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Racism Runs Rampant in Nursing Homes, Study Shows

Foreign-Born CNAs Get the Brunt of Bigotry
 
Nearly 75 percent of nurse's aides, or CNAs, working in nursing homes experience racism on the job, according to a Northwestern University study (www.northwestern.edu). Racism was expressed by residents, their families, and co-workers. "Remedial attention is called for, and strategies for dealing with diversity in nursing homes are needed," said Celia Berdes, assistant professor of medicine and the study's author.
 
Foreign-born aides - not African-American aides - were more likely to experience on-the-job racism. Racial remarks were even made toward immigrant CNAs by residents of the same race; for example, an elderly white resident would make slurs toward Caucasian workers who were foreign-born.
 
One-third of the nursing home residents in the study showed prejudicial attitudes, which took on two forms: either they used language that is not acceptable today but didn't intend to be offensive; or its opposite form, language meant to be derogatory.   (The aides excused slurs from mentally incompetent residents.)
 
Few Minority Residents
 
Nursing home residents are predominantly white, while minorities are over-represented in CNA jobs. The high proportion of white residents is often explained by the fact that many nursing homes were founded and are still managed by European immigrant societies or religious organization to assist members of those groups. 
 
But a form of discrimination is also in effect when the ethnic or religious sponsorship of long-term care facilities discourages admissions of people who are not members of that group, called de facto separation.  African-Americans use nursing homes half as often as whites due to a cultural preference for home care, but also because of de facto separation and limited Medicaid spaces.

By Adam Herschkowitz
Get CNA Jobs, Contributing Editor

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