The National Association of Health Care Assistants was formally established in 1995 by former Certified Nursing Assistants Lori Porter and Lisa Sweet. Lori’s career started as a dietary aide. Then she became a Certified Nursing Assistant and ultimately she became a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. She shares that one of her greatest motivations for becoming an administrator was so she could better affect the lives of CNAs and other caregivers with the same scope of care. Lisa’s journey started when she shared with her grandmother that she wanted to become a nurse. Her grandmother gave her important advice, “To be a great nurse you need to be a CNA first.” Lisa’s experiences as a CNA had a profound impact. Based upon their experiences, they embraced the idea that nursing assistants are the backbone, heart and soul of long term care. “Our life’s work is built around enhancing the professional standing of Certified Nursing Assistants, (CNAs) and other caregivers who may have different titles and still work closely with our nations’ frail, elderly and disabled citizens. Our Association strives to create recognition, education, advocacy and motivation for the nearly 1.4 million people who care for the Greatest Generation. We invite you to continue your professional journey with us at NAHCA.”
With these beliefs in mind, the Co-Founders set out to establish the association. Their intent is to:
- Enhance quality of life and care for frail, elderly and disabled people.
- Enhance the professional standing of Certified Nursing Assistants and other similarly credentialed caregivers through; recognition, education, advocacy and motivation.
- Form strong relationship with the other professionals within the long term care system.
NAHCA took root in southern Missouri. Meetings, conferences and banquets were held in a church basement during the early years. Over time, through hard work, dedication and perseverance, the association grew.
Today, the association has a membership of more than 26,000 caregivers, representing over 500 nursing homes in 29 states and the District of Columbia. It provides recognition for outstanding achievements, development training for caregivers, mentoring programs to reduce CNA turnover, and advocacy for issues important to long term care and caregivers. The organization has entered the legislative arena, providing testimony on staffing in long term care before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.