CAREGIVER BLOG - (CNA, STNA, PCA, HHA)

Posted: 11/5/2021 9:20:44 AM

Journaling for CNAs: More Than Just a Hobby



A nursing assistant’s day is never dull. If anything, it is full of surprises, challenges, and life lessons. A CNA will never run out of stories to tell, and what better way to eternalize a story than to put every detail into writing?

There are many reasons why it’s a grand idea to keep a work diary.

1. It is good for your health.

Writing journal entries regularly supports your mental and emotional wellness because it helps you pour out and process your feelings. It is like opening up to a therapist and then addressing the problem on your own.

When you write the details of a nerve-racking event, it makes you explore your experience. You’ll realize where the problem started and how things got out of hand. You’re also able to release tension. Therefore, it reduces stress.

Keeping a diary also improves your memory because you need to recall specific facts and then make a record.

2. It leads to self-awareness.

Journaling gives clarity to your thoughts and feelings. Every entry in your journal paints a picture of your personality, values, and coping skills. As you read earlier notes, you’ll get to know more about yourself. You will be able to determine your exact emotional triggers. You’ll also be able to look into your hopes and regrets.

3. It brings out the artistic side of you.

A journal can showcase your talent for telling stories and for expressing what’s on your mind. As a result, you also get to improve your creativity and writing skills. You can do journaling as a hobby or as a form of relaxation.

4. It lets you review past mistakes and near-misses.

You can also tell about an experience where you made an error or almost made one. This part is a crucial benefit of keeping a diary. You describe what happened, share your thoughts and feelings and then jot down your take on the situation. This process helps prevent similar mishaps from happening in the future.

5. You become more organized.

Making an entry in your journal allows you to organize your thoughts to tell a good story. You train yourself to become keen on details, too. Both effects are very helpful in tackling daily challenges as a CNA.

What can you write in your journal? If you're already thinking of starting a journal but are at a loss on how to start, have no fear! Your journal can contain random things, even doodles! Here are a few things that you can write about:

1. Your day-to-day experiences.

Unlike a patient's record that documents what procedures you've done for the day, a journal can contain subjective details such as your thoughts and feelings and your analysis of the situation.

2. Your reflections.

Reflection is the process of making sense of a past event, whether good or bad. You will need to recall every step that led to a situation, and then analyze the parts where things started to go wrong. Reflective journaling turns every experience into a learning process, which in turn leads to improvement.

3. Your insights.

Writing about your insights answers the question, "What do you think?" It is highly opinionated, but it helps in analyzing situations. Writing about your perspective of things helps in honing your critical thinking skills that are very relevant to patient care.

4. Your feelings.

In your journal, you can bare your feelings without fear of being criticized. You can write about your worries and hesitations, as well as your happy moments, too.

To help you get started, think of it as like writing a letter to a friend – with no holds barred. If you need help with structure, you can use some of these guide questions below:

1. What happened?
2. What did you do?
3. What happened after you helped out?
4. What did you feel?
5. What turned out okay and what didn’t?
6. How will this affect your job?

Journaling is a record of your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It is more than just a hobby. It helps in emotional regulation and, therefore, a part of self-improvement. It doesn’t matter if it is handwritten or typed. If you don't have a diary yet, now is an excellent time to have one.


Posted: 10/4/2021 3:06:51 PM

How to Ace Your Interview and Get That Dream Job



Graduating from nursing school is exciting. Looking forward to transferring to a big hospital is exhilarating. When you see yourself in this scenario, not a day passes without you daydreaming of your new job.

After handing in your resume, the most awaited day comes. You get a call from a prospective employer who gives you an interview schedule. Your nursing assistant career is about to start or level up. How prepared are you?

Job interviews are usually the end of a hiring process for pre-selected candidates. In the process, the manager and the CNA candidate exchange information. Managers would want to know more about you beyond your skills, attitude, and previous experience. They can also tell you more about their institution or agency.

Your interview is the door to your dream job, so here are things you would need to be successful.

1. Self-reflect.

Self-reflection is the process of seriously thinking about your motives, relevant experience, and skills that the hiring managers might be interested in. It helps prepare you mentally for what’s ahead. Make sure that you know the details of what you’ve written in your resume.

2. Get to know your employer or the institution.

Before the big day, get to know more about the institution or agency. What are they looking for in an employee? What vacancies are they trying to fill-in? What are their mission and vision? The best way to do this is to look up their website online and read some details about them.

If they posted an ad about their vacancies, go over it. Take note of what they’re looking for in a candidate. Use the terms in their ads (such as 'reliable' 'dependable' 'responsible') to describe yourself and your skills.

3. Prepare for possible interview questions.

Hiring managers would naturally want to get to know you beyond your resume. Typically, they'll ask why you want to be a nursing assistant and why you chose their institution. They'll also be interested to know about your strengths and weaknesses and how you'll handle stressful situations. They’ll likely create a scenario and ask you what you’d do in such a case.

Prepare answers beforehand and do an imaginary dry run of the interview. If you do this, you'll be surprised by how spontaneous you were during the interview.

4. Ensure that you have a good night’s rest the night before.

Nothing can spoil an interview better than a brain fog because of a lack of restful sleep. When you come to work sleepy or seemingly out-of-touch, you'll look disinterested or unfocused, which is a big red flag to employers. Adequate rest the evening before ensures that you are focused and alert during the interview.

5. Dress appropriately.

Remember that interviews are a way to market yourself. There is a reason why manufacturers put a lot of effort into their products' packaging. The outer appearance of a product must have the qualities for it to be purchased. So do you. You are the 'product', and the way you dress will create a lasting impression.

As a guide to help you choose the proper attire, here are some guide questions to ask yourself, "Do I look presentable, respectable, and professional?" "Would the HR personnel likely believe what I say?"

Wear comfortable clothes but not the homey comfy ones. No to sleeveless shirts, crop tops, shorts, or slippers. Refrain from wearing overpowering perfumes, too.

6. Arrive 10-15 minutes before your schedule.

Never be late for an interview. Be self-aware—the interview process begins as soon as you come in.

7. Be confident and communicate well.

Check the way you speak. Do you speak audibly and clearly? Can your English be understood easily? Are you sincere? Your tone, demeanor, gestures will give you away, and the hiring manager will know if you're nervous or unsure.

8. Take cues from your interviewer.

Although there are general rules to acing interviews, such as showing a positive attitude, it's still best to get hints from your interviewer. Match the way they speak.

9. Market yourself well.

Talk about flexibility, teamwork, compassion, and your willingness to learn. Never bad-mouth your past employers as this raises the likelihood of you doing the same to them in the future. Refrain from telling stories that are not relevant to the matter at hand. Don't bring up the topic of your salary unless the HR personnel asks first.

10. Ask relevant questions when prompted.

Towards the end of the interview, the hiring manager usually asks if you have any questions for them. Most candidates say no, thinking that it's a sign that they understood everything clearly. But this is not so.

Asking relevant questions means that you are very much interested and really into getting hired. You can ask simple questions like, "When do you expect to fill this position?" or “What is a typical day or week like for CNAs here?”

You may also attempt to ask more profound questions such as, “What opportunities are there for career growth?” or “how does the management support their employees’ growth?”

Acing a job interview for CNAs and getting hired is truly a dream come true for CNAs. The key to being successful is to prepare adequately before the big day.


Posted: 9/17/2021 1:33:42 PM

Signs that Your Work Environment is Toxic



All workers dream of a workplace where they can thrive, grow, and achieve. Nursing assistants are no different. But sadly, this is not always the case in the healthcare industry. We know that a healthy work environment can significantly improve productivity and that it can enrich staff experience. It can also increase overall satisfaction with one's career. But with toxic work culture, the opposite happens.

Working as a nursing assistant who has endless tasks of caring for patients is hard enough. And with a stifling environment, it becomes doubly difficult to cope.

What are the signs that tell you that your workplace culture needs improvement?

1. Bullying is rampant.

It’s either that you've fallen victim to it or witnessed someone belittling a co-worker. Bullies harass their colleagues verbally or physically. Aggression like this always kills morale.

When you encounter a bully, you tend to become overly anxious. You feel like you're always under scrutiny. Unknowingly, you shift your focus away from your patients to your personal dilemma. You also become prone to making mistakes. You drag yourself to work, each time with that dreadful feeling that they’ll do it again.

2. Co-workers gossip and spread rumors.

Going to work while knowing that your private life is the talk of the town is nerve-wracking. Gossiping is a sign of disrespect and can ruin interpersonal relationships. Without a healthy relationship among the staff, teamwork fails, and patient goals suffer.

3. No Voice.

CNAs are bedside staff, and in a toxic work environment, they feel that communication with the higher-ups is one-way. The management gives the orders, and the CNAs only follow. Feedback from the staff is not welcome.

When employees have no way to reach out to their managers, they tend to keep grudges and hold resentments. In the long run, it leads to emotional drain and lack of motivation to work. When most of the staff feel this way, they perform poorly.

4. High turnover.

Due to the physically and emotionally demanding nature of a nursing assistant’s work, many quit their jobs for good. High turnover usually happens because of not just one problem but of many factors. If you notice that employees come and go, it's a red flag that many things in that workplace are messed up.

5. Constant negativity.

A lack of positivity in the workplace is a major issue that can have a devastating effect on employee morale and efficiency. It decreases motivation. It's hard to achieve patient goals when you’re convinced that every effort will fail anyway.

6. Biased and unfair treatment.

Policies are often laid out for staff to follow regardless of rank and status, but unfortunately, there are times when some individuals get away with breaking the rules. Unfair treatment in the workplace makes staff resentful as well as lose their trust in the system. It dampens the nursing spirit.

7. Overly demanding workload.

Another sign of a toxic environment is a lack of staff. What happens when one person does the job of two or three? There is no room for quality work and CNA-patient relationship, only tasks. To thrive, nursing assistants need to feel the human connection with others in the workplace, patients included.

Also, if the staff complains of no life-work balance, it means that they are stressed and burnt out. When burnout sets in, workers can suffer physical and emotional harm. They fail to contribute to achieving patient goals.

If you think your workplace is less than ideal, do not lose hope. Don't give up! All is not lost. With the right mindset and attitude, you can still win over a toxic environment.

Seek the cooperation of your co-workers. Be the change for others and create your own voice through your dedication. And even if this impact is far from being achieved, you need not abandon your passion for serving others as a CNA. If all else fails, you can go and find another workplace where you can be valued and recognized for the gem that you are.


Posted: 8/19/2021 3:17:49 PM

Safety Precautions That CNAs Can’t Do Without



Every worker is exposed to some form of hazards while on their job. For nursing assistants, however, the risk for injuries is higher than in most occupations.

The physical and emotional demands of the job expose CNAs to many types of dangers. They are likely to get injured as they help patients with their daily activities, such as bathing, toileting, walking, and moving around. Often they have to deal with difficult patients and co-workers who are prone to being verbally and physically abusive. Also, CNAs usually handle different toxic chemicals that can be potentially harmful.

With these hazards in mind, nursing assistants like you must always protect themselves by following some basic safety precautions below:

1. Infection control protocols.

CNAs are at risk of getting an infection at work because they care for patients with infectious diseases. As a general precaution, health workers are required to perform hand hygiene before and after any care procedure. With proper handwashing or the correct use of hand sanitizers, you break the chain of infection and prevent the spread of microorganisms that could make you or other patients ill.

You can further protect yourself by using personal protective equipment or PPE as needed. PPE act as barriers to prevent contact with harmful organisms and therefore prevent transmitting diseases.

Gloves, for example, shields against blood-borne diseases. It covers any open wound you may have on your hands when there’s a chance of exposure to the patient’s body fluids such as blood, urine, and feces. This PPE is also required when handling contaminated equipment or a patient’s sample for laboratory procedures.

Masks are PPE that protect against respiratory diseases and from accidental splashes of the patient’s body fluids. When you wear a mask, be sure to throw it away properly after use.

Disposable plastic aprons and gowns, on the other hand, protect your scrubs from soiling. You must wear one when caring for patients with extensive skin conditions, such as burns. Contaminated scrubs are a source of infection, so the staff wear gowns whenever necessary.

2. Proper body mechanics.

One of the basic safety precautions for CNAs is practicing correct posture or movement to prevent injuries while performing strenuous procedures. Many CNAs hurt their backs or suffer muscle and joint injuries because they fail to follow proper body mechanics. As you work, keep in mind the following:

a. Always stand with your feet slightly apart. This stance will give you the best balance.
b. Bend your knees instead of your waist when lifting or when picking something up from the floor. Your legs can support your upper body when you carry something heavy and prevent you from injuring your back.
c. Avoid sudden twists by moving your body as a unit. Make a full turn to the side instead of twisting your body. This technique protects your back muscles and hip joints from injury.
d. Perform procedures as close to the patient as possible. Avoid bending over to reach for an area. Keep the bed at your hip level when performing a procedure because this is the most comfortable way to work.

3. Use of assistive devices and equipment.

Many devices and pieces of equipment are designed specifically to make healthcare workers do their job easier. An example is a mechanical or an electric lifter. When available, this equipment transfers patients from the bed to a chair or vice versa. Utilize it to save your energy and to prevent the risk of injury from heavy lifting.

In a similar situation, use a draw sheet to move patients in bed. Draw sheets help shift the patient as a unit without having to lift or drag them.

If a patient is weak or unstable, utilize a wheelchair when moving them from one place to another. This technique prevents both you and your patient from falling over.

Another creative way to avoid the hazards of carrying heavy stuff is to put supplies on a trolley or a cart. Other than preventing unnecessary strain on your body, these transporting equipments save you several trips, too.

4. Emergency safety procedures.

CNAs must be alert to possible emergencies such as fire, earthquakes, and the like. Agencies have protocols for these, and you must be prepared to react appropriately to keep you and others unharmed should such a situation happen.

A basic rule is not allowing smoking or lighting a match when oxygen is in use. Another tip is to drop cover and hold when you sense an earthquake.

5. Handle chemicals with care.

Nursing assistants are exposed to many potentially toxic substances in their line of work. They use disinfectants and cleansers that have a beneficial purpose but can be dangerous when incorrectly handled. Wear gloves when necessary. Read and follow the instructions on the product label. Avoid mixing chemicals because they create toxic fumes or harm you in many ways.

Keeping yourself from dangers at all times is one way to have a rewarding experience as a CNA. Workplace hazards need not ruin your career if you are always ready to follow safety protocols.


Posted: 8/12/2021 7:35:08 PM

Maintaining Healthy Personal Relationships Amidst a High-Stress Job



Healthy relationships outside of work are a vital element of health and overall wellbeing. There are compelling shreds of evidence that having a positive relationship with family and friends leads to a happy and fulfilled life. But for people who hold high-stress jobs such as nursing assistants, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Such as the case of Emma, a CNA who’s been on the job for almost a year. Emma is having a hard time shaking off job-related stress. At work, she cares for 15 dependent nursing home residents. Recently, she finds herself on her supervisor’s ‘watchlist' and the negative attention she got from her superior has drained her emotionally.

At the end of her shift, Emma goes home exhausted, depressed, and irritable. Her husband and children reach out to her and try to support her, but she sulks and becomes uncommunicative.

Emma is just one of the many nursing assistants who have a high risk for burnout. CNAs are highly vulnerable to the stresses brought about by the job. Burnout has numerous negative effects, one of which is strained personal relationships.

If you find yourself in the same spot as Emma, here’s what you can do to keep your loved ones close to your heart:

1. Leave your job-related problems at work.

When you deal with a lot of pressure at your workplace, it is often tough to go home to your family with a clear mind and a positive vibe. Most of the time, there is a spillover of your stressful day to your personal life.

Bad workdays do result in bad personal relationships! But you know what? One of the best (and difficult!) ways to avoid spreading the tension is to consciously take your mind off your worries on your way home and then prepare mentally to focus on your family. It takes a lot of practice to do this, but it is certainly doable.

You can tell your family and friends how you feel but limit what information to share with them. Constant stress talk drags your loved ones into your pool of misery. In the long run, everyone around you will experience the same stress. And we all know how this will usually turn out: ruined relationships.

Keep in mind that people typically avoid being overwhelmed with the problems of others as they already are dealing with challenges of their own.

2. Cut your problems from their source.

Unless you address the root cause of your problems at work, you'll likely take them home with you or bring them to your social circle. Go over your tasks mentally and find creative ways to manage your time more efficiently. Also, look into teamwork as a possible solution.

3. Maintain the emotional connection, especially with your spouse or partner.

Stress sometimes can get the better of you. You tend to shun others away and self-destruct with repeated thoughts of failures. Your suffering could unintentionally break the emotional connection between you and your loved one.

Your partner may also become distant as a way to cope with the strain. To prevent this consequence, remind yourself that the relationship is not just about you. Get involved with what’s happening to your partner. Show interest in what's going on with their everyday life. Thank them for being there and for everything else. Also, do not make them feel responsible for your misery.

4. Keep communication lines open.

Communication should be two-way. There must be time for you to listen and understand, too. Be specific with your needs and avoid making them guess how you feel. Avoid passing judgment.

When you deal with relationship issues, focus on your feelings rather than zeroing in on your partner's mistakes. Say, "I felt ignored when you keep telling me we'll talk later," rather than saying, "You always ignore me and make me feel miserable."

5. Spend quality time with your family and friends.

The world as we know it today makes it more difficult to gather as a group and share wonderful memories.

Commit to spending a great time with your loved ones regularly. Put aside your phones when you’re together and be there in that moment. Find something fun to do - a picnic, a walk in the park, a movie at home… whatever activity that can bring you closer.

Spending quality time with others also helps you unwind and recharge.

6. Invest in healthy stress-busters.

There are many ways to de-stress healthily, and you can spend time and money on these activities to help you cope. You can do this with your family and friends, too, to make the activities more purposeful. You can try hitting the gym together. Reward yourself with your favorite dessert. Work on a hobby.

For as long as you are working as a CNA, your job would most likely be demanding. Keeping your family and friends close will probably be challenging, too. But by looking after yourself and giving time and proper attention to your loved ones, you can achieve a healthy work-life balance and cherish personal relationships as well.


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