AIM: This paper is a report of a study conducted to describe nurses' knowledge, experiences and perceptions of a rehabilitation nursing practice development project conducted in their workplace.
BACKGROUND: Several studies over the past two decades have led to increasing clarity about the nursing role in rehabilitation. Practice development is a useful vehicle for using the findings of such studies to enhance person-centred practice in rehabilitation settings.
METHOD: This qualitative study, in which grounded theory informed data collection and analysis, involved interviews with 21 nurses working in an inpatient rehabilitation unit in Australia about their knowledge, experiences and perceptions of a rehabilitation nursing practice development project conducted in their workplace. The three rounds of interviews were conducted as follows: 1) December 2005-January 2006; 2) June-July 2006; and 3) October 2006.
FINDINGS: Practice development was an effective vehicle for developing rehabilitation nursing practice. While collaboration and leadership were critical to the effectiveness of the project, the use of a clinically credible practice development facilitator and a focus on the development of collective nursing practice also seem to have been important. Through the introduction of new activities, both patient and nurse engagement in rehabilitation was enhanced and, as a consequence, the nurses developed a deeper appreciation of their role in rehabilitation.
CONCLUSION: Carefully and collaboratively designed and sensitively implemented work-based practice development initiatives can change the context and culture of inpatient care. The use of a facilitator with relevant clinical nursing expertise to engage staff individually and collectively with research findings and to reflect on their practice and skill development is worth exploring in similar initiatives.
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