When nurse aides were more empowered, family satisfaction rose.

Long-term care managers would be wise to allow nursing assistants — and residents’ family members — a greater say in managerial-type decision-making, authors of a new study assert.

When nursing staff were empowered to make decisions without micromanagement from above, family members’ assessment of service quality was generally higher. Investigators gauged reactions to topics such as menu planning, activities and the expansion of facilities.

A thousand employees at 33 nursing facilities, as well as “primary” family members, were surveyed by the University of Texas-Arlington research team led by Darla J. Hamann, Ph.D.

Empowering aides had an even stronger effect than giving more latitude to certified or degreed nursing staff, Hamann’s team found.

“Empowering the NAs, who spent more time with the residents and their families, was more effective for improving service quality than empowering other types of employees,” she noted.

Results appeared in August’s Journal of Applied Gerontology