Using workload measurement tools in diverse care contexts: the experience of staff in mental health and learning disability inpatient settings
Abstract Accessible summary What is known on the subject? Difficulties with the recruitment and retention of qualified nursing staff have resulted in nursing shortages worldwide with a consequential impact on the quality of care. It is increasingly recommended that evidence‐based staffing levels are central to the development of workforce plans. Due to a paucity of empirical research in mental health and learning disability services the staffing needs and requirements for these settings are undefined and the availability of tools to aid staffing decisions is limited. What this paper adds to existing knowledge? This paper provides a valuable insight into the practical uses of these tools as perceived by staff members with day‐to‐day experience of the requirements of mental health and learning disability wards. It reveals that while workload measurement tools are considered a valuable aid for the development of workforce plans, they are limited in their ability to capture all aspects of care provision in these settings. It further emphasizes the inapplicability of a one‐shoe‐fits‐all approach for determining nurse staffing levels and the need for individual and customized workforce plans. What are the implications for practice? This study demonstrates that the development of tools for use in mental health and learning disability services is in its infancy, yet no tool that has been validated as such. It highlights the potential for workload measurement tools to aid staffing decisions; however, a more holistic approach that considers additional factors is needed to ensure robust workforce planning models are developed for these services. Introduction The critical challenge of determining the correct level and skill mix of nursing staff required to deliver safe and effective health care has become an international concern. It is recommended that evidence‐based staffing decisions are central to the development of future workforce plans. Workforce planning in mental health and learning disability nursing is largely under‐researched with few tools available to aid the development of evidence‐based staffing levels in these environments. Aim It was the aim of this study to explore the experience of staff using the Safer Nursing Care Tool and the Mental Health and Learning Disability Workload Tool in mental health and learning disability environments. Method Following a 4‐week trial period of both tools, a survey was distributed via Qualtrics online survey software to staff members who used the tools during this time. Results The results of the survey revealed that the tools were considered a useful resource to aid staffing decisions; however, specific criticisms were highlighted regarding their suitability to psychiatric intensive care units and learning disability wards. Discussion This study highlights that further development of workload measurement tools is required to support the implementation of effective workforce planning strategies within mental health and learning disability services. Implications for Practice With increasing fiscal pressures, the need to provide cost‐effective care is paramount within the services of the National Health Service. Evidence‐based workforce planning is therefore necessary to ensure that appropriate levels of staff are determined. This is of particular importance within mental health and learning disability services due to the reduction in the number of available beds and an increasing focus on purposeful admission and discharge.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Fanneran, T. , Brimblecombe, N. , Bradley, E. and Gregory, S. (2015) Using workload measurement tools in diverse care contexts: the experience of staff in mental health and learning disability inpatient settings. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22 (10), pp. 764-772.
Peer Reviewed : Yes