How the perspectives of nursing assistants and frail elderly residents on their daily interaction in nursing homes affect their interaction: A qualitative study

Chi Chi Lung, Yat Wa Justina Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Good support from and positive relations with institutional staff can enhance the psychosocial wellbeing of residents admitted to a nursing home. Nursing assistants (NAs) interact most frequently with residents and play an important role in developing good rapport with them. Most studies have described the daily interactions between NAs and residents as task oriented. Only few have attempted to explore the perspectives of NAs and residents on their daily interactions. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify the types of daily interactions perceived by NAs and residents. We also investigated those intentions / beliefs held by NAs and residents that might direct their interactive behaviors. Methods: A descriptive, exploratory, qualitative approach was used to explore the perspectives of 18 NAs (mean age: 51) and 15 residents (mean age: 84.4) on their daily interactions. Unstructured in-depth interviews were used to collect data. All of the interviews were conducted from July to December 2013. The collected data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed by content analysis. Results: Three types of interactions were found that described the NAs' and residents' perspectives on their daily interactions: (1) physiologically-oriented daily interactions; (2) cordial interactions intended to maintain a harmonious atmosphere; and (3) reciprocal social interactions intended to develop closer rapport. One or more themes reflecting the participants' intentions or beliefs were identified from each group to support each type of interaction. Conclusions: An over-emphasis on the formal caring relationship and over-concern about maintaining a harmonious atmosphere contributed to a superficial and distant relationship between the two parties. Building close rapport takes time and involves repeated reciprocal social interactions. The findings showed that with good intentions to establish closer rapport, both NAs and residents did favors for each other. All of those favors were easily integrated in the care provided to the residents without increasing the workload of the NAs. Modifying the training given to NAs and adjusting institutional policies are crucial to raising the competence of the NAs in building good relationships with residents. Positive interactions improve the psychosocial wellbeing of the residents and encourage them to cooperate during the delivery of care, thereby improving their overall health and contributing to the NAs' job satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2016


  • Interactions
  • Nursing assistants
  • Qualitative study
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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