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CAREGIVER BLOG - (CNA, STNA, PCA, HHA)
Posted: 5/7/2021 11:50:42 AM
How to Pamper Your Sore and Tired Feet
After a busy day at work as a CNA, your feet perhaps will be the first body part to complain that they're aching. And that's quite understandable. They bear your entire weight plus tens of other heavy things you support and carry in a day. You walk and run, tiptoe or balance with your feet nonstop until you rest for the night. This tough job is the reason why your lower extremities experience wear and tear the most.
About a quarter of your body’s bones and 6% of your muscles are found in your feet, so you must take care of them the best you can. Your quality of life (and career!) depends on it.
Do your tired feet a favor by following the tips below:
1. Practice proper body mechanics.
Prevention is better than cure. This golden rule applies to foot care. The correct use and positioning of your legs and feet as you move around will keep you away from injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures.
Always stand with your feet slightly apart. Avoid standing on only one foot or putting more weight on one leg. Avoid kicking a heavy load with your feet to move it.
2. Rest and elevate.
Your legs, along with the rest of your body, need a time out to heal and reenergize. Try to raise your feet for a few minutes during your breaks and as you reach home after your shift. This technique is helpful, especially if you are pregnant, obese, or have a circulation problem. Elevating your leg will help relieve pooled blood and swelling. A good night’s sleep will also do wonders for your achy feet.
3. D-I-Y foot spa.
Reward yourself and go for a salon foot spa or you can still enjoy the benefit of a good foot soak at home.
Here are the things that you will need: a foot tub or basin of warm water, towels, some Epsom salt, and lemon.
Put half a cup of Epsom salt into the foot bath and stir to dissolve. Add lemon juice and soak your feet for a few minutes. The Epsom salt has magnesium that will help relieve pain and inflammation. The lemon juice has beneficial nutrients for the skin.
At least once a week, you may use a pumice stone to scrub around your feet to remove dead skin. Rinse and dry your feet and apply moisturizer.
Double the benefit of a foot soak with a massage after. It would be nicer if you could have someone do this for you. The moisturizer can help glide your hands for a smoother motion. There are several steps to do foot massage:
a. Twist one foot gently to the right and left and then move in a circular motion.
b. Rub the length of the arch from the base of the middle toe to the heel.
c. Massage from the middle of the foot outward, much like spreading the sole.
d. Place a rolling pin or a tennis ball on the floor. With downward pressure, alternately roll your feet on top and let the object do the massage.
e. Flex the toes inward and outward.
5. Invest in a good pair of shoes.
Wearing comfortable shoes with a decent insert can not only provide much-needed support but can also help you avoid injuries.
A good tip when buying shoes: if there’s even a tiny part of the shoe that is uncomfortable while you try it on, it’s not worth your money. There is no point in needing to break in a new pair if you would suffer days in a row. That ‘small’ discomfort will turn into a big ache after a long day.
6. Maintain a healthy weight.
The simplest hack to having healthy feet is maintaining ideal body weight. Think of it this way: If you are overweight, it would be like carrying that extra luggage with you wherever you go. The joints and muscles of your feet suffer the consequences. Also, if you are obese, you are prone to develop diabetes, a disease that can cause poor healing to any wound in your feet.
Do you find the above tips enticing? The key to relaxation and rejuvenation is in pampering your feet. Go ahead and treat yourself to your own regimen of relaxing foot care. You deserve it!
Posted: 4/19/2021 6:26:08 PM
Emotional Numbness: The Silent Cost of Overwhelming Stress on CNAs
Nursing assistants are at the frontlines of patient care, having responsibilities that demand a considerable amount of physical stamina and emotional strength. But as it happens, stress can get the better of them, and they end up being cold-hearted. Some say that this is a CNA’s way of turning on survival mode. Do you agree? Let’s discuss further.
What is emotional numbness?
Emotional numbness is a person's unconscious way of protecting oneself from further misery caused by too much stress and negative sentiments.
During a traumatic event, a person may unintentionally teach themselves not to feel anything just so they could continue functioning. They couldn’t work when distraught so they numb their pain. They start caring less to feel less vulnerable. In the end, they become void of any emotion, unable to feel happiness, sadness, anger, guilt, among other emotions.
If you think that there's nothing wrong with detaching from the negative stuff to survive the rollercoaster life of a CNA, we'll let you see it differently.
Blocking emotions as a form of self-preservation is dodging the problem and not facing it head-on. It is like escaping from the suffering without analyzing the situation. You don’t learn anything from it. It also prevents you from feeling positive emotions. In general, it holds you back from having a rich experience.
Are you emotionally numb?
Let’s do a simple self-check. Here's a list of what happens when you lock yourself up untouched in your own emotional cell:
1. You feel blank, blunt, and empty.
You can't feel happy when there's good news or something to celebrate. You can't feel sad either, even if you witness something horrible. The death of someone close, like a loved one or a long-time resident, does not affect you in any way.
2. You work on autopilot.
No relevant conversation with others, just task completion. You rely on muscle memory for care procedures, and you couldn't care any less if patients get better or worse.
It doesn’t bother you at all if a patient is in pain or is dying. You don’t feel any compassion or empathy, not even guilt or anger. All you care about is finishing your shift.
3. It’s like living in a bubble.
You see everything happening around you, like a spectator would. You don’t take an active part in any activity. It’s like seeing the world in a movie or being in a dream. You just let things happen, good or bad, and you don’t care if it affects you or others.
4. You are emotionally distant and physically withdrawn.
Your relationship with your colleagues and your family is superficial and also strained. There is a lack of commitment on your part.
Now take a moment and reflect. How many of the signs above you find true? If you say yes to all, it’s time to reevaluate your situation and take it seriously. This here is not some petty problem that can be solved by a good night's sleep. You may need to get professional help and undergo a mental health check.
If, on the other hand, you feel that this is going to be your story soon enough, the tips below should help you avoid falling into this internal pit.
How to win over emotional numbness.
1. If you need to step back a little from highly tense situations, do so, but don't make it a habit.
Be in touch again with your inner self and acknowledge your feelings. Being honest to oneself is the first step in ensuring that your emotional detachment is temporary.
2. Tell yourself it’s ok to be vulnerable at times.
Cry if you must and laugh if you’re happy. You may even have to ignore expectations for you to toughen up. Working as a CNA will let you experience so many things, and you will surely have to go through highs and lows in your career.
3. Do uplifting activities.
Go back to an old hobby. Be with friends who can cheer you up. Find support from your co-workers. Open up to a confidante and share your feelings with them. Talking about your experiences helps you find peace and relief from all the emotional turmoil.
4. Set boundaries.
Avoid being overly involved with your patient’s healthcare journey to prevent personally experiencing what the patient and their family are going through. Keep a safe emotional space between you and the patient so that you can still provide care efficiently.
5. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being fully aware of your current experience to avoid being overwhelmed by problems. It is taking a moment to sit back, relax, breathe deeply and meditate.
To perform this self-awareness exercise, close your eyes and acknowledge your feelings without judging yourself. Name what you feel and tell yourself you’re over it. Say, "I am so sad, but now I am letting go of this sadness." Mindfulness helps process and keep your emotions in check.
Sometimes, you can get entangled with the many happenings in the workplace. If you do get stuck for some reason, remind yourself that there are ways to overcome. Reach out and find support.
Posted: 4/12/2021 2:42:13 PM
It’s Time to Get Serious About Preventing Infections in Long-Term Care Facilities
The current Covid-19 pandemic is a blaring wake-up call for us to realize how vulnerable older patients are to infectious diseases. Now more than ever, it's time to ramp up infection control efforts, especially in long-term care facilities. We cannot let our guards down as nursing assistants. Not ever.
To fully understand how to tackle the challenge of breaking the infection cycle, we must first know what circumstances lead to this problem.
There are several things at play that put older patients at risk for infections. Let's break this complex scenario into smaller, easily understandable pieces.
Firstly, the US is experiencing a surge in the older population, with the rest of the baby boomers retired by 2030. If you’re asking how many older people are in this category, it's currently at 73 million. That should shake things up for us, don’t you think? This lot will need some form of healthcare services, and many will look for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to house them in their final stage of life.
Secondly, a study found that healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) or infections a patient gets while receiving medical attention are quite common. The overall negative effect of HAIs in nursing homes is now estimated to be more than that of acute care facilities.
Another problem is the age-related changes that result in weak immunity in older patients. An aged body does not build enough resistance against diseases. It doesn't respond well to vaccinations, too.
Older people also have a host of chronic conditions that make treatment more complicated. Some will have urinary catheters, feeding tubes, and surgically inserted devices that serve as breeding grounds for disease-causing microorganisms.
Older patients in nursing homes experience functional decline. They find self-care and activities of daily living increasingly difficult to carry out. They struggle with hygiene measures, such as bathing, oral care, and perineal care after toileting, all of which significantly reduce pathogens.
Grouped living quarters is another reason why infections are on the rise in long-term care facilities. Residents share common areas, equipment, appliances, and furniture. Microorganisms spread fast this way.
The list of factors that lead to increased cases of infectious diseases in long-term care facilities does not end here. We must also consider the lack of drive to enforce infection control procedures by the management. There is also the problem of lack of knowledge by the staff. In worse-case scenarios, an outbreak starts where the culprit is bacteria that do not respond to antibiotic treatment, among others.
CNAs like you can take an active part in preventing the spread of infections among residents by keeping in mind the following:
1. Having clean hands is the key.
Hand hygiene is the simplest, yet most effective way to prevent the spread of harmful microorganisms.
Take note of the situations wherein you must wash your hands: Before and after performing care procedures, after touching anything visibly dirty such as the trash bin, the toilet, or the ground, and after exposure to bodily fluids.
You may use hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands if you cannot perform handwashing.
2. Use personal protective equipment when needed.
Depending on a care procedure, you may use gloves, masks, and eye protection.
Change gloves for every care task, for example, in between oral care and change of incontinence pads or cleaning pressure ulcers. Change gloves before seeing another patient. Use the items only once and discard them properly after use.
3. Disinfect all equipment and frequently touched surfaces.
Many patients share the same equipment, so disease transmission is very likely. It's crucial to sanitize and disinfect these items together with other frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, kitchen counters, bedside tables, and bed rails. Do this regularly according to agency protocols.
4. Clean the surroundings.
Microorganisms thrive in dark, warm, and moist places. The ground is also teeming with many pathogens. For these reasons, it's necessary to keep the immediate environment clean.
5. Dispose of waste properly.
Another factor that feeds the cycle of infection is the improper handling of waste. Make sure to dispose of waste in the appropriate trash bin, especially those contaminated with blood and bodily fluids.
6. Take note of the common signs and symptoms of an infection.
An observant and vigilant CNA is a gem. Help the healthcare team look out for signs of infection such as diarrhea, vomiting, cough, colds, or fever. Report confusion or any change in behavior, especially in residents in their advanced years. A wound that is red, swollen, and with pus needs to be reported, too.
7. Take care of yourself.
If you are sick, you can transfer bacteria and viruses to your co-workers and patients. Keeping yourself healthy is indirectly stopping the spread of infectious diseases.
Long-term care facilities are home to the most vulnerable population. A strong dedication to practicing strict infection control is the way to protect older patients.
Posted: 4/6/2021 8:11:28 AM
How to Help Older Patients Embrace Life in a Nursing Home
One of the most heartbreaking scenarios to witness in a nursing home is an older patient who is adjusting poorly to their new living arrangement. The struggle is real. Many new residents openly speak about their discomfort receiving long-term care in a nursing home. The stress is quite understandable as the patients need to adjust to many changes in the way they live.
Older patients resent nursing home life because they hate being away from their loved ones. They had to leave their comfort zone, too, which is their home.
Some patients also adjust poorly because they may not be used to smaller living spaces where they have to share a room with several others. They view the loss of personal space and privacy as a huge problem. They have limited choices in personalizing their spaces.
Long-term care homes have imposed restrictions and rules to obey. These facilities have a schedule to follow and residents may not be allowed to do something out of routine.
Another difficulty they face is poor treatment by staff and fellow residents. According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, about 1 in 4 nursing home patients (24.3%) have experienced physical abuse at least once. In 2014 alone, there were about 14,000 allegations of abuse or neglect filed with nursing home ombudsmen.
But older patients have to transition to nursing facilities because of their progressively worsening functional decline. Their complex health needs require supervision or regular treatments. In short, their stay is a must. And this is where the role of a nursing assistant comes into full play.
CNAs are the lifeblood of any nursing home. They perform most of the bedside care procedures and assist patients with activities of daily living. As a nursing assistant, you are in the right place and have the perfect job to make a difference in helping patients adjust to nursing home life.
Here are some of the things that you can do:
1. Foster independence.
Protect their sense of control. One thing that you can do is to provide choices wherever possible. Ensure that new residents have the essentials they need to move safely and independently, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, and walkers.
2. Ask residents how you can help to make them more comfortable.
Would they like a fluffier pillow? A thicker blanket maybe? Will they be able to sleep better if they are on their side? Patients tend to voice out what they want.
If residents are not vocal about it, ask more specific questions, such as, "Is the bathwater warm enough for you?" "Would you like your tea with milk or sugar?" Most importantly, attend to their needs as soon as you can.
3. Give patients a room with a view.
If there is a way for maladjusted residents to get a room with a window, the better it is for them. The scenery does not have to be a majestic landscape as long as there is something to see outside. Having a view expands their world and can add to the relaxation.
4. Be polite and uphold their dignity.
Residents need to feel that they are human beings still capable of feeling. They want to be respected and not regarded as merely a daunting responsibility. Protect their privacy and personal space by asking permission before entering the room or starting a procedure.
5. Let them meet other residents with similar interests.
Meeting new people and living with them in the same facility is not exactly easy. A good workaround to this challenge is introducing them to people who have the same culture or hobbies as them, some common ground to start with.
6. Ask for the resident’s feedback.
Relay their message to the healthcare team. It's a way for them to have more say in their own care.
7. Help the resident connect with their loved ones.
Even if residents are with other people, they may still feel isolated because they are not with those they love. Help them use gadgets for communication, such as chats and video calls. Ask if they want a picture of their family by the bedside.
8. Hold meaningful conversations.
Ask how they are feeling. Listen to their stories. Even if you don't have enough time on your hands to spare, you can engage the resident in a conversation while performing a procedure. Give cues that you listened to them. For example, if they mentioned their daughter, Claire, the last time, ask how Claire is doing on your next shift.
9. Explain the rules by highlighting the benefits rather than the limitations.
Nursing homes have policies that may be viewed as restrictive by new residents. As a CNA, you can make them comply easier by telling them how the rules help them in the long run.
In 2016, there are about 1.7 million licensed nursing home beds in the US, and with the rising number of baby boomers, this number will increase further in the coming years. CNAs like you can do so much to make this important milestone in a patient's life more manageable and a worthwhile experience.
Posted: 3/26/2021 2:03:46 PM
The Integrity Basket: Honesty and the Courage to Always Do the Right Thing
Don't we all love a workplace where everyone holds the highest standards of moral principles? You know, with people supporting each other because it's the right thing to do… Working on solutions instead of putting a lid on bad news… Staying on a stressful job simply because your patients need you… what a career paradise!
Even though no such perfection exists, it doesn't mean that we're not supposed to work our way to achieve it. Filling the integrity basket has so many benefits. For one, it fosters a positive work culture that overcomes the challenges of the job. It also improves productivity and provides a rich experience for employees. Most importantly, it creates a safe environment for patients.
Having integrity is such a highly-valued characteristic of a worker. Nursing assistants like you can serve as a role model of good morals by doing the following tips:
1. Be honest.
Speak only of the truth. Stand for truth. Be the real you. Honesty lets you live an empowered life because you don't have to look over your shoulder constantly. You are guilt-free because you have nothing to hide.
Be truthful in everything you do. Don't be tempted to jot down vital signs measurements you didn't take or say that you performed a procedure even if you didn't. Lastly, use honesty to build others.
2. Always choose to do the right thing.
Deciding to do what's right isn't always comfortable, especially if it puts your career or that of your co-worker on the line. Sometimes when you do the right things, unfortunate consequences come together with the good ones. For example, when you expose fraudulent activities in your workplace, you do help ensure patient safety, but doing so can also put you in hot water with the management and your co-workers.
Backing out seems to be an easy escape away from such consequences. You see, it takes incredible courage to stand by what's right. But remember that in the end, you are your own judge. Will you be proud of the choices you made in the past? Or would you regret that you took the easy way out?
Doing the right thing not only defines your character as a person but also gives meaning to your job as a CNA.
3. Preserve trust.
Someone with high integrity would always take extra care to keep the trust of others. In the healthcare industry, trust is the foundation of all services.
All workers, CNAs included, must ensure that the confidence in the healthcare system is intact. To do this, always maintain patient confidentiality and demonstrate competence. Only then will you earn the trust of your patients and colleagues.
4. Be respectful.
Respect is a sign of maturity as well as integrity. Being courteous and showing good manners means that you regard others properly.
Consideration for others also shows that you value their comfort and respect their feelings. Attentive listening and being gentle with words give due regard to others.
You can also show respect by not judging their views and opinions. It is crucial to be fair in all your dealings regardless of race, culture, or status.
5. Be responsible for your actions.
A true sign of integrity lies in being ready to accept the consequences of one's actions – the good, the bad, and everything in between. But first, it starts with having the courage to admit one’s mistakes. Owning up to one’s mistakes is quite courageous and admirable.
6. Say no to bullying.
Hostile behavior at work fosters a culture of fear that results in many destructive outcomes.
The victims of bullying experience tremendous stress. They suffer physically, emotionally, and mentally. Bullying victims tend to commit errors to the patients' detriment.
Participating in any bullying act, or even just condoning it, is a sign of a weak character, so build and give support instead of break.
7. Follow rules and regulations.
Policies are put in place to define expected behaviors at work. They provide a safe, predictable, and stable work environment. Following protocols means that you align yourself with your agency's visions and goals. You are ready for growth and bigger responsibilities.
8. Refuse valuable gifts in exchange for special favors.
Sometimes, you may encounter people who would attempt to get what they want through bribery. It's enticing to accept a gift, especially if it is of great value, but it is also subtly asking you to be unfair, play favorites or break the rules. There is no integrity in this deal, so politely decline such offers.
A CNA beyond reproach is worthy of praise and recognition - a true asset to the organization and a real health warrior. Always fill your integrity basket with the good stuff so that you can proudly look back at each day without regret.
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