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We studied how older people describe others with cognitive impairment. Forty-two focus groups represented African Americans, American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos, Vietnamese Americans, and Whites other than Latinos (Whites) (N = 396, ages 50+), in nine locations in the United States of America. Axial coding connected categories and identified themes. The constant comparison method compared themes across ethnic groups. African Americans, American Indians and Whites emphasised memory loss. African Americans, American Indians, Latinos and Whites stressed withdrawal, isolation and repetitive speech. African Americans, American Indians, Vietnamese Americans and Whites emphasised ‘slow thinking’. Only Whites described mood swings and personality changes. Many participants attributed dementia to stress. Terms describing others with dementia included ‘Alzheimer's’, ‘dementia’, ‘senile’ and ‘crazy’. Euphemisms were common (‘senior moment’, ‘old timer's disease’). Responses focused on memory, with limited mention of other cognitive functions. Differences among ethnic groups in descriptions of cognitive health and cognitive impairment underscore the need to tailor public health messages about cognitive health to ways that people construe its loss, and to their interest in maintaining it, so that messages and terms used are familiar, understandable and relevant to the groups for which they are designed. Health promotion efforts should develop ethnically sensitive ways to address the widely held misperception that even serious cognitive impairment is a normal characteristic of ageing and also to address stigma associated with cognitive impairment.
We studied concerns about cognitive health among ethnically diverse groups of older adults. The study was grounded in theories of health behaviour and the representation of health and illness. We conducted 42 focus groups (N=396, ages 50+) in four languages, with African Americans, American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos, Whites other than Latinos (hereafter, Whites) and Vietnamese Americans, in nine United States locations. Participants discussed concerns about keeping their memory or ability to think as they age. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim. Constant comparison methods identified themes. In findings, all ethnic groups expressed concern and fear about memory loss, losing independence, and becoming ‘a burden’. Knowing someone with Alzheimer's disease increased concern. American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos and Vietnamese Americans expected memory loss. American Indians, Chinese Americans and Vietnamese Americans were concerned about stigma associated with Alzheimer's disease. Only African Americans, Chinese and Whites expressed concern about genetic risks. Only African Americans and Whites expressed concern about behaviour changes. Although we asked participants for their thoughts about their ability to think as they age, they focused almost exclusively on memory. This suggests that health education promoting cognitive health should focus on memory, but should also educate the public about the importance of maintaining all aspects of cognitive health.
The purpose of this study was to: (1) explore experiences and responses of staff in caring for sheltered, frail, Hurricane Katrina evacuees; and (2) identify how planning and training can be enhanced for staff who may care for frail older populations during and after disasters.
Individual, in-person, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 38 staff members in four nursing homes in Mississippi, sheltering 109 evacuees in November 2005, nine weeks after Hurricane Katrina.Twenty-four were direct care staff, including certified nursing assistants, licensed nurses, dietary aides, and social workers; 14 were support staff, including maintenance and business managers. The number interviewed in each nursing home averaged 9.5 (range 6–15). Using a discussion guide and focusing on their experiences caring for nursing home evacuees, staff were asked to describe: (1) experiences; (2) problems; (3) what helped; and (4) what was learned. Data were processed using grounded theory and thematic analysis. Responses of direct care staff differed in emphasis from those of support staff in several areas; responses from these groups were analyzed separately and together. Three of the researchers identified recurring themes; two organized themes conceptually.
Staff emphasized providing emotional reassurance to evacuees as well as physical care. Many described caring for evacuees as “a blessing,” saying the experience helped them bond with residents, evacuees, and other staff. However, caring for evacuees was difficult because staff members were extremely anxious and in poor physical condition after an arduous evacuation. Challenges included communicating with evacuees' families, preventing dehydration, lack of personal hygiene supplies, staff exhaustion, and emotional needs of residents, evacuees, and staff. Teamwork, community help, and having a well-organized disaster plan, extra supplies, and dependable staff helped personnel cope with the situation.
Staff of nursing homes that sheltered Katrina evacuees demonstrated resilience in the disaster's aftermath. Many placed the well-being of residents as their first priority. Results underscore the importance of planning, teamwork, and adequate supplies and staffing. Training for long-term care staff should emphasize providing emotional support as well as physical care for residents and evacuees during and following disasters. Nurses, social workers, and other staff members responsible for promoting emotional well-being for nursing home residents should be prepared to respond to disasters.
The purpose of this study was to examine how agencies in South Carolina that provide in-home health care and personal care services help older and/or disabled clients to prepare for disasters.The study also examines how agencies safeguard clients' records, train staff, and how they could improve their preparedness.
The relevant research and practice literature was reviewed. Nine public officials responsible for preparedness for in-home health care and personal care services in South Carolina were interviewed. A telephone survey instrument was developed that was based on these interviews and the literature review. Administrators from 16 agencies that provide in-home personal care to 2,147 clients, and five agencies that provide in-home health care to 2,180 clients, were interviewed. Grounded theory analysis identified major themes in the resulting qualitative data; thematic analysis organized the content.
Federal regulations require preparedness for agencies providing inhome health care (“home health”). No analogous regulations were found for in-home personal care. The degree of preparedness varied substantially among personal care agencies. Most personal care agencies were categorized as “less” prepared or “moderately” prepared. The findings for agencies in both categories generally suggest lack of preparedness in: (1) identifying clients at high risk and assisting them in planning; (2) providing written materials and/or recommendations; (3) protecting records; (4) educating staff and clients; and (5) coordinating disaster planning and response across agencies. Home health agencies were better prepared than were personal care agencies.
However, some home health administrators commented that they were unsure how well their plans would work during a disaster, given a lack of training. The majority of home health agency administrators spoke of a need for better coordination and/or more preparedness training.
Agencies providing personal care and home health services would benefit from developing stronger linkages with their local preparedness systems. The findings support incorporating disaster planning in the certification requirements for home health agencies, and developing additional educational resources for administrators and staff of personal care agencies and their clients.
This is an exploratory study of nursing home preparedness in South Carolina intended to: (1) examine nursing home administrators' perceptions of disaster preparedness in their facility in the absence of an immediate emergency or disaster, and changes in their views about preparedness following a large disaster; (2) study whether administrators' knowledge of shortcomings in preparedness leads them to change their views about planning; and (3) suggest ways to enhance preparedness.
A descriptive survey based on interviews with public officials responsible for nursing home safety was developed and mailed to all 192 licensed nursing homes in South Carolina in July 2005, and an extensive literature review was performed. As responses to the baseline survey were received, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.Two weeks after Katrina, a brief, post-Katrina survey was mailed, asking administrators if Katrina had influenced their preparedness plans. Quantitative responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Three researchers coded the qualitative data and conducted a thematic analysis.
One hundred twelve baseline surveys and 50 post-Katrina surveys were completed (response rates 58.3% and 26%, respectively). A large number of respondents reported a high level of satisfaction with the overall ability of their facilities to protect residents during an emergency or disaster. However, many were less satisfied with their preparedness in specific, important areas, including: (1) providing shelter to evacuees from other nursing homes; (2) transportation; and (3) staffing. In the post-Katrina survey, 54% of respondents were re-evaluating their disaster plans; only 36% felt well-prepared. Those re-evaluating their plans specifically mentioned evacuation, transportation, supplies, staffing, and communication.
Transportation, communication, supplies, staffing, and the ability to provide shelter to evacuees are important domains to consider when evaluating nursing home preparedness. Administrators believe their nursing homes need to improve in all of these areas. Recommendations include developing improved transportation arrangements, redundant communication systems, and stronger linkages with local emergency preparedness systems.
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