The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 467–479 | Cite as

Eldercare Volunteers and Employees: Predicting Caregiver Experiences from Service Motives and Sense of Community

  • Joseph R. Ferrari
  • Theresa Luhrs
  • Victoria Lyman
Original Paper


Volunteers (n = 52) and eldercare employees (n = 160) completed measures of personal motives, sense of community, and satisfaction and stress from assisting the elderly. Caregiver satisfaction was best predicted for volunteers by feelings of reciprocal responsibility to peers. For employees, satisfaction was predicted by strong motives reflecting one’s personal values, heightening self-esteem, gaining an understanding of the elderly, and a need to socialize with others. Caregiver stress for volunteers was predicted by motives of low self-esteem, high needs for protection from similar illness, and a desire toward enhancing one’s personal career goals. For employees, stress was predicted by low levels of reciprocal responsibility and a desire for protection. Results suggest that eldercare satisfaction and stress are predicted by different variables for volunteer and employees requiring different program development for recruitment and retention. Editors’ Strategic Implications: The findings have implications for the way elder care administrators prevent worker and volunteer turnover and thus promote client welfare. Measures of personal motivation and community connection may be relevant to other prevention settings as well.


Volunteers Eldercare employees Caregiver experiences Service motives Sense of community 



This project was funded in part by a DePaul “Competitive Research Council” Award, with ground transportation and supplies by Southern Cross Care, Inc. (Tas), and housing by the University of Tasmania “Visiting Scholar Program” provided to the second author in support of a research leave. Gratitude is expressed to Richard Sadek, Peter Patmore, the Board of Trustees, and staff and volunteers at SCC (Tas). Special thanks is expressed to Garry Askey-Doran, who facilitated this project, assisted in the data collection process, and provided guidance, support, and above all friendship, making this project possible and a pleasure.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph R. Ferrari
    • 1
  • Theresa Luhrs
    • 1
  • Victoria Lyman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA

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