Nursing homes should evaluate how certified nursing assistants learn about the death of residents in order to improve the workers’ on-the-job experience, according to recently published findings.

A “substantial minority” of CNAs reported negative experiences around how they were notified of resident deaths and how bodies were removed from the facility, the investigators found. They interviewed 140 nursing home CNAs.

“Study findings suggest that more mindful approaches to the transitions related to resident deaths would be valued by CNAs and could improve their work experience,” the authors wrote.

The workers indicated that the “most positive” way to learn about a resident death was to be contacted prior to arriving for a shift. The “most negative” experience was walking into a room to find it empty or with a new resident in the bed. The CNAs also expressed negative feelings related to how quickly facilities filled beds that became available after a death, the study authors noted.

The investigators were affiliated with the Jewish Home Lifecare Institute on Aging, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and the University of Osnabrück in Germany. Full findings are available online and are forthcoming in Geriatric Nursing.