Digital Innovations in Healthcare and Education

Can healthcare assistant training improve the relational care of older people? A development and feasibility study of a complex intervention

Older people make up an increasing proportion of hospital inpatients. However, there are concerns about the quality of care they receive due to a lack of attention paid to the relational aspects of care, for example dignity, empathy and emotional support. In fact, a fifth of patients report not feeling they are treated with dignity at all times. 

Healthcare assistant (HCAs) spend around twice as much of their time in direct contact with older patients as registered nurses, but training in delivering high quality relational care is often ad hoc and compromised by an emphasis on practical skills training. Little is known about HCAs’ training needs, and few training interventions have been formally tested. 

Our study aims to understand the values-based training needs of HCAs in maintaining the dignity of – and providing respectful care to – older patients in acute NHS settings. A two-phase mixed-methods study, it’s examining current HCA training across all NHS acute trusts in England, including interviews, case studies and focus groups with staff and patients.

Based on this, the study’s second phase will involve developing a values-based training intervention and assessing the feasibility of a study that can formally test its performance and cost effectiveness against current training in improving the care of older patients. 

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For further details about the project please email Heather Wharrad.

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Digital Innovations in Healthcare and Education Research Group

The University of Nottingham
School of Health Sciences
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 0909