Meanings Over Time of Working as a Nurse in Elderly Care

Karin Blomberg*, Inger James, Annica Kihlgren
School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden

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© Blomberg et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, S-70182, Örebro, Sweden; Tel: +46-19-30 12 70; Fax: +46-19-30 36 01; E-mail:



Although registered nurses (RNs) play a central role in the care of older persons, their work in elderly care has historically been described as “low status” in nursing. This is especially problematic due to the global issue of RN turnover, but there is still little evidence of how to change this trend. Better understanding is needed of the reasons why RNs work in elderly care, as well as knowledge of whether these reasons have changed over time.


The aim was to explore the meaning of working in elderly care, over time, from the perspective of RNs.


We interviewed thirteen RNs working in nursing homes, six of them in 2000 and the remaining seven in 2012, and analysed the resulting data using Interpretive Description.


The results show similarities and differences over time in the RNs’ reasoning about the meaning of their work with older persons, from a focus on obstacles to a view of opportunities.


An RN’s intention to continue working in elderly care might be based on their beliefs; their view of older people, and their experiences of being able to influence the care. Managing this knowledge could be an essential factor in reversing the historical trend of RN work in elderly care being seen as low status, and the increasing turnover in such nurses. Our results could stimulate reflection on daily care and beliefs about caring for older persons.

Keywords: Beliefs, elderly care, registered nurse, nursing.