Resident and family perceptions of the nurse practitioner role in long term care settings: a qualitative descriptive study
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BACKGROUND: Research evidence supports the positive impact on resident outcomes of nurse practitioners (NPs) working in long term care (LTC) homes. There are few studies that report the perceptions of residents and family members about the role of the NP in these settings. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of residents and family members regarding the role of the NP in LTC homes. METHODS: The study applied a qualitative descriptive approach. In-depth individual and focus group interviews were conducted with 35 residents and family members from four LTC settings that employed a NP. Conventional content analysis was used to identify themes and sub-themes. RESULTS: Two major themes were identified: NPs were seen as providing resident and family-centred care and as providing enhanced quality of care. NPs established caring relationships with residents and families, providing both informational and emotional support, as well as facilitating their participation in decision making. Residents and families perceived the NP as improving availability and timeliness of care and helping to prevent unnecessary hospitalization. CONCLUSIONS: The perceptions of residents and family members of the NP role in LTC are consistent with the concepts of person-centred and relationship-centred care. The relationships NPs develop with residents and families are a central means through which enhanced quality of care occurs. Given the limited use of NPs in LTC settings, there is an opportunity for health care policy and decision makers to address service inadequacies through strategic deployment of NPs in LTC settings. NPs can use their expert knowledge and skill to assist residents and families to make informed choices regarding their health care and maintain a positive care experience.
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