With the move of care into the community, the role of nurses caring for older people is changing. However, nurses may not be adequately prepared to cope with this changing role, especially if their training and experience have been primarily hospital based. This study involves an educational needs analysis of registered nurses working in the care of older people in nursing homes and clients' own homes. It is based on focus groups with registered nurses and individual interviews with other professionals, as well as group discussions with older people. The aim of this project is to provide research-based input into the design of a new community care of older people module, to be offered at Napier University, Edinburgh from February 1998. The results presented here consist of three themes or patterns that have emerged from the interview data. The specialist/generalist theme concerns issues of role definition and gerontological specialism. The social/medical theme addresses the shift towards a social model of care when nurses move into the community settings. Finally, the physical health/mental health theme represents the need for greater integration of skills and knowledge from both mental health and general health nursing in the field of community care for older people. The results indicate the need for significant attitude changes and provide a major challenge to educationalists
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