How do practically trained (student) caregivers in nursing homes learn? A scoping review

Irene J.M. Muller-Schoof, Marjolein E.A. Verbiest, Annerieke Stoop, Miranda Snoeren, Katrien G. Luijkx


Background and objective: Practically trained (student) caregivers (further: caregivers) make up the majority of care staff in nursing homes (NHs). To keep up with the fast-changing healthcare environment and ensure a high quality of care, it is important to know how to stimulate continuous work-based learning (WBL) among this group. The purpose of the study was to systematically study the scientific literature published to date on (1) how caregivers learn in NHs and (2) what facilitates or impedes their learning.

Methods: A scoping review was carried out, systematically searching six scientific databases. A total of 35 studies published from January 2009 to February 2021 were included. Study characteristics, learning mechanisms, facilitators, and barriers to learning were extracted and synthesized.

Results: None of the studies specifically focused on how caregivers learn. Yet, we identified various learning mechanisms, and found that learning by theory or supervision was most frequently engaged in. Most learning mechanisms used among the groups in the included studies were planned and formal and developed and initiated by others out of the context. Three main themes were identified among the facilitators and barriers of WBL: individual learning, collective learning, and resources for learning. An interdependency between (sub)themes was found.

Conclusions: The way caregivers in NHs learn is understudied. Moreover, both their informal learning and the support they receive to be(come) active learners has been overlooked. As WBL provides caregivers with opportunities to learn within a real-life setting, we suggest more research on informal learning mechanisms.


Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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