Background: Occupational and resident characteristics affect levels of staff stress and satisfaction in nursing homes, and levels of staff turnover are high. Working with more cognitively impaired residents, especially on day shift, is associated with high levels of stress in nursing home staff. Workload is highly predictive of the experience of burden and job pressure, while these outcomes vary according to whether staff work full- or part-time.
Aims: To investigate the attitudes of nursing home staff towards residents, strain related to dementia care and satisfaction with work and their associations with demographic, occupational and behavioural disturbance in the home.
Methods: A cross-sectional design was adopted, using a self-completion questionnaire survey of 253 nursing home staff from 12 nursing homes in Sydney's eastern suburbs, and behavioural assessment of all 647 residents from 11 of the 12 homes. Staff attitudes and strain were measured using the Swedish Strain in Nursing Care Assessment Scale and satisfaction using the Swedish Satisfaction with Nursing Care and Work Assessment Scale.
Results: Staff members' five most prevalent perceptions of residents with dementia were that they are anxious, have little control over their difficult behaviour, are unpredictable, lonely and frightened/vulnerable. The five attributes staff found most difficult to cope with were being aggressive/hostile, having little control over their difficult behaviour, being stubborn/resistive, deliberately difficult, and unpredictable. Although 91% of staff reported that they were happy in their job, a quarter reported that residents provided no job satisfaction. The five satisfaction statements most agreed with were "The patients/residents at work nearly always receive good care", "It is important to try and enter into the way patients experience what happens to them", "Relatives are given enough information about care and treatment", "I enjoy my current work situation" and "Our work organisation is good". There were significant differences between homes in levels of strain related to dementia care that were not accounted for by the level of behavioural disturbance.
Conclusions: Nursing home staff tended to perceive residents in more negative than positive ways. Staff were generally satisfied with their work. Factors other than resident behavioural disturbance are important influences in nursing staff strain.