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Aims: To identify crucial programme characteristics and group mechanisms of, and lessons learned from hindrances in an empowerment programme for certified nurs ing assistants and contribute to the development of similar programmes in other care settings.
Design: Exploratory qualitative study.
Methods: Between May 2017 and September 2020, we used in-depth interviews and participant observations to study four groups participating in an empowerment pro gramme for certified nursing assistants (N = 44).
Results: We identified three crucial empowerment-enhancing programme character istics: (1) inviting participants to move outside their comfort zone of caregiving;
(2) stimulating the use of untapped talents, competencies and interests; (3) supporting the rediscovery of participants' occupational role and worth. Crucial group mecha nisms encompassed learning from and with each other, as well as mechanisms of self correction and self-motivation. Hindrances included a perceived lack of direction, and a lack of organizational support and facilitation.
Conclusion: We showed the significance of creating an inviting and stimulating envi ronment in which participants can explore and function in ways they otherwise would not. Likewise, we identified how this can help participants learn from, critically correct and motivate one another.
Impact: The programme under study was uniquely aimed to empower certified nursing assistants. Our insights on crucial programme characteristics and group mechanisms may benefit those who develop empowerment programmes, but also policymakers and managers in supporting certified nursing assistants and other nursing professions in empowerment endeavours. Such empowerment may enhance employee retention and make occupational members more likely to address challenges affecting their oc cupational group and the long-term care sector