Working in small-scale, homelike dementia care: effects on staff burnout symptoms and job characteristics. A quasi-experimental, longitudinal study

Sandra M. G. Zwakhalen*, Jan P. H. Hamers, Erik van Rossum, Ton Ambergen, Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen, Hilde Verbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aim: This paper reports on a quasi-experimental, longitudinal study on the effects of working in a new type of dementia care facility (i.e. small-scale living facilities) on staff burnout symptoms and job characteristics (job autonomy, social support, physical demands and workload). Methods: It is hypothesised that nursing staff working in small-scale facilities experience fewer burnout symptoms, more autonomy and social support, and fewer symptoms of physical demands and workload compared with staff in regular wards. Two types of long-term institutional nursing care settings were included: 28 houses in small-scale living facilities and 21 regular psychogeriatric wards in nursing homes. At baseline and at follow-ups after 6 and 12 months nursing staff were assessed by means of self-report questionnaires. In total, 305 nursing staff members were included in the study, 114 working in small-scale living facilities (intervention group) and 191 in regular wards (control group). Results: No overall effects on burnout symptoms were detected. Significantly fewer physical demands and lower workload were experienced by staff working in small-scale living facilities compared with staff in regular wards. They also experienced more job autonomy. No significant effect was found for overall social support in the total group. Conclusions: This study suggests positive effects of the work environment on several work characteristics. Organisational climate differs in the two conditions, which might account for our results. This may influence nursing staff well-being and has important implications for nursing home managers and policy makers. Future studies should enhance our understanding of the influence of job characteristics on outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • burnout
  • long-term care
  • nursing home
  • nursing staff
  • small-scale living facilities
  • staff well-being

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