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PhD Defence Noortje Kloos | Positive psychology in the nursing horme: Well-being of nursing staff and residents

Positive Psychology in the Nursing Home: well-being of nursing staff and residents

Noortje Kloos is a PhD student in the research group Psychology, Health & Technology. Her supervisors are prof.dr. G.J. Westerhof  and prof.dr. E.T. Bohlmeijer from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS).

Nursing homes are generally described as places where nursing staff do not want to work and older adults do not want to live. The traditional emphasis has thus been on diminishing negative aspects of nursing home work and living. This thesis, however, takes a complementary positive psychology approach, investigating how positive aspects of well-being can be monitored and improved in the nursing home.

The first part of this thesis focused on the well-being of nursing home staff. Chapter two showed that the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence at work are related to the well-being of nursing staff. Chapter three showed that an online multi-component positive psychology intervention is acceptable, but not effective in improving nursing staff well-being, and should be better tailored to this group.

The second part of this thesis focused on the well-being of nursing home residents. Chapter four showed that when using two single item 5-point scales of happiness and engagement, nursing staff assessments of resident well-being are not valid as a monitoring method. Chapter five showed that the self-reported satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence of nursing home residents is related to their well-being over time. We developed a person-centered care innovation for nursing staff, aimed at improving resident well-being (i.e., assessing well-being, planning support and providing daily support of the basic psychological needs). Chapter six showed that nursing staff experience various facilitators and barriers for using such an innovation, which differ depending on the innovation component.

This thesis adds to the Basic Psychological Needs Theory, by showing the unique benefit of each need for well-being in the nursing home context, independent of need valuation, and the benefit of balanced need satisfaction for residents, but not in the work-context of nursing staff. Taken together, this thesis shows the added value of taking a positive psychology perspective on well-being in the nursing home, and the value of supporting the three basic psychological needs in this context. However, well-being measurements, interventions and implementation plans should be specifically tailored to this context.