Making the effects of technical and digital aids on workers visible is an important prerequisite for the future design of nursing and care professions.