Nurse's perceptions of caring for elderly patients at University Teaching Hospital's adult hospital and Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital: implications for training
Muvwimi, Sijatwa Tracy
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Nurses are key health professionals involved in the frontline care of patients, including the elderly. The World Health Organization predicted that the proportion of people aged over 60 years will increase from 11% to 22% between 2000 and 2050. Aligned with this increase in the ageing population is a greater demand for nursing care. Nurses’ perceptions of working with elderly people is of global interest because of many reported negative perceptions of care and limited number of qualified nurses interested in the field of caring for elderly patients. This study aimed at exploring the nurses’ perceptions of caring for elderly patients at Zambia’s main referral hospitals, University Teaching Hospital-Adult Hospital and Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. The study used a mixed methods approach. Data were obtained from 148 randomly and 18 purposively sampled nursing staffs through a structured interview schedule and Focus Group Discussions respectively. Binary Logistic Regression and content analysis of main themes were used to identify factors associated with perceptions of caring for elderly patients. Majority of the nurses (81%) had negative perceptions towards care of elderly patients. There was no statistical significance between the social demographic data, knowledge of caring, availability of resources, staffing levels and management support and perceptions of caring for elderly patients despite these reflecting in the obtained data from both the interview schedule results and sentiments from the focus group discussions. This could have been due to a small sample size which was used. The negative perceptions about caring for elderly patients in this study could be associated with the lack of knowledge specific on care of elderly patients, training units and geriatric specific guidelines and infrastructure in Zambia to aid in the adaptation process for nursing staff. Therefore, the nursing curriculum content should be reviewed to include care of elderly patients, infrastructure, staffing and equipment friendly to care of elderly patients should be put in place for these were seen to be essential in improving the nurses’ perceptions.