It's frustrating! Managing emotional dissonance in aged care work

Debra King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Performing paid care work requires workers to simultaneously negotiate care and waged relationships. Mediating contradictions between the two often causes workers to experience frustration, a form of emotional dissonance. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 100 workers in Australian aged care organisations, this research identifies aspects of the work environment that enable care workers to successfully juggle or synthesise the emotional demands of their work. The research demonstrates that employers have an important role in alleviating frustration, and can do this by creating work environments which: give care workers relative autonomy; allow care workers to construct themselves as professional carers providing quality care; provide workers with support to manage their emotions and develop emotional resilience; and promote client recognition of workers' roles. Providing such work environments has the potential to not only alleviate workers' frustration, but also to increase job satisfaction and retain workers in aged care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-70
Number of pages20
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Aged care
  • Care management
  • Direct care workers
  • Emotion management
  • Emotional labour


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