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Keywords

BARRIERS TO EATING, NURSING ASSISTANT, NURSING HOME, NUTRITION

 

Authors

  1. Crogan, Neva L PhD, RN, CS
  2. Shultz, Jill A PhD

Abstract

Nursing home nurses (licensed practice nurses and registered nurses) were assessed to determine nutrition training issues that have a potential impact or influence on protein-calorie malnutrition of residents. The results of a 50-item nutrition knowledge exam are reported and compared with what nurses report they are interested in knowing about nutrition. Nurses in nursing homes were found to lack sufficient nutrition knowledge to meet dietary needs of elderly residents.

 

Malnutrition makes an impact on 30 to 85% of the nation's 1.5 million Americans over age 65 who reside in the nation's 20,000 nursing homes (Frisoni et al., 1994; Nelson, Coulston, Sucher, & Tseng 1993). Malnutrition among the elderly in nursing homes can lead to death or chronic disability (Keller, 1993). Specifically, there is evidence of widespread protein-calorie malnutrition (PCM), with the implication that many nursing home residents have inadequate food intake (Abbasi & Rudman, 1994).

 

Nursing staff are the first line of defense in the fight against PCM in nursing home residents. Many times, the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) leads the assault because LPNs commonly work in nursing homes. Nursing home nurses (LPNs and registered nurses [RNs]) are responsible for the assessment, identification, and initiation of interventions to treat the resident's nursing or medical problems. The role of the nurse in the nursing home is changing, placing pressure on nurses to acquire additional skills. Gone are the days of administering a few medications and caring for a mostly stable resident population. Today nurses must be able to assess an everchanging elderly population, supervise the hands-on care provided by nursing assistants, and administer medications and treatments to a diverse population of residents. The nurse is responsible for ensuring that the physical and nutritional needs of the resident are met within the facility; the nurse requires education commensurate with these responsibilities.

 

Nursing home nurses (LPNs and RNs) were assessed to determine nutrition-training issues that have a potential impact on PCM of residents. The results of a 50-item nutrition knowledge exam are reported and compared with what nurses reported they are interested in knowing about nutrition. The specific aims were to:

 

1. Report nurses' perceptions of gaps in knowledge relative to PCM of nursing home residents;

 

2. Test the relationship between nurses' perceptions of gaps in knowledge about PCM and actual scores on a questionnaire that assessed knowledge related to PCM; and

 

3. Identify the education needs of nurses relative to reducing PCM of residents in nursing homes.