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CAREGIVER BLOG - (CNA, STNA, PCA, HHA)
Posted: 9/22/2017 2:25:29 PM
Procrastination: One of the CNA’s Biggest Regrets
If there would be a list of the busiest workers in healthcare today, Certified Nursing Assistants will definitely vie for the number one spot. If there would be a list of the staff who gives the most physical exertion on the job, the CNA, again, will grab first place.
Undoubtedly, the nursing assistant’s job is a tough one, but it should never be an excuse for procrastination. What is procrastination? Procrastination is an act of delaying or putting off for later tasks that are supposed to be done at present.
There are many reasons why CNAs procrastinate. One reason is that they may be tired so they try to postpone heavier workloads toward the end of the shift. Another reason is that they think that the task is unimportant or unpleasant and so they do it at the last minute. Perhaps, to some, nursing assistants just like to work under pressure.
Whatever the reason, the CNA should understand the dangers of procrastination to avoid being in a situation that they may regret someday. Below are some reasons why delaying care procedures should be a no-no at work:
1. PROCRASTINATION CAUSES STRESS
Cramming tasks toward the end of the shift causes undue stress. Stress negatively affects many other things, such as the CNA’s health and their relationship with other members of the healthcare team. It causes fatigue, which in turn, makes them irritable when they interact with other people.
2. PROCRASTINATION LEADS TO POOR PERFORMANCE
Procrastination is a sign that your performance at work is poor. You lose your priorities, and the important care procedures are left undone.
3. PROCRASTINATION BECOMES A HABIT
Procrastination may start simply as extending a coffee break or browsing social media during work hours. After a while, you may find yourself spending more time doing unproductive work during your shift and then rushing at the end of the day to get all things done. Unknowingly, you carry this habit outside work into your family and other social relationships, making you lose focus on the more important things in life.
4. YOU MAY FORGET TO ACCOMPLISH A TASK ALTOGETHER
“I’ll do it later” may unintentionally become “I’ll do it never.” Postponing a task will make you forget it in all the haste happening toward the end of the day. This mistake of not being able to perform a step for patient care is called missed nursing care. Another important responsibility that CNAs usually forget to do because of procrastination is documenting important details in the patient’s records. Remember, that if you forget to write it down, the task is automatically considered not done.
5. YOU WILL BE PRONE TO MAKING ERRORS
Rushing things and getting stressed as a result of procrastination make up the perfect recipe for medical errors. You may write incomplete data, enter the wrong data on the patient's records, or write details on the wrong record. Making mistakes as a CNA has serious consequences which can cause you to lose your license to work, your job, and your freedom, when you have to answer to legal issues.
6. YOU ENDANGER THE PATIENT’S LIFE
Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of procrastination is injury or harm to the patient as a result of medical errors. You delayed taking a patient’s vital signs, for example, and the patient suffered a stroke. The complication happened because you missed the chance of knowing that a patient’s blood pressure has gone up. Scenarios like this become too familiar when you keep putting off doing care procedures to a later time.
As nursing assistants, it might be tempting to delay a task for some reasons. But remember that procrastination is a temporary escape that gets you entangled in a much bigger mess in the long run. It is therefore wise to finish your work in the assigned time to prevent you from losing your job or causing harm to the patient.
Posted: 9/15/2017 10:23:49 AM
How to Say it Loud and Clear to the Healthcare Team
Nursing assistants are a special part of the healthcare team because they spend the most time with the patient. Communicating with other members of the team is, therefore, a very crucial responsibility of the CNA.
Did you know that the most common cause of medical errors is faulty communication? According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), failures in communication that result in these errors can be verbal or written, and they happen in all healthcare settings and involve all types of workers. CNAs must keep in mind that to be a safe care worker, they must know how to ‘say it loud, clear, and prompt.’
What is the right way to communicate with the rest of the healthcare team?
1. MAKE SURE IT IS A TWO WAY CONVERSATION.
A famous quote about communication is “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” In healthcare, especially in very busy settings, it is easy to assume that you have been heard and understood. But that is not always the case as AHRQ findings tell us. Two-way communication is the key to ensuring that the message sent is received and acknowledged. A good way to demonstrate this is to repeat what you think was said to you. For example, the nurse says, “We need to turn the patient to her side every two hours.” As a CNA, nodding one’s head or saying “ok” sometimes does not make it. Instead of reacting this way, the CNA may alternatively say, "We will turn the patient next at 10 am and every two hours after."
2. TIMELINESS SAVES THE DAY AND THE PATIENT.
How important is saying something promptly? As important as a patient’s life! Consider this scenario: A CNA noticed a change in the patient’s blood pressure reading but didn't report it immediately because the patient was ‘looking all right.’ The patient's status worsened, and the healthcare team starts the blame game. This is bad news for everyone. Communicating your findings immediately to the healthcare team will ensure patient safety and prevents conflicts arising from medical errors.
3. BE CLEAR AS DAY WITH NO GRAY AREAS.
Communication with other members of the healthcare team must be clear at all times. To be clear, a CNA has to be accurate with the details. One important thing to remember is to never refer to a patient using their bed or room number. When reporting a patient condition, it is always encouraged to give descriptions and other objective details, so instead of saying, “The patient is breathing differently,” say “the patient is breathing faster and more heavily than he was four hours ago. His respiratory rate is 25.”
4. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR TONE. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT’S HOW YOU SAY IT.
Patient care can be tiring, and everyone on the team could be fatigued and cranky. A conflict between members is the last thing you would need in a high-pressure environment. Speak kindly and with respect, and you will be treated the same way.
5. SILENCE IS COMMUNICATION ONLY WHEN IT IS TIME TO LISTEN.
Not all communication is about sending out a message. Half of it is actually about receiving the message. To be able to understand the message, it's important to be silent and listen attentively to make sure that you have captured all the details being said to you and that the message has not been misinterpreted by you. Sometimes this happens when a nurse is saying a lot of things in a given conversation. Keep calm and make notes.
Communication can either make or break a day in a CNA’s life at work. Remember that those who have championed at being a good communicator will reap the rewards of enjoying one’s role as a nursing assistant.
Posted: 9/8/2017 11:44:55 AM
Soft Skills That Will Make You a Superior Nursing Assistant
You have finished the CNA training in your state, and you just passed the Certified Nursing Assistant Exam. There are many work opportunities waiting to be filled, and the future is looking bright. You probably tell yourself, "This is it… Brace yourself."
But not too fast. Other than your training and your license, you would need to know other important things to be able to start your career right, such as soft skills. Soft skills are attributes that are necessary to interact and socialize with others effectively. In contrast to hard skills, which are technical know-hows required to perform a particular job, soft skills are abilities that can be used in many different settings other than the job.
Be sure to improve these soft skills and prep yourself to tackle the daily challenges of being a nursing assistant:
- EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS. This ability tops our list because, of all aspects of providing care, communication is the key ingredient to efficiently interact with other members of the health team as well as to successfully improve a patient's health. It is also the best solution for preventing medical errors and patient injuries while giving care. For verbal communication to be efficient, it should be clear and two-way, always giving feedback if the message was correctly understood. There should not be any gray areas. Written communication, such as that is used in reporting and documenting, must be clear and accurate.
- SHARP OBSERVATION SKILLS. CNAs spend most of their time at the bedside. Usually, they are the ones who spot the slightest change in a patient’s condition, even if their medical knowledge is not as extensive as the nurse or the doctor. Seeing a patient breathe differently, or observing that a patient has become suddenly confused, and reporting these observations, for example, are life-saving acts that a CNA could do.
-BEING A TEAM PLAYER. In doing bedside care, hardly anything will be accomplished if there is no team effort. Working with a team multiplies successes and learning. It also reduces the possibility of errors. As a nursing assistant, it will be your duty to work well with other staff, most especially the nurse on duty during your shift.
-PRIORITIZATION AND ORGANIZATION ABILITIES. If you have mastered these skills, you will find the rewards of being a CNA because they will make you finish a work day without looking so beat up and haggard from all the running, lifting, and doing overtime because of unfinished tasks. You will also have your breaks on time and have that much needed meal and rest that will re-energize you to finish your shift.
-COMPASSION. Being in a caring profession as a certified nursing assistant requires you to have compassion, the most basic attribute where you can put yourself in the patient's situation and be able to see them holistically as a person while meeting their health needs. It is never just about completing all necessary tasks. Patients resent health workers who are just concentrating on finishing their shift without much regard to the person they care for. Without compassion, a CNA would not be able to get the patient’s participation in their care, and the objectives for the day will be left unmet.
BEING SAFETY ORIENTED. Even before health can be improved, the safety of the patients, as well as that of healthcare workers, is of utmost importance. Keeping safety in mind at all times will prevent many potential errors and patient harm. On the practical side, it will also save you from lawsuits.
Soft skills are necessary to be able to perform your best as a CNA. More importantly, ensuring that you have these skills as you go about your day-to-day job will ultimately jumpstart your career and make you a better nursing assistant in the process. They will also serve as your ticket to having a future career upgrade as well.
Posted: 9/1/2017 10:23:32 AM
Are You Exhausted?
What's a day in a CNA's work like? Ask any CNA this question, and you will need hours of active listening before they finish recounting what usually happens at work. It will surely be a story of several niches: a race for time, the wars and the common battleground, superhuman strengths and feats, the emotional roller coaster, treasure hunts (yes, like when an equipment has gone missing), and detective work (like when an older patient with Alzheimer's disease forgot where they put their ‘most favorite thing in the world’. To a nursing assistant, especially those who are new to the job, these everyday hurdles can become overwhelming.
What happens when you find yourself needing to catch up on sleep every day after work? What about feeling physically overworked and emotionally drained as a CNA? If there is one word to describe a nurse assistant’s everyday challenge, it is F-A-T-I-G-U-E.
What is fatigue? Fatigue is the feeling of tiredness, weariness or exhaustion. Here is a checklist of the signs and symptoms of fatigue and see how many of these pertain to you:
- lack of adequate rest and sleep
- too much or prolonged physical exertion
- prolonged emotional exhaustion
- low energy
- poor performance at work
- decreased focus and attention
- prone to making mistakes
If you answered yes to all or most of the items in the list, then take a look at these risk factors, and again see which happens to you:
- working overtime most of the time (or always?)
- frequently working ‘on-call’ apart from your regular working schedule
- working two consecutive shifts
- working with less than 10 hours between shifts
- working without breaks
- working even if sick or feeling unwell
- constantly dealing with conflicts and aggression in the workplace
- feeling sleepy at work
All the above may happen to anyone at any time, but the main consideration here is how much and how long these are experienced.
Fatigue in nursing assistants affects not only themselves but also their co-workers and their patients. Patient injury and other errors that result from working beyond exhaustion are serious consequences of CNA fatigue because human lives are put in danger. Before everything falls out of place because of weariness, check out and follow these tips:
KEEP PHYSICALLY FIT. Load up with healthy foods. If you work the day shift, your breakfast should super-charge you. Include carbohydrates, protein, and fiber in your diet to give you energy until your break. Do not forget to hydrate yourself while at work.
PRACTICE PROPER BODY MECHANICS. Use equipment that will make your workload easier. Invest in a good pair of shoes. Develop a system that is efficient and time-saving. These strategies will prevent body aches and pain brought about by too much physical exertion.
2. If prevention doesn’t quite make it, and you feel fatigued because of extraordinary circumstances, then focus on recovery.
Being a nursing assistant working in a fast-paced environment, it is common to experience the above factors. The idea is to recover fast. Maintain the strategies for prevention and include these tips below to get back on your feet in no time.
- DO NOT SKIP A BREAK OR A MEAL. If you find this impossible, you have to team up with a co-worker and make it possible for both of you. Use your break to take a power nap and to eat healthily.
- PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING AND DO STRETCHING EXERCISES. You need to get your body pumped up with oxygen and your blood circulating properly.
- DETERMINE IF YOU NEED A CHANGE OF SHIFT. The bulk of work is in the morning shift. The afternoon shift lasts until late at night. The evening shift has the least workload, but it can disrupt your body rhythm. If you think you are better off working another shift, make a request.
- TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE. Use this time to unwind and to connect with family and friends. Use the bulk of this precious time to have adequate sleep, rest, and relaxation. Do not oversleep as this is counterproductive. Also, getting a good body massage can rejuvenate tired muscles.
As a healthcare worker, your service as a CNA is very significant. Your health is of utmost importance, and your patient’s safety is a priority. Do not let fatigue get the better of you.
Posted: 8/28/2017 9:20:12 AM
A CNA’s Important Role in Spreading the Word About Vaccines
Nursing assistants are in the frontline of patient care. Sometimes they encounter patients or the patient’s family who refuse vaccinations. Although CNAs could not administer most vaccines, it is within their role to promote immunizations and their immense benefits.
The campaign against vaccines is gaining wider support online and is one of the primary reasons why people refuse to vaccinate and why vaccine-preventable diseases are on the rise.
A study done in 2011 claims that there are parents who do not follow the immunization schedule or do not allow their children to be immunized. The study found that the parents were worried about the safety of the ‘ingredients’ of the vaccines. Some parents were against giving several vaccines on the same day. Others did not believe that the vaccines are effective or that the diseases they are supposed to prevent are that serious.
There are also a large number of adults who are currently unvaccinated. According to a survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, only 43% of people aged 19 and above received the annual flu vaccine. Only one out of five adults had received the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, and again, one out of five of those who are supposed to receive the pneumococcal vaccine received it. Also, of the older population (60 years old and above) only 28% received the shingles vaccine.
These scenarios paint a clear picture of the future. The number of the highly contagious infections these immunizations are supposed to prevent will be rising in the years to come, and those who are too weak to fight infections, as well as the unvaccinated, will be at risk.
So what’s a CNA supposed to do when they encounter such situations where people hesitate or refuse vaccinations while assisting the nurse during an immunization program? Is it time to hit the panic button?
When coming across people who are openly against being immunized, the first thing to remember is to remain calm and show respect. Nursing assistants have to remember that everyone has the right to have their own opinion. Next, they have to educate themselves about immunizations and seek reliable information from trusted sources such as government agencies and health institutions. They can learn the basics, such as which vaccine is given at a certain age. When confronted with why there is a need to vaccinate, nursing assistants can explain that if vaccination rates decrease, then the number of those who get the diseases will increase in return.
The CNA can also inform parents and other people that the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are well-backed by many scientific studies and that the risk of side effects are really small. Vaccines protect individuals against certain highly contagious diseases that may have grave consequences if they get infected with them. Being protected also helps safeguard people who are too weak to fight infections, such as the newborn, the elderly, and the sick.
If in case that there is a need for more detailed information regarding immunization programs, CNAs can always ask the help of the nurse or the physician who can provide further health education regarding the vaccines and the diseases they intend to prevent.
Lastly, nursing assistants should not only promote immunization, they should also ‘walk their talk' meaning that they should always be up to date on getting their own immunizations. CNAs should keep in mind that as healthcare workers, they are constantly exposed to different micro-organisms that cause infections, and, therefore, being updated in all recommended immunizations is one way of protecting themselves, their loved ones, and those they care for, in an indirect way.
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