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Nurse-led study to investigate best ways to support newly-qualified staff


A nurse-led study in the West Midlands has received charity funding to research ways of boosting the recruitment and retention of nursing staff in settings for older people and mental health care.

The Burdett Trust for Nursing has awarded £127,832 to support the research and development of a model for supporting newly-qualified nurses in order to improve retention levels, both in the NHS and social care.

“There is a long-standing, global concern about retention rates in nursing”

Analisa Smythe

The project will seek to find ways of overcoming the feelings of isolation, low morale, extreme work pressure and lack of competence development that can impact on nurses early in their careers.

It will aim to address the problem of nurses leaving the profession by “researching, developing and evaluating a retention-orientated model of sustainable support for post-preceptorship nurses”, said those behind the study.

They said the research would be focused on nursing groups who are at high risk of leaving the profession such as those working in older patient care and mental health care.

However, it will also help develop models engagement that aim to improve morale and increase retention “across the board”, said the researchers.

The study will be undertaken at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with Birmingham City University, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and the University of Bradford.

Analisa Smythe, nurse and dementia project lead at Birmingham and Solihull, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant to help build a sustainable nursing workforce.

“There is a long-standing, global concern about retention rates in nursing within an NHS and care home environment,” she noted.

“Through previous research, we know that nurses who leave are influenced by a sense of isolation, low levels of morale, extreme pressures at work, lack of competence development and weak team cohesion,” she said.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Study to investigate how best to retain newly-qualifieds

Analisa Smythe

It is the second research grant that has been awarded by the charity to Ms Smythe, who is based at the National Centre for Mental Health in Birmingham, and her co-researcher Catharine Jenkins, senior nurse lecturer at Birmingham City University.

In 2013, the pair received funds to develop specialist training for dementia nurses who work in a care home setting, which also highlighted that newly qualified nurses experienced “burnout”, causing nearly one fifth of nurses to leave the profession within three years after qualifying.

Ms Smythe added: “This grant will help us to continue with our research and develop models of peer support, both on and off-line, that will aim to address the many causes of poor retention by building robust networks that will provide invaluable support to nurses throughout their career.”

The findings would help create a “person-centred approach in combination with solution-focused strategies” that will support nursing staff in a variety of settings, throughout their career, she noted.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Pay & Conditions. Simple.

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  • They used to attract them when they were lookafter on designated wards by a 'Geriatric' or 'MH' lead.....additional payment/inducement. But since they diluted the specialty into the main wards, where their special needs cannot be met, they removed the incentive.
    Since most wards now have a high proportion of elderly patients with specialist needs where a young patient under 60 is rarely seen, unless the nurse has an interest in the specialty, or had a favourable placement there, they won't be attracted to it. Orthopaedics, especially female wards always were troublesome staffing them. Of my 18 colleagues on qualifying, I was the only one who applied for the the 1 vacancy. Mixed wards saved the day for them.
    Even enthusiastic and approachable consultants are not enough. Few wards have time for fun these days.

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  • I agree with the first comment....conditions. Being allowed an hours break in 13 hrs, and taking only a fraction of that time because you know that you will not get your work done if you take your entitlement is unhealthy, dangerous and morale sapping. I leave the ward feeling it was a surreal experience....I have not assessed and evaluated my work, just implemented it as I go along, as situations arise. Skills such as cannulation, taking bloods, ECGs, IV antibiotics, CDs, drug rounds, and explaining to suprised relatives that their lived one is deemed fit for discharge despite their massive concerns, take up 99% of my work. No time to communicate with patients. The 6 c's are a total farce. I left nursing for 20 years and cannot believe what I am seeing. The skills I use now a monkey could do when taught, the skills that cannot be taught on one study day only I have no time to practice. I am working on a conveyor belt...get them in and get them out asap. So I can see why newly qualified nurse leave, they trained to care for patients and you don't have time to do that....simple as that. very very sad

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  • I Agree with the previous comments, we are all taught to practice person centred care. However In practice all care is task driven & time pressurised and just getting the basics done & ticking the boxes is what happens in reality, if your lucky. Result - most Nurses & HCA's end up burnt out and disillusioned, But they do their best to give good care in often difficult circumstances.

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