Enabling and empowering certified nursing assistants for quality dementia care.

International journal of geriatric psychiatry

PubMedID: 10202662

Beck C, Ortigara A, Mercer S, Shue V. Enabling and empowering certified nursing assistants for quality dementia care. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 1999;14(3):197-211; discussion 211-2.
Currently, 1.2 million full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) care for more than 1.5 million residents in nursing homes where 75% of residents have dementia. By the year 2010, the number of residents in these institutions may double. Registered nurses (RNs) make up less than 7% of a home's total FTEs. In contrast, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) account for more than 40% of total FTEs. Thus, CNAs serve as the primary caregivers in nursing homes. Typically, CNAs have a high school education or less, and receive little more than minimum wage. Their extensive contact with residents has a tremendous impact on quality of life, but significant barriers limit their caregiving effectiveness. These barriers include poor pay, minimal long-term benefits, and insufficient training, recognition and support for their physically and emotionally labor-intensive care. This paper addresses the issues of training CNAs for dementia care by suggesting an organizational framework within which to view dementia training; providing an overview of barriers to empowering CNAs to provide quality care to dementia residents; reviewing research that has addressed a specific barrier; making recommendations for future research; and suggesting research approaches to address these recommendations.