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Home care aides are a rapidly growing, non-standard workforce who face numerous health risks and stressors on the job. While research shows that aides receive limited support from their agency employers, few studies have explored the wider range of support that aides use when navigating work stress and considered the implications of these arrangements. To investigate this question, we conducted 47 in-depth interviews with 29 home care aides in New York City, focused specifically on aides’ use of support after client death. Theories of work stress, the social ecological framework, and feminist theories of care informed our research. Our analysis demonstrates aides’ extensive reliance on personal sources of support and explores the challenges this can create in their lives and work, and, potentially, for their communities. We also document aides’ efforts to cultivate support stemming from their home-based work environments. Home care aides’ work stress thus emerges as both an occupational health and a community health issue. While employers should carry responsibility for preventing and mitigating work stress, moving toward health equity for marginalized careworkers requires investing in policy-level and community-level supports to bolster employer efforts, particularly as the home care industry becomes increasingly fragmented and non-standard.


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