Work-related change in residential elderly care: Trust, space and connectedness

Wieke E. van der Borg*, Petra Verdonk, Linda Dauwerse, Tineke A. Abma

*Corresponding author for this work

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Increasing care needs and a declining workforce put pressure on the quality and continuity of long-term elderly care. The need to attract and retain a solid workforce is increasingly acknowledged. This study reports about a change initiative that aimed to improve the quality of care and working life in residential elderly care. The research focus is on understanding the process of workforce change and development, by retrospectively exploring the experiences of care professionals. A responsive evaluation was conducted at a nursing home department in the Netherlands one year after participating in the change program. Data were gathered by participant observations, interviews and a focus and dialogue group. A thematic analysis was conducted. Care professionals reported changes in workplace climate and interpersonal interactions. We identified trust, space and connectedness as important concepts to understand perceived change. Findings suggest that the interplay between trust and space fostered interpersonal connectedness. Connectedness improved the quality of relationships, contributing to the well-being of the workforce. We consider the nature and contradictions within the process of change, and discuss how gained insights help to improve quality of working life in residential elderly care and how this may reflect in the quality of care provision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805-835
Number of pages31
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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