The Making TRACS to Improve Nurse Retention project seeks to answer the question of whether the retention rate of registered nursing staff in one hospital can be improved through the collaborative development and use of an evidence-based nurse retention model, to be known as TRACS.

Who is involved in the project?

This is a collaborative project between Bournemouth University’s Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (FHSS) and the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH), and is funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing. The Patients Association is acting as an external consultant to the project.

What is the problem that the project seeks to address?

Registered nurse retention is a clearly identified problem in healthcare in the UK and more widely, compromising healthcare systems, individuals’ wellbeing and patient care quality. Some factors associated with intention to leave are understood, but ways of improving retention and maintaining that improvement have not been researched. This project addresses that gap, using a collaborative ‘bottom-up’ approach to engender staff empowerment in the process. This project is innovative and pragmatic, building on existing research and facilitating active involvement from those working on the ‘shop-floor’.

What is the aim of the project?

The aim of this project is to find out whether retention of registered nursing staff can be improved through the use of the TRACS nurse retention model. Developed from an extensive literature review, the TRACS model focuses on key factors known to impact on intention to stay:

  • supporting Transition at key career junctures
  • building Resilience
  • facilitating Authentic nurse leadership throughput the organisation
  • securing Commitment to support changing work practices and providing on-going Support for staff.

The TRACS model will be implemented and tested for impact using a robust pre- and post-intervention approach.

How will patients/service users be involved?

A representative from the Patient’s Association is serving on the project steering group and will contribute to project design and implementation discussions. The project team is linking with RBCH NHS Trust Patient Experience Lead who works with the Patient Advisory and Liaison Service (PALS). She is able to bring together service user volunteers to discuss aspects of the project when required. It is envisaged that service users will be consulted around the issue of continuity of care, which appears to be problematic when staff shortages occur. Access will also be provided for the research team to routinely collected patient experience data such as the Friends and Family Test and the Patient Survey related to the directorate where retention strategies will be targeted: Older Person’s Medicine.

What research approach will the project take?

Mixed method primary research will investigate the impact on nurse retention of a collaboratively developed retention strategy based on the TRACS model within one NHS Trust. Transferability of findings to other settings is envisaged. Secondary research activities will include a systematic review of the literature around nurse retention and analysis of publicly available recruitment, retention and job satisfaction NHS Trust data.

What are the time-lines of the project?

The project commenced in June 2017, and will conclude in May 2019.