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Communication skills training in a nursing home: effects of a brief intervention on residents and nursing aides

Authors Sprangers S, Dijkstra K, Romijn-Luijten A

Received 22 August 2014

Accepted for publication 23 September 2014

Published 20 January 2015 Volume 2015:10 Pages 311—319

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S73053

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Suzan Sprangers, Katinka Dijkstra, Anna Romijn-Luijten

Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract: Effective communication by nursing home staff is related to a higher quality of life and a decrease in verbal and physical aggression and depression in nursing home residents. Several communication intervention studies have been conducted to improve communication between nursing home staff and nursing home residents with dementia. These studies have shown that communication skills training can improve nursing aides’ communication with nursing home residents. However, these studies tended to be time-consuming and fairly difficult to implement. Moreover, these studies focused on the communicative benefits for the nursing home residents and their well-being, while benefits and well-being for the nursing aides were neglected. The current study focused on implementing a brief communication skills training program to improve nursing aides’ (N=24) communication with residents with dementia (N=26) in a nursing home. The effects of the training on nursing aides’ communication, caregiver distress, and job satisfaction and residents’ psychopathology and agitation were assessed relative to a control group condition. Nursing aides in the intervention group were individually trained to communicate effectively with residents during morning care by using short instructions, positive speech, and biographical statements. Mixed ANOVAs showed that, after training, nursing aides in the intervention group experienced less caregiver distress. Additionally, the number of short instructions and instances of positive speech increased. Providing nursing aides with helpful feedback during care aids communication and reduces caregiver burden, even with a brief intervention that requires limited time investments for nursing home staff.

Keywords: dementia, psychopathology, agitation, caregiver distress, job satisfaction

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