• agitation;
  • dementia;
  • nursing development unit

This participatory action research study is the first formal research study undertaken by nurses in a nursing development unit. The study emerged as the result of nurses brainstorming issues that they perceived to be problematic in their nursing practice and their unit environment. The nurses of the psycho-geriatric nursing development unit, Wallsend Aged Care Facility, New South Wales, Australia identified that the management of agitated behaviour manifested by their severely demented clients was a major challenge in their practice. As a result, a pilot participatory action research study was designed to measure how agitation manifested, to measure the severity of agitation and to identify current nursing practices used to manage it and their outcome. Results of the study demonstrated that nurse actions triggered the majority of most highly rated episodes of agitated behaviour in this group of elderly residents, and that the majority of these nurse actions related to those involved in carrying out activities of daily living for the residents.