Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide most of the care received by nursing home residents. Although their work is often perceived as “unskilled,” CNAs perform complex and important functions. Despite their title, their main role is not to assist nurses, but to assist residents. They help residents with daily activities, measure their vital signs, watch for and report changes in their conditions, and provide companionship and emotional support.
Good quality care for residents and a stable CNA workforce depend on providing CNAs with the training they need to be well prepared for their jobs since inadequate training contributes to staff dissatisfaction and high turnover which adversely affect quality of care.
This AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper adds to the literature on CNA training by examining how many hours of initial training and clinical training are needed. It focuses on state nurse aid training programs in California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
The study looks at pre-training screening, remedial education, training in English as a Second Language, and shadowing. CNA testing and reimbursement of CNAs for their training and testing expenses are also considered. Based on their findings, the authors make recommendations for ensuring that CNAs receive adequate training to provide good care to residents, improving student retention, and ensuring that CNAs are properly reimbursed for their training and testing expenses. (39 pages)