Care, communication and educational needs of primary care nurses to treat disabled patients

Neree Claes, Hannelore Storms, Vincent Moermans


Introduction: In the northern part of Belgium, 21,518 of 129,021 disabled patients (DP) were waiting to receive residential care. Due to waiting lists for DP, Belgian government promotes a shift towards primary care. This shift results in specific needs for primary care professionals (general practitioners, primary care nurses (PCN) and informal caregivers). The objective of this research was to detect nursing care, communication and educational needs of PCN to treat their DP and their informal caregivers.

Methods: A questionnaire was constructed by a multidisciplinary team of primary care professionals (4 general practitioners and 20 PCN) in different consensus meetings. Disabilities are defined as physical and/or intellectual impairment. The questionnaire was sent electronically to participants. Analysis is performed using SPSS 22.0.

Results: 1,547 questionnaires were mailed, 617 PCN responded (response rate = 40%). PCN are delivering care to 16 patients (+/-10) of which 5 DP (+/-6). 408 PCN have contact with at least half of informal caregivers. Most PCN (n = 582) report overburdening of informal caregivers due to an overload of tasks (72%). Personal hygiene and administering medication are most frequent administered care. Communication with DP and primary health care professionals is evaluated as very good. Most reported educational needs are dealing with behavioral problems (84%), functional loss (84%) and acquired brain injury (74%). There is no significant difference in educational needs of PCN nursing exclusively at home versus at least in residential care facilities.

Conclusion: PCN prefer education on dealing with behavioral problems, which corresponds to previous studies. An educational program can be designed to ensure PCN have necessary skills to ensure high quality care for DP and a reduced overburdening of informal caregivers.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

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