Aim of the study. This study sought to explore systematically the role of Registered Nurses working in rehabilitation in Australia.
Background. Rehabilitation has been identified as an important aspect of health care. However, evidence of a comprehensive investigation of the nurses' role in rehabilitation cannot be found. From Australia, in particular, no research has been published in this area.
Methods. This study used a qualitative approach by engaging 13 nurses in one-to-one interviews and a further 21 in focus group discussions. Thematic analysis was conducted on the interview and focus group data.
Findings. Seven domains of practice were identified and are suggested as a framework for the specialty practice of rehabilitation nursing. They capture the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of rehabilitation nursing practice. Central to this practice is a rehabilitative approach to patient care, teaching and coaching, and continual assessment. The nurses explained in detail how these aspects of rehabilitation nursing differentiate their practice from that of their acute care colleagues.
Conclusion. The rehabilitative approach is one of a variety of approaches to nursing care, but should not be seen as the exclusive domain of rehabilitation nurses. Rehabilitation belongs in every nurse's toolkit.