The emergent relevance of care staff decision-making and situation awareness to mobility care in nursing homes: an ethnographic study

Authors

  • Janice Taylor BAppSc MGeron CertIVTAA,

    HDR Candidate, Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Notting Hill, Victoria, Australia
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  • Jane Sims MSc PhD,

    Senior Research Fellow
    1. Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Notting Hill, Victoria, Australia
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  • Terry P. Haines BPhysiotherapy PhD GCert

    Health Economics Director of Research
    1. Allied Health Research Unit, Kingston Centre, Southern Health, Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia
    2. Southern Physiotherapy Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Abstract

Aim

To explore mobility care as provided by care staff in nursing homes.

Background

Care staff regularly assist residents with their mobility. Nurses are increasingly reliant on such staff to provide safe and quality mobility care. However, the nature of care staff decision-making when providing assistance has not been fully addressed in the literature.

Design

A focused ethnography.

Method

The study was conducted in four nursing homes in Melbourne, Australia. Non-participant observations of residents and staff in 2011. Focus groups with 18 nurses, care and lifestyle staff were conducted at three facilities in 2012. Thematic analysis was employed for focus groups and content analysis for observation data. Cognitive Continuum Theory and the notion of ‘situation awareness’ assisted data interpretation.

Findings

Decision-making during mobility care emerged as a major theme. Using Cognitive Continuum Theory as a guide, nursing home staff's decision-making was described as ranging from system-aided, through resident- and peer-aided, to reflective and intuitive. Staff seemed aware of the need for resident-aided decision-making consistent with person-centred care. Habitual mobility care based on shared mental models occurred. It was noted that levels of situation awareness may vary among staff.

Conclusion

Care staff may benefit from support via collaborative and reflective practice to develop decision-making skills, situation awareness and person-centred mobility care. Further research is required to explore the connection between staff's skills in mobility care and their decision-making competence as well as how these factors link to quality mobility care.

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