Residential aged care leadership in Australia—Time for a compassionate approach: a qualitative analysis of key leader skills and attributes

Jacqueline O'Toole, Larissa Bamberry, Alan Montague

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To examine the perceptions of leadership by leaders within residential aged care and to identify the crucial requirements for successful leadership in this complex industry. Background: As an industry capitalizing on the concept of ‘care’, one of the critical attributes this research has found to be absent in many aged care leadership approaches is compassion. Methods: A qualitative methodology using thematic analysis was used to explore the construction of leadership attributes needed within residential aged care, as perceived by leaders in these organisations. Results: Senior staff in the aged care industry believe that compassion is both a key component and a gap in the skill set of aged care leadership and leaders. While most studies define good leadership and care in relation to clinical ‘safety’ and ‘efficiency’, this research demonstrates that compassionate caring is central to high-quality care in residential aged care. Conclusions: The aged care industry needs to enhance and encourage compassionate leadership as a cornerstone of humane and dignified care. Implications for Nursing: When developing theoretical explanations for the role of leadership in aged care, researchers should contemplate compassion as a key attribute required in residential aged care leaders. Education and training in this industry must incorporate the attributes associated with compassion, including emotional intelligence and person-centred leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2018-2027
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • compassion
  • leadership
  • residential aged care

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