Are Your CNAs In the Know about Sexual Harassment?

Regardless of your political leanings, there is no denying that the current presidential election has brought the issue of sexual harassment to the forefront.  As healthcare professionals, we know that sexual harassment is an important topic, mandated as part of every employee’s training by the Joint Commission, OSHA and state regulations.

Still, it seems as if most women (and some men) have at least one story to tell about a time they were sexually harassed.  Mine occurred many years ago, when, as a 22-year-old college senior, I landed an internship at a well-regarded children’s hospital.  Back then, parents weren’t allowed in the pre-operative area, so my role was to stay with the children and tend to their physical and emotional needs prior to surgery.

One day, as I was comforting a seven-year-old boy who was frightened about his imminent operation, the anesthesiologist assigned to his case came up to the boy’s stretcher.  Loudly enough for the patient to hear, he said to me, “I sure wish you’d hold my hand, lean over me, and talk softly like that…but I’d want you to loosen another button or two on your blouse.”  His words shocked me; I blushed, feeling both embarrassed and angry, but kept my attention on my young patient.

Later that day, I told my supervisor what had happened.  In turn, she relayed the episode to the Chief of Surgery, who asked to meet with me.  He apologized on behalf of the department and said that the offending anesthesiologist would also apologize.  I was told that he had been reprimanded both verbally and in writing in his personnel file.  Soon after, the anesthesiologist did apologize.  He kept his distance for the remainder of my internship and I suffered no repercussions from reporting the harassment.

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if I would have been so quick to report the incident had I been an employee at the hospital (instead of an unpaid intern).  Would I have potentially jeopardized my job and/or risked escalating the problem by reporting a man with whom I would have to work, day after day, month after month?  I’d like to think the answer is “yes,” especially because the physician’s offending behavior happened in front of a scared child whose life was soon to be in his hands.  But, of course, I’ll never know for sure.

Do your nurse aides understand what constitutes sexual harassment and how to respond if it happens to them?  Is “locker room talk” okay because it’s just words?  What types of actions are considered sexual harassment?  What if the offender is a person of power in your workplace?  What if the offender is a patient?

If your nurse aides could benefit from a better understanding of this important issue, consider our inservice, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.  It answers all of these questions, and more.  And, because it is such a critical topic these days, we are offering it at a 25% discount now through November 11th.

Sexual Harassment in the WorkplacePlease note that while the inservice was written for nursing assistants and provides them with one hour of inservice credit, the information in the module would be useful for any and all of your employees.

Best wishes,


Linda H. Leekley BS, RN, President, In the Know


Help Your Nurse Aides Make 2016 Their Healthiest Year Ever!

In our last blog post, we shared some resources that may help your nursing assistants ring in the New Year with a healthier outlook on life!  As we all know, one of the biggest health issues across America is the obesity epidemic…and those of us in the nursing field are not immune from it.  More than half of all nurses and nurse aides in the United States are overweight.  This isn’t surprising when you consider that nearly 70% of all Americans weigh more than they should for optimum health.

Let’s look back in time. In the 1950s, about a third of Americans were overweight but less than 10% of them were considered obese.  By 1990, more than half of all Americans were overweight and nearly 25% of them fell into the obese category.  Today, at least 35% of American adults are suffering from obesity.


While there are many factors that contributed to this rise in obesity, one that has recently been discussed in the mainstream media is our culture’s obsession with low fat foods.  For decades, we’ve been told to eat margarine, non-fat yogurt, skim milk…and to ease up on eggs, butter and other “fatty” foods.  Now, the experts are changing their tune.  Did you see the recent cover of Time magazine, declaring that butter is back?


A well-known nutritionist, Ann Louise Gittleman, has been trying to get across the message about fat for decades.  A New York Times bestselling author of 30 books, Ann Louise has this to say:

“For over 30 years, I have maintained my position against fat-free and low-fat eating.  I’ve shown how low fat can make you fat and why the right fats are the key to igniting effortless weight loss.  Eating the right fats can crush sugar cravings, stoke energy, promote longevity and ensure overall good health.”

In 1999, Ann Louise wrote a book called Eat Fat, Lose Weight.  At the time, her work was highly criticized by conventional dietitians, physicians and journalists.  Now, the nutrition world is catching up with her and Ann Louise is releasing an updated version of that book.  It is NOT a diet book but, rather, a primer that explains how eating a diet high in healthy fats (macadamia nut oil, anyone?) can help resolve health and weight issues.

Ann Louise has a special place in her heart for those of us in the nursing field.  Here’s what she told us:

“I have such great admiration for all nurses and nursing assistants. Thank you for being the real health advocates for the people under your care!  On a personal note, my niece, Shira, became a nurse recently and I couldn’t be more proud of her chosen profession!  And, during the extended care of my parents, the healing hearts and warm smiles of their nursing assistants and nurses filled me with gratitude.  All of you in the nursing field are truly unsung heroes and heroines. Please take as good care of yourselves as you do of others!”

While Eat Fat, Lose Weight is not a diet book, it does contain some fabulous recipes.  Here’s one that is going on my table during the holidays!

You can get the recipe for Avocado Key Lime Pie by clicking here.

If you would like to know more about Ann Louise’s work, check out her website.

And, if you are interested in reading Eat Fat, Lose Weight, you can take a look at it on Amazon.

A Caregiver Crisis Is Coming…

WANTED (between now and 2022): 580,000 new personal care aides, 424,200 home health aides, and 312,200 nursing assistants.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is estimating that in the not too distant future, our nation will be in the midst of a caregiver crisis.  Hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities will all be experiencing a shortage of caregivers.  To meet the demand of the aging baby boomer population, an estimated 1.3 million new positions will have to be created.

Will these positions be filled?  Caregiving positions carry a high rate of turnover and are sometimes hard to fill.    As you know, these are low-paid, demanding jobs that promise high rates of injury and, frequently, no benefits.  Some ideas that have been put forth for solving this crisis include:

  • Providing higher wages and overtime pay for direct care workers.
  • Filling more caregiver positions with immigrants.  (Currently, 20% of the caregivers in America were born in another country.)
  • Allowing family members to be paid to care for their loved ones.
  • Hiring retired nurses as paid caregivers.

The above information was compiled in a New York Times article, A Shortage of Caregivers, by Judith Graham.  (You can read the full article here.)  However, the comments people have posted to the article make even more interesting reading. Here is a sampling of those comments:

“This is back breaking work, literally . High incidences of injuries causing life long disabilities of the back and shoulders. As a society we need to value our elderly more, AND the people that care for them. 9-10 dollars take home pay…disgusting.”

“Heaven forbid that children take care of their parents.”

“Retired people should do heavy lifting? We’ve decimated pensions; we treat social security as stealing from the rich. What a wonderful idea; let’s put the idle retired to work at minimum wage or less. What brilliant person thought this one up?”

“It was the heavy lifting and turning that discouraged me from working in long term care. We have advanced technology in this country and can’t find a solution for our seniors???”

“There is a big problem with the numbers of aides being hired in assisted living facilities, etc. who do not speak English. Many places do not even require a test of rudimentary English. This is so dangerous to have CNAs who cannot even put a sentence together, let alone respond to an elderly resident.”

“Robotics and other mechanical innovations can take the physical difficulty out of this work and lower the requirement for the number of workers. In Japan, there are automated systems to provide a bath to geriatric patients that minimize fall and slip risks.”

Obviously, this is a very complicated and heated issue! What is your take on the “caregiver crisis”?  We’d love to hear your comments, ideas, concerns and/or suggestions!



Green Houses to Help Seniors AND Nursing Assistants Thrive?

You and your CNAs work very hard to promote the best quality of life possible for your elderly patients, clients and/or residents.  But, everyone in healthcare knows that certain issues can really impact client care—such as staffing ratios, quality time spent with clients and infection control practices.  One non-profit organization in the U.S. has developed their own answer to better quality care for the elderly–the Green House Project.

Inside the Green Houses

These small houses were designed to hold about 10 residents and represent a “hybrid” of home health care and nursing home care.  The idea is that each resident would receive better, more individualized care as well as one-on-one social interaction with other residents and nursing assistants.  There are currently 260 of these Green Houses in 32 states across the nation.

Within each of these homes, the clinical support team (including nursing assistants, a nurse, and a doctor) focus on not only physical health, but also emotional development and growth.  As you know, the elderly face many different emotional “roadblocks” (many of these dilemmas occur when a senior is placed in a nursing home).  Inside Green Homes, CNAs are encouraged to spend as much time as possible with each of their clients-including taking meals with the residents-with the hope that nursing assistants can help their clients feel happier and healthier.

A Shift in Health Care

Can you see these Green Houses multiplying across the U.S.?  Do you think your nursing assistants would enjoy working in a smaller environment that encourages close contact with their clients?  Do you think these quality interactions would help your nursing assistants provide better care?  We’d love to know your thoughts!

Top 5 Benefits of Civility Training

Does your organization suffer from a hidden culture of incivility—opening the door for dangerous medical errors, poor patient satisfaction and higher employee turnover? If so, you are not alone. In 2008, The Joint Commission recognized the widespread problem of “behaviors that undermine a culture of safety.”  In fact, uncivil behavior among healthcare employees now constitutes a sentinel event!

To combat this pervasive problem, The Joint Commission recommends that all accredited healthcare organizations be responsible for handling and preventing incivility in the workplace. In the Know’s REAL Healthcare Reform Civility Training Program makes fulfilling this recommendation easy.  Based on our popular book, “The REAL Healthcare Reform,” ITK’s program is a complete turnkey solution that contains everything you need to get a civility training program up and running immediately.

So, aside from meeting TJC’s recommendation, what’s in it for you? Healthcare organizations that implement civility training find that it:

  1. Reduces costly medical errors. Incivility ruins communication among your employees and poor communication is a direct threat to patient safety. Civility training decreases dangerous and potentially deadly medical errors by improving teamwork and communication.
  2. Increases employee retention. A staggering number of healthcare employees report having quit a job because of incivility. Civility training improves employee retention at every level, saving your organization the precious time and money involved in hiring and training new employees.
  3. Cuts down on “call-outs” and absenteeism. Working in a culture of incivility leads to more absenteeism.  As many as 47% of healthcare employees report spending less time at work because of incivility. Civility training creates an atmosphere that energizes and inspires those who are in it. Employees who are energized and inspired will look forward to coming to work, thus reducing the rate of absenteeism.
  4. Eliminates conflict and drama. Incivility leads to conflict and conflict equals DRAMA! Healthcare professionals who embrace civility are less likely to burn out, bully or “eat their young!” This means less conflict and drama among your employees!
  5. Improves client satisfaction and enhances the organizations reputation. Disgruntled, dissatisfied and disengaged employees don’t provide quality care to the clients they serve.  This leads to a decrease in client satisfaction. Clients who are dissatisfied with the care they receive share their negative experience with others in the community.  If your organizations embraces civility, you will enjoy improved client satisfaction and an enhanced reputation in the community.

Our Civility Training packages are available for as few as 12 learners and come complete with a copy of The REAL Healthcare Reform for each learner plus an Instructor’s Manual for the educator. You will find the Instructor’s Manual full of engaging classroom activities, thought-provoking discussion questions, convenient PowerPoint presentations, tips for improving participation and a CD with master copies of all the handouts and presentations.

The program materials are appropriate for every individual in your organization, clinical and non-clinical alike. Administrators, managers, nurses, aides, secretaries, and everyone in between, will find the program easy to use and understand. In addition, the program provides six hours of inservice credit for all your Certified Nursing Assistants.

To learn more about In the Know’s Civility Training Program, visit Embracing Civility then call 877-809-5515 to order your program today!