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STUDY: CNAs Deserve to Be Informed of Resident Deaths

January 8, 2015

Nursing homes should be mindful of the feelings of their certified nursing assistants (CNAs) when notifying them of resident deaths, a recent study suggests.

In the study, published on December 29 on the website of the medical journal Geriatric Nursing, researchers asked a group of 140 CNAs to evaluate the ways in which they have heard about the deaths of residents.

The CNAs reported that they prefer to hear about deaths before reporting for shift, preferably by a fellow CNA or family member of the resident.

The most negative way for CNAs to learn that a resident had died was by finding his or her bed empty — or with a new resident in it — upon arrival at the nursing home.

“We understand that they need money but sometimes the bed is filled before we are told that the resident passed away,” one CNA is quoted as saying. “If a resident dies one day and you have off the next day you will see a new resident in the bed before you even find out that the resident died.”

The researchers write that nursing home administrators should establish a protocol to quickly and honestly communicate with CNAs about resident deaths in order to “ensure that the CNAs’ work and relationship with the resident is acknowledged and respected by nursing leadership.”

Additionally, “CNA job satisfaction may be enhanced,” the researchers write. Prior research has shown that CNAs are “less likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs when they reported positive feelings toward their supervisors and felt respected for their work,” they conclude.

— by Matthew Ozga

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