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Staff of Nursing Homes

J. Neil Henderson, PhD
JAMA. 1981;245(10):1027. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310350017012.
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To the Editor.—  The advice by Sloane and Gwyther (1980;244:1840) regarding nursing homes and nursing home selection is excellent. Their comments regarding positive outcomes of institutionalization are particularly noteworthy. However, one comment deserves elaboration. Tucked away in their list for evaluating a prospective nursing home is the suggestion to "talk to residents, visitors, and staff." "Staff" requires special consideration.My data from a 13-month participant-observation study in a typical proprietary nursing home show that from the patients' view, the important care-giving staff is the corps of nurses' aides.1 Nurses' aides comprise about 43% of the total staff,2 are usually untrained,2,3 and have the most patient contact time.1 In addition, I have found that the lengthy in-room tasks of the housekeepers allow them to be important providers of psychosocial support.4 Families view only the administrators or licensed nursing staff as important resources regarding patient care, not


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