It makes sense to check out the décor before sending a loved one to a long term care (LTC) facility. Maybe even try the food in the cafeteria, check the comfort level provided in the beds, observe the cleanliness of the bathrooms, and determine whether the lighting is appropriate. Yet the most important aspect of LTC does not come from the outward appearances but from the caregivers.
In nursing homes, these caregivers, commonly referred to as CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) can independently affect the quality of your loved-ones care. They are the individuals who monitor daily health, dress and undress, bathe, feed and clean up after residents. These direct care workers spend the most time with your family member. Yet this highly stressful job comes with some of the lowest pay in the healthcare field, limited training, and very few tangible benefits. It is no small wonder that CNAs and other LTC workers turnover at an alarming rate, sometimes at 100% per year, costing the industry $4.1 billion annually.(1,2)
For the consumer, staff retention and turnover rates might not register as the most important issue regarding LTC home placement. Even if the consumer is aware of the importance of CNA abilities, it still might be hard to look for the red flags. This paper will discuss what to look for in a LTC facility regarding an atmosphere of respect among the staff and expectations of training and competency. Finally, consumers need to inquire about the staff retention and turnover, as these factors are related to the quality of care provided.(3)
About the Author: Debra Fox is the CEO of Fox Learning Systems and a long-time veteran of elder care staff training. A former television anchor, Debra pioneered the use of interactive documentary techniques to improve training and elder care quality.