A Culture of Caring: The Intersection of Hospital Housekeeping Staff and Person-Centered Care
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A Culture of Caring: The Intersection of Hospital Housekeeping Staff and Person-Centered Care


This qualitative descriptive study explores the experiences and perceptions of hospital housekeeping staff, how they interact with patients, and how they perceive their impact on patient care. There is increasing recognition of hospital housekeeping staff as frontline workers. There are anecdotal reports that detail housekeeping staff giving mental, emotional, and spiritual support to patients, yet little is known about this phenomenon. A total of eight housekeeping staff participated in semi-structured interviews ranging from 30–60 minutes. Participants ranged from 40 to 62 years old, were from diverse cultural backgrounds, and had worked at the participating hospital from 4 months to 20 years. Transcribed interviews were evaluated using a process of thematic analysis and researcher triangulation, while bracketing, reflective journaling, and member-checking were used to enhance validity. The themes that emerged revealed a widespread culture of caring among housekeeping staff where they build unique, meaningful connections and trust with patients. Recognizing their role as unique, they often act as a bridge between patients and the rest of the healthcare team and provide a listening ear to patients and their families. Witnessing the suffering of patients is viewed as a part of their job, and they are impacted in similar ways as other healthcare staff. The care they give to patients is distinct and woven into their duties of cleaning. Participants were unanimous in describing the importance of cleanliness but believed that they have a greater impact on patient wellbeing than is recognized. Further research is needed to understand these phenomena from the patients’ perspective. Greater recognition is necessary for these members of the health care team, as are policies giving them equitable access to caregiver resources within the health system.

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