Factors causing absenteeism of nurses in an acute psychiatric hospital : case study in Cape Town
Absenteeism is a serious problem globally, and it entails a high cost for organizations. Shortage of nurses is a world-wide concern and absenteeism worsens the existing shortage in hospitals. In order for hospitals to run smoothly and render quality nursing care, regular attendance is required. The South African health institutions are faced with challenges of poor working conditions, low pay, as well as physical exhaustion from the workload. These challenges are seen as contributing to nurse absenteeism. The overall aim of this study was to describe factors that contribute towards absenteeism among nurses in an acute psychiatric hospital in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The study was carried out in an acute psychiatric hospital in Cape Town. Only permanently employed nursing staff at Valkenberg Hospital and Community service nurses were considered for the study. This study was quantitative in nature and it used the descriptive survey design. A self-administered questionnaire was used as a tool for data collection. The sample size of this study consisted of 135 (67.5%) nurses. It was drawn from a hospital population of 200 nursing staff. A number of factors emerged as significantly contributing to nurse absenteeism. The results show that 69% of participants agree that they were absent as they are dissatisfied with pension funds, medical aid contributions and the criteria for issuing incentive bonuses. Moreover the same percentage of participants, 69% strongly felt that the amount of work was overwhelming due to the fact that the staff patient ratio is too high. About 51% of participants were not satisfied with their progression in their career of nursing. About 68% of participants were not satisfied with the sufficiency of equipment and 51 % were unhappy with working conditions. The results also show a significant rate of absence of female nurses and older nurses. Absenteeism has become a major challenge that cuts across many organisations and national borders. It is a global phenomenon. The study, in hint sight, recommends that the physical working conditions of the institution need to be revamped to accommodate employees’ basic needs. It further recommended that staff patient ratio be revised, as it places tremendous pressure on nurses in terms of excessive workload. A facility like pre-school also needs to be provided as the female nurses appear to be more absent from work due to their multi-task roles.