• attitudes;
  • clinical decision-making;
  • long-term care facilities;
  • older people;
  • physical activity;
  • physical restraint

Aims and objectives.  To understand nurses’ attitudes towards physical activity care for older people in long-term care facilities.

Background.  In long-term care facilities, a common approach to daily physical activity is based on the identifiable portions of daily life during which the activity occurs. However, older people are at risk of falling when they perform daily physical activities. Nurses are the first-line caregivers. What nurses’ think and do regarding older people’s participation in daily physical activities in long-term care facilities is very important in terms of the clinical decision-making regarding older people’s physical activity care.

Design.  An exploratory qualitative design.

Methods.  Twenty nurses with more than three years of clinical experience from 13 long-term care facilities located in northern Taiwan were sampled purposively. Data were collected though semi-structured interviews. The constant comparative data analysis method was used throughout the research.

Results.  Five themes emerged from the data analysis: ‘recognising the importance of participation in daily physical activity’, ‘encouraging participation in physical activity’, ‘respecting the autonomy of the residents regarding participation in physical activity’, ‘preventing falls’ and ‘facing a dilemma’.

Conclusions.  This study identifies that there is a conflict between the nurses’ perceptions of the residents’ daily physical activities, the risk of falls and encouraging greater independence. The majority of staff employed in long-term care facilities is nursing personnel, and it is these nurses who have the most contact with the residents. It is therefore believed that nurses can make the greatest difference to the residents’ lives and support the quality of care if they can resolve this conflict.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results suggest the need to increase the nurses’ knowledge base regarding the benefits of physical activity and also highlight the potentially adverse effect of restraint usage by nurses.