A multifaceted construct called occupational communion (OC), defined as a sense of belonging based on social interaction at work, has been proposed to understand why care workers were positively engaged in their jobs over time, even though they were very demanding. Rich qualitative data on the multiple aspects of OC in care work exist, but a valid measure does not.
We applied a mixed-method systematic scale development process to measure OC. Aged and dementia care workers in Australia (76%) and other countries participated in a focus group and online surveys (N = 2,451). We also used interview data from our prior study. The study involved 3 components: (1) scale development and design; (2) pilot test validation with exploratory factor analysis; and (3) confirmatory validation via confirmatory factor analysis. The third component assessed convergent and discriminant validity using measures of communion, self-efficacy, work engagement, job and life satisfaction, intention to leave, positive and negative affect, and mood.
We developed a 28-item Occupational Communion Scale (OCS) with good internal consistency (composite reliability = 0.75–0.91) across 6 factors: (1) “natural” carer, (2) psychological need to care, (3) connection with clients, (4) connection with coworkers, (5) desire for more connection, and (6) blurred boundaries. All validity measures correlated with OC and work engagement, self-efficacy, and positive affect showed the strongest association.
The OCS can be used to design and evaluate interventions addressing aged care workforce engagement, social connections and well-being, and care outcomes.