by Dane Henning, NAHCA Contributor

AdvoCAT is a group of CNAs and caregivers across the country that advocate not only for the profession, but for their residents and themselves. It is really unlike any other advocacy groups where it mostly focuses on legislation. This is also more of a Public Relations perspective as well to help provide a better public opinion on CNAs in nursing homes taking care of our elders.


I’m fairly confident that you would say that nursing homes have a fairly bad PR problem. So that’s really the main focus of the AdvoCAT Program is to help change the court of public opinion on the profession, on nursing homes; because you really can’t make any change when the public is against you. There’s no reason for them to be against you, but they see headlines all the time.

Lisa Sweet, the co-founder of NAHCA, produces a show on CNA-TV called CNA Heroes, where she has to search for days and days and days just to find some good news. When I gather news stories each week for Long Term Care News, also on CNA-TV, I have to search for days and days to find some good news. How are you supposed to fight that when everybody thinks, “Well you work in a nursing home, therefore you must be an evil human being”.

Those who are in legislation, people that we elect, whether it be on a federal level or state level or a city level, are citizens as well. So they have just about as much of an understanding as the general population would. So it’s very important to help their constituency understand that there are reasons why things are bad in nursing homes.

It is a small minority, and not the majority. The majority of all CNAs are great humans. They are very very caring and they work their tail off for almost no pay. And that’s really what we want to tell people, because nobody is really fighting back. Nobody’s saying, “that’s not who we are”. That’s not what a nursing home is. And more importantly, that’s not what a CNA is.

You are finding plenty of them, and yes I do understand that you’re fighting while being constantly neglected. Let me help you understand what a CNA really is, and that’s really what the AdvoCAT program really is about. It’s to help change the perspective that people have about CNAs, because we are a CNA association, but also long term care and taking care of the elderly population.

CNAs, it’s so important that the nation as a whole understands the true role you have, and how important you are.

We also need to start by being concerned about bringing more people into the profession, because our population is aging. The baby boomers are getting to the age where they need care. The future CNAs come to us because we are going to desperately, desperately, desperately need the help. Nobody is going to respect us, and so we HAVE to respect ourselves to make a difference. That’s just the way it is. And the only way that you can build self-respect is if you say, “NO THAT’S NOT ME. That’s not who I am, that’s not how my friends are. That’s not how my co-workers are. That’s not how my home is.

This is my house right here and these are my residents.

*For more information, email Dane Henning, or call 417-623-6049.