Nurses working in the long-term care sector may feel isolated or excluded from other workers in the healthcare industry, new research suggests.

The study, conducted by researchers at Northumbria University and the University of Cambridge, set out to gauge nursing home nurses’ perceptions of their “work identities” and experiences within the sector.

Respondents from seven nursing homes in England shared that their work caring for “residents” differs from the way other nurses care for “patients,” the researchers reported in their study, published online on Friday. The study also showed that the nurses may feel uncertain about their work identity, or isolated from healthcare workers in other settings.

Some nurses may try to boost their work identity by changing their role to be more in line with “what they perceived the ‘nurse identity’ to be,” researchers wrote.

“Nurses’ work activities and professional group identity influence their work identity,” the study reads. “When work activities and professional group identity do not align with role expectations, as can be the case for nursing home nurses, work identity may be compromised.”

Findings appear in online in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.