Nursing Home Caregivers Experiences After Resident Death

Nursing home caregivers may often deal with many traumatic experiences after the death of a resident they have cared for. Long-term care facilities typically serve as the final homes of older adults. Consequently, they are also where many residents’ lives end.

Nursing Home Caregivers and the Residents

Of course, any death is a traumatic occurrence for family members and people who have gotten close to the deceased. Caregivers aren’t spared from its effects and many experiences considerable distress and emotional upheaval when a nursing home resident dies.

While nursing home insurance can help facilities deal with the legal consequences of a resident’s death, what of the caregivers and other workers in the facility? How do these deaths affect them, especially when they have cared for them for many years? 

Because deaths are such common occurrences in nursing homes, it is worth considering how they affect people exposed to them. In particular, staff administrators should pay attention to caregivers’ experiences and feelings about death, especially involving long-term care individuals.

How Caregivers Are Affected by Death

A study conducted by Rickerson et al. revealed that 72% of long-term care personnel experienced one or more grief symptoms in the month before the survey. Furthermore, they experienced more symptoms every time someone new died. 

The study also showed that deaths affected caregivers’ relationships with other people. More than 36% of care personnel interviewed reported significant changes in their dealings with other nursing home residents.

The Complexity of “Complex Grief”

It is an interesting dynamic about how caregivers’ feelings of grief progressed over time. In general, people tend to feel less and less troubled in the months and years after the death of someone they know.

But many of the nursing assistants interviewed experienced “complicated grief,” which does not improve significantly, even with time. For many, this prolonged grief manifests in varying degrees of depersonalization of nursing home residents. Consequently, many feel emotionally distant and impersonal toward the people they care for.

But the effects of death in nursing homes aren’t all adverse. Some nursing assistants experience a sense of personal accomplishment after going through a short grieving period. Some even consider such events as significant factors in their personal growth. These instances suggest that deaths in nursing homes can positively and negatively affect caregivers. 

Caregiver Roles After Resident Deaths

It is crucial to examine how the deaths of long-term care residents affect caregivers, remarkably certified nurse assistants (CNAs). These professionals tend to spend more time with other nursing care staff and provide more direct care. Consequently, they are much more likely to form personal bonds.  

CNAs do not get more attention despite how residents’ deaths affects them. After all, they are among the most exposed to these incidents in nursing home environments.

Staff rarely speak about a resident’s death in most scenarios. Thus, this highlights the shortcomings of bereavement support for nursing home workers. 

More importantly, CNAs often serve crucial roles immediately after residents pass away. They deal with postmortem care, and some are even responsible for informing family members about the death of their loved ones.

Again, this responsibility has an upside for some caregivers. Many nurses and nurse assistants feel that postmortem care allows them to say goodbye to the deceased person they used to care for. Some even take the opportunity to express their regard for the resident.

Handling the death of a resident is an intensely personal subject that could affect caregivers in different ways. Regardless of how nursing home staff perceive these events and act on them, examining the effects and practices is warranted.

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.