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STUDY: Canadian Nursing Home Aides Spend a Lot of Time on Non-Care Tasks

June 22, 2015

A study of seven nursing homes in Canada found that registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and resident aides (RAs) spent a significant portion of their work time performing non-care tasks.

The study, published on June 6 on the website of the International Journal of Nursing Studies, analyzed 368 hours of on-site observation of nursing home staff in 2012.

The researchers categorized nursing home staff’s activities as either:

  • Direct-care tasks,
  • Indirect-care tasks, which include “documenting, communicating and chart reviews,”
  • “Non-value added activities,” which include menial non-care tasks such as retrieving and distributing linen, cleaning up, and simply “walking around the unit,” or
  • Other.

The researchers found that, of the nursing home care professions analyzed, RAs spent the largest percentage of their time on tasks unrelated to care.

Overall, RAs on the day shift spent 30.9 percent of their time on non-value added activities, with an additional 5.7 percent devoted to “other” tasks. Those on the evening shift, meanwhile, spent 37.5 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively, on non-value added and other tasks.

The results varied from facility to facility. At one of the facilities, RAs on the evening shift spent 53.7 percent of their time on non-value added tasks, plus an additional 7.3 percent on “other” tasks.

Licensed practical nurses, meanwhile, spent a majority of their time (56.8 percent day, 52.3 percent evening) on direct care, while registered nurses’ time was more evenly distributed between direct and indirect care.

The researchers say that the high level of non-care tasks performed by RAs suggests that Canadian nursing homes should strive to be more efficient in their staffing patterns.

“The fact that staff spent so much of their time engaged in non-value added activities shows there may be opportunities to improve work practices and to promote more time with residents,” the researchers concluded.

— by Matthew Ozga

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