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Older people's nursing 'not widely perceived as a specialism'

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Nurses who work predominantly with older patients are still not seen as specialists, despite the increasingly complex nature of care in this area, according to a study on international nursing opinion.

Angela Kydd, a senior lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland, highlighted that historically working with older people was viewed as a “menial job”.

Her study set out to explore modern attitudes to caring for older people across Scotland and five other countries: the US, Slovenia, Germany, Sweden and Japan.

Nurses and healthcare assistants, including those that worked predominantly with older patients, were asked to complete a 20 question survey. In total 4,791 responses were analysed.

Dr Kydd said: “The results showed that although health care professionals and assistants in America reported a sense of professional esteem, the majority of the respondents in the five remaining countries did not.”

She said a “large number” of respondents stated that other people did not view those working with older people as specialists.

“It would appear that working with older people is still viewed as a job and not as a specialism,” she said. “Further studies are needed to explore methods necessary to improve the image of those who work with older people.”

The findings were presented on Tuesday at the Royal College of Nursing’s international research conference in London.

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