Enhancing the Care of the Elderly; An Educational Intervention to Improve Nutritional Knowledge of Nursing Home Staff




Cummings, Dana


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Cummings, Dana M., Enhancing the Care of Elderly; an Educational Intervention to Improve Nutritional Knowledge of Nursing Home Staff. Master of Public Health, June 1998, 81 p.p., 5 tables, bibliography, 15 titles. Gross deficiencies exist in the quality and quantity of health care personnel taking care of the aged (Hersch, 1989). Eighty to ninety percent of nursing home staff are untrained aides paid the minimum wage to care for one of the sickest and frailest populations in the United States (Patenaude, 1997). The purpose of this study was to determine if short term nutrition education, utilizing principles for adult learners, would result in knowledge improvement in nursing home staff. An interactive, participatory instructional model was implemented into an existing structure of regular staff inservices to answer this question. To test the effectiveness of the intervention a questionnaire was developed using items from previously validated instruments. Using three nursing homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, a total of 157 pre-test and 132 post-test questionnaires were completed. A significant increase in overall knowledge from 80.6% at baseline to 96.1% at post-test was found (p [less than] .001). Participants also showed a significant (p [less than] 0.001) overall increase in knowledge for each of the three learning domains; patient care related to nutrition, food and fluid intake of residents, and eating. These findings suggest that employing short-term education to nursing home staff, using principles for adult learners, can improve nutritional knowledge significantly.