AIMS : To explore the expertise of registered nurses in residential care for
older people. BACKGROUND : As older people in residential care have many complex dependencies, nursing expertise is an essential component of care
excellence. However, the work of these nurses can be invisible and therefore
unrecognized. Thus, additional attention is required to illuminate such nursing
expertise. DESIGN : A mixed method design was used in this study. METHODS : The research took place in 2012 in the Republic of Ireland. Twenty three case study nurses were recruited from nursing homes. Each case study nurse involved five data collection methods: Shadowing, interview with acolleague, interview with a resident, a demographic profile and a Director of Nursing survey. The study was also informed by a modified focus group. Qualitative data were analysed using directed content analysis using a conceptual framework generated from the literature on nursing expertise. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS and presented in descriptive statistics. FINDINGS : The findings from the case studies and the modified focus group are presented in seven themes which represent nursing expertise in residential care of older people : transitions, context of the nursing home, saliency holistic practice knowledge, knowing the resident, moral agency and skilled know how. CONCLUSION : Nursing expertise in residential care of older people is a complex phenomenon which encompasses many aspects of care delivery within a person centred framework. By rendering this expertise visible, the need for appropriate and adequate skill mix for a growing residential care population is presented.