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Investigating burnout in nursing home nurses

With a worldwide shortage of nurses and a large proportion of dementia sufferers based in nursing homes, this project evaluated burnout among nurses battling high workloads.

Nurse burnout primary image

Researchers

  • Catharine Jenkins
  • Analisa Smythe 
  • Jan Oyebode
  • Pete Bentham
  • Jane Dyer
  • Magda Galant-Miecznikowska

Research background

Around a third of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK are cared for in nursing homes. There is a shortage of nurses worldwide and nursing home nursing is often perceived as low status and unrewarding. Staff shortages and lack of investment mean that life is often difficult for nursing home residents and stressful for the nurses who care for them with unresolved work stress having the potential to lead to burnout.

Burnout is associated with high workloads, poor standards of care and staff turnover, which is harmful for people with dementia who respond best to staff who know them well and who take a positive person-centred approach. Training can empower nurses with the skills required for working in challenging environments and can enable staff to value and relate more effectively to residents.

This project was fine-tuned to become a dual element training intervention for nurses working in nursing homes caring for people with dementia. The academics designed and evaluated the intervention, which involved classroom training together with hands-on practical training in the nurses’ workplaces.

Research aims

The study was designed evaluate the impact of training and supervision on burnout and related outcomes. The aim was to find out if classroom-based training in person-centred dementia care together with hands-on ‘working alongside’ and clinical supervision were effective in increasing nurses’ understanding of high quality nursing care, embedding changes in practice and reducing burnout.

How has the research been carried out?

Focus groups were used to inform development of the training programme, then one to one interviews to explore participants’ experiences of the training. Data was analysed using template analysis.

Research outcomes

The training and supervision appeared to reverse or break through some of the conditions that led to burnout. The nurses reported the intervention had enhanced their confidence and reduced isolation. It also appeared that the training and supervision created the beginnings of change in individual practices with the nurses seemingly more likely to adopt a person-centred approach to delivering dementia care.

Both the skills-based aspect of the training and the supervision appeared to assist the nurses in applying what they had learnt in the classroom. Therefore it seemed that the training and supervision had the effect of starting to reverse the vicious circle associated with development of burnout, by providing the nurses with strategies to cut through their sense of isolation and powerlessness, and to deal more effectively with the pressures of work.

Funder: Burdett Trust for Nursing

Funding: £197,048