Changing Perceptions of Long-Term Care Nursing: Page 2 of 2

April 13, 2012

The AALTCN comprises an executive board, thousands of members, and numerous business partners who understand the importance of continued advocacy and support of nurses working to make a difference in LTC. We as a group know that there is power in numbers, and that increased passion and ongoing professional development is key to attaining and maintaining excellence. The AALTCN offers many avenues of education and certifications to augment the knowledge base of LTC nurses and gives recognition to this growing nursing subspecialty.

As a director of nursing and licensed nursing home administrator, my goal is to motivate, educate, mentor, and support my organization’s registered and licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, and ancillary staff in such a way that they feel both valued and vital to maintaining our mission to truly make a difference in the lives of our residents. Supporting nurses in their professional development has a direct impact on their confidence and competence. Further, allowing them time to enhance their relationships with their peers leads to the staff feeling connected to their team, which also has a positive effect on resident care.

I am proud to say that more than 90% of the nurses in my facility are certified in LTC nursing, and they have often thanked me for this educational opportunity. Although on-the-job learning is invaluable, the education received in a classroom setting should not be undervalued. I have often heard nurses say things like “this class really connected the dots,” or “the information was relevant and made me finally understand the big picture.” For example, with the often frenetic pace at LTC facilities, it may be impossible for a nurse to take the time to determine how the entire care team works together from a care plan to assist a resident in achieving various goals, but this is a topic that class discussion can quickly shed tremendous light on. AALTCN’s certification classes are well balanced, addressing many important facets of LTC nursing, such as leadership, regulatory issues, finances, and meaningful documentation, including the multitude of ways documentation is used.

A staff that feels prepared, knowledgeable, valued, and connected with their team will be better equipped to care for residents, leading to better outcomes and increased resident and staff satisfaction. They will also be more likely to stick with their employer, resulting in less turnover, another factor that can have a tremendous effect on care outcomes. Providing ongoing meaningful education is a win-win situation all around and can factor largely into our ability to further improve the perception of LTC services.