Levels of satisfaction and wellbeing among NHS staff have a direct impact on patients’ experiences of healthcare, according to a major study by leading UK nurse researchers.
Investing in staff wellbeing is, therefore, not only important for the nursing workforce but also for quality of care overall, they argue.
The three year study was carried out by the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London and Southampton University and aimed to determine which particular staff attitudes and behaviours impacted on patient experiences.
It involved over 200 hours of direct care observation at four trusts – two acute and two in the community – as well as hundreds of interviews and surveys of patients, frontline staff and senior managers.
Glenn Robert, healthcare quality and innovation chair at the NNRU, said the study showed interpersonal relationships with staff were “critical to patient experience”, but the level of such connections was “often poor”.
“Patients want staff to show genuine interest in them as people; to be non-judgemental and competent; continuity of staff enhances levels of trust and the confidence felt by patients that their care needs are fully understood,” he said.
But Professor Robert added: “Staff often reported not being able to deliver the care they wanted to, citing insufficient staffing levels and competing demands on their time as preventing them from delivering the high quality care they wished to give”.
NNRU director and lead study author Jill Maben said the findings were “significant” for proving the importance of staff wellbeing, while acknowledging they might seem obvious to many nurses.
“While it may appear self-evident that patients’ experiences and the quality of health care they receive are influenced by the experiences of the staff providing that care, there was limited UK research that explored this link,” she said.
“This study strongly suggests that patient experiences are better when staff feel they have a good working environment, support from co-workers and their manager and low emotional exhaustion.”
Professor Maben added that the study highlighted the “importance of the team” and the “critical role” of the team leader role in “supporting and nurturing staff and in building a strong climate for patient care”.
- NNRU report: Patients’ experiences of care and the influence of staff motivation, affect and wellbeing