The Nursing Home CNA

Over the years I have seen many selfless acts performed by those that have so little to give. This post is in honor of the noble certified nurse aide, CNA.

I normally work 2pm-10pm on call C

I am pulling an extra shift on the 6am-2pm shift and on a different hall. I am unfamiliar with the CNA staff and residents. It’s going to be a stressful day; in general, we are running short on staff. I have looked everywhere for Mrs. Smith to give her allergy eye drops. Standing outside the shower room door, I can hear water running. I knock; wait for an answer, and then I pop my head in. I ask the CNA if she has seen Mrs. Smith.

 Here is what I see in the shower room.
 The water is running in an empty stall on full hot to warm up the room, in the sink is bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hair mouse, body powder, a couple of bottles of body sprays, and scented lotions (all purchased with the CNA’s personal money and purchased on her own time from Wal-Mart) The resident in the shower room is smiling, and her face and body language appear relaxed. I introduce myself, (I am the guest here) and I ask her how she is doing. She replies that she is doing “alright” with a gently nod of yes and a broad smile.
This is just example of the generosity I see daily in a traditional nursing home from CNA staff.  It is a common site at shift change to see the CNA staff walk through the front doors carrying 2 bags of Wal-Mart products for the residents they are assigned to.

Income In 2008, the average hourly earnings of Texas CNAs was $10.07. This is before they pay taxes and social security, and health insurance

Texas CNAs earn an average of $20,940 per year.

I am always blown away when I see them carting in gifts for their residents, I have seen clothes, blankets, shoes, hats, and beauty products all purchased from the CNA to give to their residents. This is on a daily basis, the gifts increase around birthdays and holidays. 
 (Mostly candy and lipstick)

My job as a floor nurse would be impossible it wasn't for the generosity and help of the noble CNA.

The extra touch the CNA gives daily
Some of the following are state regulations but it is still up to the CNA to make it a pleasant experience

Gently wakes the resident and allows them time to wake up before pushing them out of their room for breakfast.
Gives choices on what the resident wants to wear based on the activities of the day and weather. Sometimes this takes half an hour. The CNA will have to speed walk from room to room and have their supplies beyond organized to make up for this lost time.
The CNA knows which resident needs extra care in order to feel respectable in public such as room 109 likes to wear cosmetics, room 113 likes her hair braided, and room 121 needs extra help with his morning shave.
I have seen CNAs who knew which residents are early risers and ensure they are up and dressed for their first cup of coffee.
A CNA is more than an assistant to the nurse, they are the personal assistant to the residents, the care they give is compared to a modern Upstairs Downstairs and work staff on Downton Abbey

The CNA organize the room, give baths, assist with dressing and undressing, and lend a hand with bedtime routines. They spoon feed the resident who needs support with dinning.
While the nurse is monitoring medication application, answer the phones, calling the doctors, faxing lab results, pushing a heavy med cart, and answering questions from family members, the CNA is the hands on interpersonal touch to the resident. The CNA is the one who makes sure your loved one is made aware of parties and activities, gives a hand with transportation, and ensures that no one is left out of the activity.

The next time you’re in a traditional nursing home, learn the name of the CNA caring for your loved one, and when you are lucky enough to have aged a long time, and are ready for a nursing home lifestyle, adopt your CNA staff as family and treat them with love and care and you will get triple the love back from the noble CNA.

Till next month, Nurse Kimmy

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