Multidisciplinary perceptions of the role of nurses and healthcare assistants in rehabilitation of older adults in acute health care


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Abstract

AimThis paper describes the perceptions of nurses, healthcare assistants, doctors and therapists of rehabilitation and the role of nurses and healthcare assistants on an acute older adults ward in a London teaching hospital.BackgroundThe role perception, education and training and attitudes towards the older adults have been identified as barriers that have an impact upon the nurses' role within rehabilitation. However, little is known about the role of nurses and healthcare assistants in rehabilitation of older adults in acute health care.DesignAction research study.MethodTwenty-four semi-structured interviews were conducted and audio recorded about healthcare professionals' understanding of rehabilitation, the type of skills needed and their perceptions of the role of nurses and healthcare assistants in rehabilitation. The interview transcripts were analysed using the thematic content analysis.ResultsThe findings suggest that the therapists relied on nurses and healthcare assistants for therapy carry-over. Healthcare assistants were perceived as the professional group who could deliver therapy carry-over. There was an evidence of role hierarchy as healthcare assistants perceived that they were not actively involved in decision-making or discharge planning.ConclusionThis paper suggests that healthcare assistants and nurses are viewed as the professional group best placed to deliver therapy carry-over. However, whilst there is an acknowledgement of their role, there remains a reluctance to acknowledge healthcare assistants as a professional group and to involve them within decision-making and discharge planningRelevance to clinical practiceEmployers must be seen to advocate, support and implement education and training programs for healthcare assistants. However, whilst nurses and healthcare assistants have an integral role in rehabilitation, there needs to be more research into the how they are supported by therapy professionals.

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