An article published in QUOI talks about the “real heroes,” that being the one critical occupation that is routinely forgotten when we champion the heroes: nursing home care aides who stayed when even their own lives and the lives of their families were put in danger. These heroes are the largest workforce in long-term care homes, providing upwards of 90% of direct care. Their role is central to the quality of care and quality of life of individuals living in long-term care homes.
By nature, the work of nursing assistants/care aides is intimate; it involves bathing, feeding and toileting residents and they can’t practice the advised “social distancing.” In their recent study, more than 65% of care aides reported rushing at least one essential care task and over 57% of care aides reported missing at least on essential care task altogether on their last shift. These aides also reported higher levels of burnout and lower levels of mental health than the general population.
As a community, we need to be planning for the mental health support that these essential workers will require in the aftermath of the pandemic. If we do not intervene to better support the front line in nursing homes, the outcomes will be far worse than they need to be among both residents and this essential workforce. It can start with you, consider getting a group of administrators/owners together to discuss what can be done ahead of the predicted onslaught of burned out, stressed employees! Take the time, it will pay in the end!
Stay well, mask up, and stay tuned!