The health care aide position in nursing homes: A comparative survey of nurses’ and aides’ perceptions

Leehu Zysberg, Tova Band-Winterstein, Issi Doron, Ksenya Shulyaev, Elena O. Siegel, Dorota Kornas-Biela, Anna Zisberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The health care aide position embodies one of the most basic paradoxes of long-term care for older adults: those who have the most contact and most intensive interaction with nursing-home residents are also those having the least training, authority, and status within the system. They therefore hold one of the keys to quality care in many settings, especially nursing homes. In the absence of agreement on the position's roles, responsibilities, and authority, it is important to examine how the position is perceived by the key members in the long-term-care framework. Objectives: The current study examined and compared health care aides’ and nurses’ perceptions of the position in nursing-home settings in Israel, using a standardized tool developed for this inquiry. The comparison accounted for potential intervening factors that may help better understand the job requirements and boundaries. Design: A comparative survey design. Settings: 30 nursing homes (of at least 20 beds) in northern Israel. Participants: We used convenience sampling to recruit 369 health care aides and 261 nurses (a total of 630 participants). Methods: The main instrument of data collection was specially designed and validated for this study. It was based on a qualitative study that defined basic content units representing tasks importance, knowledge, and personal characteristics for the job. Results: Participants found it difficult to prioritize the job components or to differentiate between core tasks and characteristics and the secondary aspects of their job. General care, profession-specific knowledge, and emotional abilities were endorsed the most by participants. Cleaning, communication, and safety were ranked lower (although rankings were still considerably high). However, previous experience as a health care aide undermined incumbents’ perceptions of their own responsibilities and professionalism. Incumbent health care aides rated most factors higher than nurses did, with the exception of the importance of communication. Conclusion: Our results may help decision makers understand the complexity around the health care aide position, manage and develop it more effectively while setting standards (training and certification, performance appraisal, and more) for professionalization processes and better defining the division of nursing work between health care aides and nurses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Aged
  • Intersectoral collaboration
  • Nurses’ aides
  • Nursing
  • Nursing homes
  • Standard of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (all)


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