‘Who's actually gonna read this?’ An evaluation of staff experiences of the value of information contained in written care plans in supporting care in three different dementia care settings

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Accessible summary

What is known on the subject?

What this paper adds to existing knowledge?

What are the implications for practice?


Reports of increased healthcare bureaucracy and concerns over care plan quality have emerged from research and surveys into staff and service user experiences. Little is known of mental health staff perspectives on the value of written care plans in supporting dementia care.


To investigate the experiences and views of staff in relation to care planning in dementia services in one National Health Service (NHS) provider Trust in England.


Grounded Theory methodology was used. A purposive sample of 11 multidisciplinary staff were interviewed across three sites in one NHS Trust. Interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed using the constant comparative method.


Five themes were identified and are explored in detail below: (1) Repetition; (2) the impact of electronic records on practice; (3) ambivalence about the value of paperwork; (4) time conflicts; and (5) alternative sources of information to plan care.


Participants perceived that written care plans did not help staff with good practice in planning care or to support dementia care generally. Staff were frustrated by repetitive documentation, inflexible electronic records and conflicting demands on their time.

Implications for practice:

Frontline staff should be involved in designing new information systems including care plans.

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