Gerontological rehabilitation nursing of older patients in acute health centre hospitals: nursing views


  • Satu Elo PhD, RN,

  • Reetta Saarnio PhD, RN,

  • Pirkko Routasalo PhD, RN,

  • Arja Isola PhD, RN

Reeta Saarnio
Faculty of Medicine
Institute of Health Sciences
Nursing Science
University of Oulu
PO Box 5000
Oulu 90014
Telephone: +358 8 5375602


elo s., saarnio r., routasalo p. & Isola a. (2012) Gerontological rehabilitation nursing of older patients in acute health centre hospitals: nursing views. International Journal of Older People Nursing7, 46–56
doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2011.00277.x

Aim.  The aim was to describe gerontological rehabilitation nursing in an acute hospital setting from nursing staff’s points of view.

Background.  In the model of gerontological rehabilitation nursing, older people are active operators in their own rehabilitation process. It is the task of nursing staff, together with the patient, their relatives and a multiprofessional team, to support the patient’s commitment to the rehabilitation goal.

Methods.  In this study, a cross-sectional design was used. Registered Nurses (RNs) and Practical Nurses (PNs) (n = 367) from four different hospitals responded to the questionnaire. Data analysis was carried out with spss using descriptive statistics.

Results.  The majority of nursing staff (66%) considered that older rehabilitation patients thought that rehabilitation was activity undertaken by physiotherapists aimed at improving patients’ functional abilities. The wards in question have well-functioning rehabilitation teams. The rehabilitation of older patients is a goal-oriented activity. Despite this, not everyone was aware of the goals. Essential patient care and promotion of rehabilitation were well attended to by nurses. Emotional support was emphasised in maintaining the motivation of older people.

Conclusions.  Because RNs and PNs, unlike other professionals, see older rehabilitation patients 24 hours a day and are able to assess their possibilities of coping independently with essential tasks, nursing staff could have an active role in the rehabilitation team. The education of nursing staff must focus on boosting self-esteem and teaching independent decision-making in promoting the rehabilitation of older persons and the assessment of their progress.

Implications for practice.  Nurse managers must arrange further education for nurses in promoting the rehabilitation of older persons. Nurse managers must also arrange time for the multiprofessional team to discuss and agree joint rehabilitation goals.