Aim The aim of the study was to explore registered nurses’ experiences in long-term aged care in light of the political reform of aged care services in Australia.
Background In Australia, the aged care industry has undergone a lengthy period of political and structural reform. Despite reviews into various aspects of these reforms, there has been little consideration of the effect these are having on the practice experiences and retention of nursing staff in long-term care.
Methods In this critical hermeneutic study, 14 nurses from long-term care facilities in Australia were interviewed about their experiences during the reform period.
Results The data revealed a sense of tension and conflict between nurses’ traditional values, roles and responsibilities and those supported by the reforms. Nurses struggled to renegotiate both their practice roles and values as the reforms were implemented and the system evolved. Nursing management support was an important aspect in mediating the effect of reforms on nursing staff.
Conclusion This research highlights both the tensions experienced by nurses in long-term aged care in Australia and the need to renegotiate nursing roles, responsibilities and values within an evolving care system. This research supports a role for sensitive and proactive nursing management during periods of industry reform as a retention strategy for qualified nursing personnel.