Ask the care expert: What is 'consistent assignment'

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Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA

Q: Being a new charge nurse in long-term care, my facility is talking about moving to consistent assignment. Are you familiar with this concept?

A: “Consistent assignment” is a key step in giving care that is centered on the resident. It builds strong relationships between residents and staff that are central to better care.

A nursing home adopts consistent assignment to strengthen relationships between individual residents, their families, friends and the caregivers. Staff who take care of the same residents are happier in their jobs and tend to stay in them.

Benefits for residents:
• Residents don't have to explain to new staff how to care for them day after day.  
• Residents feel more comfortable with the intimate aspects of care.  
• Residents feel more secure with caregivers they know.
• Residents with dementia are much more comfortable with familiar caregivers.
• Residents and their families develop relationships with staff over time.

Benefits for caregivers:

• Caregivers can give individualized care and are more organized in their work.
• Medical staff who work with the same residents most of the time are more likely to notice slight changes in health, preventing more serious health problems in the future.
• Caregivers are better able to understand and respond to the
behaviors of residents with dementia. This is important, because residents with this condition often let others know what they want and need through their actions.
• Staff members prefer consistent assignment, as it lets them better connect to a resident they care for.

Please send your resident care-related questions to Sherrie Dornberger at