Background. In a resident-oriented care model the assignment of patients to primary nurses takes place. These primary nurses are responsible for the total nursing care of their patients and make use of the nursing process. According to job demand-control models, these enlarged and enriched jobs can be described in terms of autonomy, job demands and social support, and the presence of these work characteristics has a positive influence on workers’ psychological and behavioural outcomes.
Aims. This paper reports a study to investigate the extent to which the various features of resident-oriented care were implemented and its effects nurses’ on work characteristics and on psychological and behavioural outcomes in three Dutch nursing homes.
Methods. In a quasi-experimental design, experimental and control groups were followed over 22 months, using a pretest and two post-tests with questionnaires, interviews and qualitative observations.
Results. The quantitative data showed significant increases in resident assignment, the two variables measuring the nursing process and, in the psycho-geriatric experimental group, on resident-oriented tasks. The qualitative data showed that a partly task-oriented division of labour was still used and that the planned delegation of coordination tasks to primary nurses was not fully achieved. Effects on work perceptions were limited. After implementation of the new system, the experimental group showed an increase in job autonomy.
Conclusions. The intervention appeared to be only partly successful. Most of the expected results regarding work characteristics and psychological and behavioural outcomes did not materialize. Theoretical and methodological reflections are presented in the light of these findings.