UBC Graduate Research

The expanding roles for Care Aides : Implications for Care Aides, Professional Nurses, Patients and Families Kulchyski, Lynn


To meet increasing demands for healthcare, changes are being been made in the way healthcare is delivered. Healthcare aides who provide care to people who live in residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, and in the community are now being employed in acute care settings. Healthcare aides are unlicensed personnel and are trained to provide fundamental care. Their work loads, however, are expanding and the skill mix is changing to meet the needs of higher acuity patients. This review is focused on what is known about task shifting between healthcare aides and nurses, and the implications that task shifting has on healthcare aides, nurses, patients/residents and their families. The method chosen was a scoping review. Two electronic databases were selected for this review because they are known to house nursing health literature. Each database was searched using a variety of key titles for healthcare aides combined with key phrases "Skill creep, task shifting, role extension, role overlap, delegation, task sharing, accountability, and responsibility". Forty-one articles met the selection criteria. The results indicate that there are a number of benefits for patients/residents and families and it is imperative to recognize healthcare aides as essential members of the healthcare team. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses often do not fully understand the healthcare aide role or completely comprehend their own responsibilities and accountabilities when assigning or delegating tasks to healthcare aides. Therefore, registered nurses and licenced practical nurses need additional support to learn to communicate clearly with healthcare aides and supplemental training to ensure that they can safely assign or delegate tasks to healthcare aides.

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