WINNIPEG -- More than half of care aides in nursing homes in Western Canada say they’ve missed or rushed at least one essential care task during their last shift.

Researchers from Translating Research in Elder Care, which is based at the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta, interviewed more than 4,000 care aides from 93 urban nursing homes in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. The study said unregulated care aides provide the bulk of direct care to residents in nursing homes.

It also said about 80 per cent of nursing home residents in Canada live with some level of cognitive impairment, which means their care needs are growing increasingly complex. 

The study found that 57.4 per cent of respondents missed at least one essential care task during their last shift, while 65.4 per cent reported rushing through at least one essential task. These tasks include taking residents for a walk, talking with residents, performing mouth care, bathing, feeding, dressing, taking residents to the bathroom, and preparing them for sleep. 

The TREC study found the most common missed task was taking residents for a walk, and the most frequently rushed task was talking with residents. Both of these tasks are associated with care quality and quality of life and can help prevent loneliness, boredom, and additional health issues. 

The study also found that care aides working in better conditions were less likely to miss or rush tasks, revealing that if work environments improved, so could patient care.