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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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New study to improve retention in elderly and mental health nursing

Published: 10/04/2017

A dementia nurse at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded £127,832 from charitable trust, The Burdett Trust for Nursing to support research and development of a sustainable model of peer support to improve the retention of newly qualified nurses.

This is the second research grant that has been awarded to Analisa Smythe, Dementia Project Lead based at the National Centre for Mental Health in Birmingham, and her co-applicant Catharine Jenkins, Senior Nurse Lecturer at Birmingham City University by charitable trust, The Burdett Trust for Nursing.

In 2013, the duo received funds to develop specialist training for dementia nurses who work in a care home setting, which also highlighted that newly qualified nurses experience ‘burnout’, causing nearly one fifth of nurses to leave the profession within three years after qualifying.

Funds awarded to this project will aim to address the problem of nurses leaving their profession by researching, developing and evaluating a retention-orientated model of sustainable support for post-preceptorship nurses, with a focus on nursing groups who are at high risk of leaving the profession such as those working in elderly or mental health care.

Research and analysis will be nurse-led and will be undertaken at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with partners including Birmingham City University, University Hospital Birmingham and the University of Bradford, that will help develop models engagement that aim to improve morale and increase retention across the board.

Analisa Smythe, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant to help build a sustainable nursing workforce.

“There is a long-standing, global concern about retention rates in nursing within an NHS and care home environment. Through previous research, we know that nurses who leave are influenced by a sense of isolation, low levels of morale, extreme pressures at work, lack of competence development and weak team cohesion.

“This grant will help us to continue with our research and develop models of peer support, both on and off-line, that will aim to address the many causes of poor retention by building robust networks that will provide invaluable support to nurses throughout their career.”

There are many reasons for improving the working lives of nurses and improving retention levels, both ethical and financial. The findings and evaluation of this study will create a person-centred approach in combination with solution-focused strategies that will support nursing staff in a variety of settings, throughout their professional career.