Being flexible and tuning in: professional caregivers' reflections on management of violent behaviour in nursing homes


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Abstract

Aims and objectivesThis qualitative, descriptive study aimed to illuminate professional caregivers' reflections on managing residents' violent behaviour in nursing homes.BackgroundViolence towards caregivers in the care of older people is a challenge attracting increasing attention in nursing research. However, studies that focus on the approaches caregivers in nursing homes resort to and how they manage everyday care situations involving threats and violent situations are relatively few.MethodsThe study was based on 41 interviews in which the caregivers reflected on their own courses of action in violent situations. The interviews were subjected to qualitative content analysis.ResultsThis study showed that caregivers were flexible and in tune with the resident by averting and defusing threatening and violent situations. The caregivers tried to give care in line with the residents' condition, control their own spontaneous reactions and interpret the residents' reactions as communicative signs indicating how they should interact with the resident in the situation. As a last resort, when previous approaches had been unsuccessful, the caregivers took a firm stand, confronted the resident and the violent behaviour more directly, but with respect and with the residents' best interests in mind.ConclusionsThese findings illuminate how caregivers successfully can manage threatening and violent behavior in nursing homes by being flexible and tuning in with the resident but also by taking a firm stand with the residents' best interests in mind. To be flexible and in tune with residents, it is important to know the residents' personal histories. This may mean involving stakeholders, such as family members and friends, in the care of residents with violent behaviour.Implications for practiceWe believe that it is important to involve stakeholders in the care of threatening and violent residents in nursing homes as it is important to get information on the residents' personal history. However, there are risks when interpreting residents' behaviour in light of their personal histories as relatives experiences may be subjective and the information may give the caregivers preconceived ideas about the resident.

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