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University of Basel

High quality in Swiss nursing home care but high workload for staff too

The Institute of Nursing Science at the University of Basel has comprehensively examined the work and personnel situation in a representative sample of Swiss nursing homes. The Swiss Nursing Homes Human Resources Project (SHURP) surveyed 5,323 professional care workers in 163 nursing homes. The results showed high quality of nursing care and that staff enjoys their current job. However, the study also identified the high professional and physical demands nursing care staffs face as well as the difficulties in recruiting qualified nursing personnel.

29 October 2013

The quality of nursing care in Swiss nursing homes is very high, according to the SHURP study. This includes a positive work environment and participation for staff, as well as work autonomy and good cooperation between staff members and professional groups within the nursing homes. The majority of the participating nursing staff had a high level of professional commitment and reported enjoying their current job (86.9%). These positive evaluations are also reflected in the high quality of nursing care: Nursing home residents rarely suffer from adverse events, such as pressure ulcers (2.7%), urinary tract infections (5.1%), and weight loss (4.5%).

The challenge of dementia and lack of time

Despite the positive results in regard to the quality of care, the SHURP study also identified areas that are in need of action. The lack of personnel to get the job done (22.5%) and a high workload (15.8%) are among the most significant stress factors for the nursing staff. Even though more than half of the nursing home residents show signs of dementia, adequate care services such as special housing and specifically educated care workers are not always available.

Staff shortage and lack of time negatively affect the care for residents. Activities that involve the planning and documentation of nursing care are rationed and nurses often lack the time to inform themselves about the situation of the residents. A third of the surveyed careworkers say that they often had to keep their residents waiting and a fifth (21.9%) stated that they are, due to lack of time, unable to give emotional support to nursing home residents. Almost a fourth of the nursing staff sometimes lack the time to execute rehabilitative care that would be important to maintain the autonomy and the quality of life.

Heavy workloads and difficult recruitment of qualified care staff

Staff shortage induced stress as well as emotional and physical strains at the work place have direct consequences for the health of the nursing staff. The majority of participants reported either back pain (70.9%) or joint pain (50.9%). Furthermore, two thirds of the participants report a general lack of energy. Almost one out of eight nurses often express intentions to leave their job or giving up working in nursing homes altogether.

The SHURP study shows that the nursing homes are facing great challenges for their human resources management. Currently a third of the nursing staff is older than fifty years and will retire in the nearer future. This will further increase the already difficult recruitment situation for qualified care staff in most nursing homes (91.9%) and may increase competition and search for talents at the work market.


Further information

René Schwendimann, PhD, RN, University of Basel, Institute for Nursing Science, tel. +41 61 267 30 40, email: rene.schwendimann@unibas.ch

Further information
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