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Advancing knowledge on practice change: linking facilitation to the senses framework


Correspondence: Julie Cooper, Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, City University London, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK. Telephone: 44 (0) 20 7040 5977.



Aims and objectives

To explore the facilitating factors that enabled staff on a rehabilitation ward for older people engage in change activities.


The importance of facilitation in practice change is widely acknowledged; however, little nursing research has taken place in relation to its nature. Following identification in the early phases of an action research study that learned helplessness states and the use of socially structured defence techniques were preventing staff on a rehabilitation ward for older people from engaging in practice development, some change was achieved. What facilitated this to take place needed to be explored.


An action research approach was used.


Data gained from 13 in-depth interviews with staff and managers together with three years of researcher field notes were analysed using thematic analysis.


The continuous presence and neutrality of the researcher who worked together with staff on their issues of concern using a flexible ward-based approach, combined with giving staff the opportunity to explore what it was like for them working in this area, were considered key in helping staff to engage with change.


Analysis of findings suggests that the senses framework presents a theoretical approach to facilitation that can help staff move out of learned helplessness states and reduce the need for the use of socially structured defence techniques.

Relevance to clinical practice

This study identifies a facilitation approach that enabled staff to engage with practice change. Although carried out in the UK, its findings have wider relevance through the application of a theoretical perspective for practice change facilitation that has not before been considered in this literature, and which is likely to be of interest to those involved in practice change internationally.

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