Nursing home neglect is a growing problem as the population ages and more seniors need to receive care in assisted living and nursing facilities. The number of seniors in nursing homes is expected to quadruple by 2050 and nursing facilities will have an estimated 6.6 million residents. Many of these residents will get the majority of their care from certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who provide assistance with eating, dressing, bathing, and routine daily living tasks.
Most CNAs have a high school diploma as well as a set number of training hours, but do not have advanced formal education. Work tends to be relatively low paying and there are limited or no opportunities for advancement. CNAs face high physical and emotional demands in their daily work and are often not well trained. Better training of CNAs could make a big difference in helping to reduce risks associated with nursing home neglect. Research from the University of South Carolina looked into how the development of quality training programs for CNAs and other nursing home staff members could be an "essential" part of preventing abuse and neglect in a nursing home setting.
Preventing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Through Better CNA Training
Staff training has been identified as one of the key factors to reduce mistreatment or elderly patients in nursing home settings. South Carolina researchers interviewed nursing home staff members, policy makers, and related professionals to help identify training needs to prevent the mistreatment of seniors. Based on findings from the research, core competencies were identified that are essential in caregiver training to reduce the risk of neglect or abuse in senior living facilities. The competencies were broadly divided into groups including training on:
- How to define abuse and neglect. Staff members must have a clear understanding of what constitutes abusive or neglectful behavior or adverse actions that affect a senior's quality of daily living. The majority of mistreatment in nursing homes takes the form of neglect issues such as failure to respond to a call button, failure to ensure necessary items like dentures are within reach, and failure to monitor and check on residents. Feeding patients can also take a long time, and CNAs may give up and put in a stomach tube or give the senior Ensure instead of taking the time to provide assistance with normal food intake. Staff members need to be informed of the negative impact of neglectful behaviors on patient care.
- Identifying state and federal policies surrounding the reporting of abuse and neglect. Most CNAs receive only basic training about when and how to document and report incidents of abuse. All resident complaints and incidents of incomplete care should be documented.
- Identifying workplace issues that create a risky climate for abuse and neglect. For example, understaffing is a risk factor and CNAs should be trained on how to react and respond when conditions beyond their control affect quality of patient care.
These are a few of the key issues CNAs should be trained on in order to better reduce the risk of nursing home abuse and neglect.