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

Posted: 10/21/2019 2:10:58 PM

A CNA is a Nurse’s Indispensable Partner

Nurses have a lot on their plates, often tasked with doing more critical thinking, patient assessments, and evaluations than they may be able to handle in a day. It is not uncommon for them to think, “Hey, I only have one pair of hands, and they’re full!” That’s true. Nurses can take on only so many responsibilities each day, and help is badly needed for them to be able to survive each shift in one piece!



It is in these situations that the importance of a nursing assistant's job becomes obvious: to be the nurse’s extra pair of hands, eyes, and ears, because CNAs spend the most time at the bedside. Nursing assistants work closely with nurses when it comes to patient care, so establishing a good working relationship with each nurse is the best way to achieve care goals.

Picture this scenario:

A nurse wants to monitor a patient’s condition and ensure that they are turned every two hours to prevent them from developing bed sores. But they cannot stay longer at the patient’s bedside because another patient needs more urgent attention. So, the nurse tells the CNA to take the patient’s vital signs and observe and report if they see any changes in their condition. The CNA measured the vital signs, kept the nurse updated with the patient’s status, and repositioned the patient every two hours. The nurse had left “a pair of hands, eyes, and ears” at the patient’s bedside, through the mindfulness of the CNA.

The perfect Nurse-CNA team has one mind and several hands to do the job. The nursing assistant’s main responsibility is to take on simpler tasks from the nurse while being in constant communication with them. The role can take many forms, but may center mostly on assisting clients in performing ADLs or Activities of Daily Living, keeping the environment and equipment clean, transferring and transporting clients, and ensuring that the stockroom has enough supplies.

These tasks are a challenge by themselves, so imagine a nurse’s life without CNAs! Without nursing assistants by the bedside, any nurse would be out the door, considering the overwhelming fatigue and impossible deadlines. CNAs are indispensable to RNs, so every nursing assistant should take pride in their work and maintain a harmonious relationship with their nurses, as they are a team.

To be part of a team, CNAs must be able to communicate and collaborate well. To communicate means to send a clear message, understand what is being said, and then give an appropriate reply. Collaboration takes the aims of communication further, and means being able to exchange ideas while working on the same goal.

Giving and receiving feedback is essential to this teamwork and achieving patient health goals. A two-way communication ensures that RNs and CNAs are in sync and, therefore, able to prevent errors due to miscommunication.

Other than communication and collaboration, there must be mutual respect between nurses and their assistants. As CNAs, showing respect will open up learning opportunities, because nurses would be more willing to share their knowledge with a CNA who is respectful. Doing tasks properly is another way to show respect because a CNA’s work reflects on the nurse’s work, too.

CNAs are indispensable to RNs, but CNAs need to perform their duties well and ensure real teamwork in order to achieve health goals and improve the patient’s well-being.


Posted: 10/14/2019 2:22:29 PM

Soft Skills That Will Make You a Superior Nursing Assistant

You've 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: 10/7/2019 1:38:07 PM

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 clear; a nursing assistant 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 in 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, being silent to listen attentively is making 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: 9/30/2019 1:41:11 PM

How to Protect Yourself at Work

As a nursing assistant, you will encounter many challenges at work. The work as a CNA is not risk-free, so it is vital to know how to protect yourself as a healthcare worker. The dangers lurking at work come in many forms. Read on and see if you encounter any of these.



1. You are constantly exposed to micro-organisms that cause disease. Whether you are working in a home, a facility, or a hospital, the danger of catching a communicable disease is always present. Because of the nature of the work, nursing aides may find themselves caring for people who have infections. Viruses and bacteria are transmitted in various ways. Some of the most common ways these micro-organisms are transmitted are through the air (airborne or droplet), blood, or through food and water intake.

WHAT TO DO: Always practice handwashing and universal precautions. This habit was emphasized in your training as a CNA, and the importance of not acquiring a disease at work and consequently spreading viruses around is a primary responsibility of the nursing assistant. Perform handwashing between patient contacts, when transitioning from dirty to clean areas, and before and after performing care procedures. Use of personal protective equipment when expecting contact with the patient’s body fluid is a must.

2. As a CNA, protect yourself from injury caused by prolonged standing and heavy lifting. Use compression stockings and a comfortable pair of shoes. Lifting, turning, and transferring patients are physically demanding tasks, especially if the patient is large. Any of these motions can cause back and neck strains, or worse, slipped spinal discs. Remember that repeated traumas can take their toll on your body in the long run.

WHAT TO DO: When doing any of these movements, practice proper body mechanics. Remember the basic principles. Maintain a straight back. Bend your legs and not your back. The legs should bear most of your body weight. Push instead of pull. Always have a wide-based stance for more balance. And most importantly, use equipment when available, such as mechanical or electronic lifters, turning sheets, or walkers.

3. Another real danger when working as a nursing assistant is the possibility of being sued by the patient or their family. Lawsuits come about when there is negligence on the part of the worker that resulted in the patient's harm. It could also result from disregarding patient rights or from mishandling their health information.

WHAT TO DO: Be vigilant of your patient’s needs. Work within your scope of responsibility and never perform a task beyond what is permitted by your license. Mentally see “Safety First” written all over the workplace. Know your patient's rights and respect their individuality. Regarding the proper handling of patient information, remember that only those who are directly involved in their care should have the information. Always ask the permission of the patient.

4. Protect yourself from abuse. Due to the demands of the job as a CNA, nursing assistants are prone to verbal and even physical abuse from patients, their family, and co-workers. Hostile behaviors at work are possible so do what you can to first prevent it, or if it has already happened, to avert further damage.

WHAT TO DO: It really helps to be extra friendly. People you deal with at work will tend to mirror your emotions, so do your best to keep a light mood all day. Practice respectful assertiveness. If a co-worker demands that you answer their patient’s call light, you respectfully tell them that you will get back to them as soon as you are done with your duties. If you experience any form of incivility from your co-workers, follow institutional policies on how to handle such cases.

5. Protect yourself from getting sick. Working as a CNA can be challenging. The demands of the job can sometimes be overwhelming. Physical demands include lifting, positioning, transferring, and running. Emotional stresses are also present.

WHAT TO DO: Boost up your immunity. If eating on time is a problem, then compensate by choosing only healthy foods to eat. Keep yourself hydrated. Establish an exercise routine. Use your day-off wisely for recreational activities.

When the going gets tough at work being a nursing assistant, remember to protect not only the patient but also yourself. It is the smartest move you may have to do to be successful in your job.


Posted: 9/23/2019 2:32:11 PM

The Five Strengths of a Certified Nursing Assistant that Should be Recognized

CNAs play a significant role in achieving healthy patient outcomes. The help they provide RNs and LPNs is extremely essential so that nurses can provide a higher level of care. Nursing aides give definition to the word ‘service’ with the care they provide their patients. Their strengths must be applauded and recognized.



1. Patience. CNAs are the epitome of patience in the health industry. You see them change their patient’s soiled undergarments only to know that after about half an hour, they need to change them again. Even when helping a patient with Parkinson’s disease get to the toilet and waiting for them to finish takes time, the nursing assistant waits patiently by the door.

2. Stamina. Nursing assistants are known for their above-average stamina. Their physical strength becomes apparent when they move patients about, lifting, turning and transferring them. You see nursing assistants running through the hallway, always on the move. Their average working hours are about ten hours a day, and sometimes, even their lunch breaks are taken away from them by their responsibilities. Not everyone is built to do the same tasks that they do. Nursing aides get tired of course, but their desire to serve others gives them that extra energy boost to finish their shift.

3. Compassion and empathy. Because nursing assistants spend the most time with patients or residents, they form an attachment to them. Their patient’s condition moves them, and the passing of their patient grieves them, too. CNAs understand that anyone can be vulnerable at any given moment, just like their patients, and they live humbly with that realization. Empathy makes a CNA especially aware of what their patients are feeling. Sometimes people they care for in the unit have lost their voice to disease, but with one look, the CNA knows that the patient is in pain. Their compassion and empathy make them outstanding advocates.

4. A rich source of patient data. CNAs spend a big chunk of their working hours caring for their patients at the bedside. Their observations are vital to the development of the health team’s care plan. Nurses rely on nursing assistants to take accurate data of the patient’s vital signs. The patient information that the CNA reports to the nurse regarding the patient’s urination and bowel movements or their intake and output, is very significant information that can guide or derail the results of the care plan. CNAs will know what confuses a patient with dementia and when the symptoms are worse. They also have a way to determine their patient’s preferences as well as their mood.

5. Determination. If there is one thing to be admired in CNAs, that would be their determination. Their ‘can do’ attitude makes them finish their tasks no matter what. They learn as quickly as they can to cope up with the demands of the job. A patient who refuses to eat is difficult to feed, but a nursing assistant’s determination sparks their creativity to encourage and successfully feed their patient.

The CNA’s contributions to healthy patient outcomes cannot be undermined. Their job is a very tough one at that, yet they continuously better themselves, and prove to the organization, that they are worthy of all the respect, and the appreciation of the patient, the patient’s family, and the rest of the healthcare team.


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