Research indicates that nursing home caregivers are subjected to verbal and physical assaults by residents suffering from dementia and other mental disorders. Fortunately, according to results published in the October 2011 online issue of The Gerontologist, web-based training in communication and response skills can better equip caregivers to handle those attacks.
A randomized controlled trial of Caring Skills, a program developed by ORCAS with funding from the National Institute on Aging, showed that 8 weeks after the training, nurse aids maintained knowledge of what to do, had better attitudes towards residents, and had increased confidence in handling aggressive situations.
Caring Skills uses videos to model safe and respectful ways to prevent or if necessary deal with situations when residents become agitated or violent. Online courses cover fundamental skills and show advanced strategies to reduce risks to resident and staff caused by aggressive behaviors. Each course challenges students with quizzes and feedback to help build response skills.
The overarching goal of this project was to make care facilities safer for staff and residents. According to Dr. Blair Irvine, Principal Investigator on the project, “As the population ages, the challenge of providing high quality care for individuals with dementia will increase. Aggressive resident behaviors increase injuries to residents and staff, which is not only stressful for the caregiver, but can diminish the quality of care. If we can make residential care facilities safer and healthier places, everybody wins.”
Additional studies will be looking at whether actual assaults can be reduced over time when nurse aids are trained with Caring Skills and how nursing staff benefit from training about mental disorders.