Giving aides a united voice

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Q&A: Lisa Cantrell worked her way up from nursing aide to nursing director but she never forgot her roots. A decade ago, she helped found a national association for aides. She says progress has been made, but administrators still need to do more for aides, thereby helping residents and facilities themselves. She says the association is back from the brink after Medicare cuts three years ago almost led to its demise.

Q. What do you feel is the most significant occurrence lately for nursing assistants?

A. There have been several momentous occurrences. The "Feeding Assistance Rule" is one. I believe this could potentially have great positive impact on the quality of care that is delivered and also on certified nursing aide work stress.

Utilizing these specially trained individuals during meals will free up valuable time for the CNAs to render personal care to the residents. CNAs spend so much of their time in the dining room that our members consider this a "lifesaver."

Technological advances have also impacted nursing assistants. Many facilities have gone to computerized documentation, not only for the nurses, but the CNAs as well. It has been very well received and the CNAs I have visited with feel it has improved communication a great deal.

Equipment such as patient lifts and bathing systems have become very advanced as well, considerably changing the way care is delivered in some cases.


Q. How has the nursing-assistant position or "business" changed for the better in recent times? For the worse?

A. First and foremost, the development of NAGNA 10 years ago. Having a national professional association with a united CNA voice, perception, and education, the better a profession can be served.

In addition better technology, such as patient lifts and computers, has made the nursing assistant role less burdensome and more productive.

The "worse" is the ever-growing shortage of quality individuals seeking out the profession, which creates an enormous burden on current CNAs and their employers.


Q. You say there won't always be "class warfare" between the front office and the front line. What do you mean? How confident are you of that?

A. We will continue to see a unity between frontline and front office since both have the same common goal – the resident. Once they realize this common factor and accept that it takes a "village," so to speak, to meet the needs of a resident, an effort will continue to advance, furthering the dissolution of such warfare.

I'm quite confident of this, as long as trends continue in the direction they have been heading between frontline and front office over the past decade.


Q. What do you mean when you say there are "some immovable objects/problems that stakeholders just have to work around"?

A. Funding is always an issue. Long-term care is one of the most regulated yet under funded businesses in America. Providing the level of care regulated by the government on the monies provided to do so leaves an enormous void in common sense. Until our country understands the issues more clearly, a battle of the bucks will continue.

Staff education and needed continued development in areas of skill sets are constant issues under current funding and reimbursement allocations.


Q. What's a favorite recruiting or retention success story you've heard – where CNAs re


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