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A qualitative study of handovers at shift changeovers in five care homes for older people in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Caroline Norrie, Jo Moriarty, Valerie Lipman, Rekha Elaswarapu, Jill Manthorpe

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of older people nursing
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Background: It is widely acknowledged that inadequate handovers are associated with putting patients at risk in clinical settings; however, handover practices have received little attention in other 24-hr settings such as long-stay residential care facilities. Aim: This study aimed to explore the perceived purpose and organisational processes involved in the handover of information between shifts of staff caring for older residents in five care homes in England. Methods: The study took an ethnographic approach to fieldwork, undertaken between February and June 2016. It consisted of observations of handovers (n = 12) and interviews with managers, Registered Nurses (RNs) and care assistants (n = 27) working day and night shifts. Interview transcripts and observation notes were analysed within NVivo using a matrix approach. Results: Handovers were highly variable in all five care homes in relation to their timings, locations, content and participants. Managers and RNs highlighted handovers as an opportunity for risk assurance, supervision, team building, staff education and monitoring of residents’ clinical status. In comparison, care assistants considered the purpose of handovers to be prepared for the responsibilities of working a shift. The discussion addresses implications of these findings, particularly consideration of how best use can be made of RN skills and knowledge in handovers. Conclusion: Research is needed to identify whether care home resident safety can be linked to handover practices and how the presence of RNs in handovers in care homes affects this. Implications for practice: Care home managers, RNs and care workers may find this research useful in practice when considering how best to organise handovers and deploy staff in care homes for older people.

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