Welcome to Just for Nursing Assistants…where CNAs are our only focus!
So, why create a website that’s all about nursing assistants? Here’s why: we believe that direct caregivers—such as CNAs, home health aides and personal care aides—are the heroes of health care. And, unfortunately, they are often unsung heroes.
If you take a trip through history, the same used to be true of nurses. For example, did you know that most nurses were not allowed to take vital signs until the 1960s? Physicians did not believe nurses had the skills necessary to use stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs! All told, it took hundreds of years for nurses to garner the respect that they deserve.
What about CNAs? They became part of the health care team in World War I when the Red Cross enlisted the help of untrained volunteers to assist nurses. Now, nearly 100 years later, nursing assistants provide up to 90% of the direct hands-on patient care. In the United States alone, there are more than 3 million direct care workers and we are going to need 1 million more by 2016!
Nursing assistants earn our admiration every day by providing care to the sick and/or elderly in a variety of settings: hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, patients’ homes and more. You probably know someone who has been cared for by a certified nursing assistant. We’d love to hear your story—and help you share your thoughts with CNAs around the globe.
We can’t afford to wait another century to show respect and appreciation for nursing assistants. Please join us today in honoring CNAs everywhere!
Recently, Pamela Tabar, the Associate Editor for Long Term Living Magazine, wrote an article about the Olympic feats performed by caregivers. She begins her article with a humorous look at what events would make up a Caregiver Olympics, such as Wheelchair Slalom and Mad Bathroom Dash. However, at the heart of her message is this:
“Caregiving is a marathon and a passion. Like the Wide World of Sports catchphrase, the vocation includes both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The progress of yesterday can be erased by tomorrow.”
Ms. Tabar also says that nursing assistants:
- “possess incredible stamina and patience while enduring gruelling repetition: how to take the meds and what time it is and what’s for dinner and why no one came to visit this week.”
- “know that caregiving is a team effort—on every shift, at every facility. They support their colleagues physically and emotionally in order to combat high stress and high nurse burnout rates.”
- “come back each day knowing that they probably won’t receive the rewards they have earned through hard work and dedication. A heartfelt thanks would stretch far, but they usually don’t get that, either.”
We couldn’t agree more and we thank Ms. Tabar for her dedication to the professionalism of nursing assistants. Click here to read the complete article, entitled The Olympic Feats of Caregivers.
Martha Sloane, a certified nursing assistant at Fairview Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, shared her thoughts with us about her CNA career and why she loves her job so much. Here’s what Martha had to say:
Four days a week, I drive to a my job on Unit II at Fairview Commons. As I head to work, I anticipate the varied needs of my residents. I drive with a feeling of hope — that I will be able to make a difference in a resident’s life for that day, bringing them comfort, perhaps some laughter and, most of all, thorough and careful nursing care.
The unit I work on consists of a wonderful team of men and women. Their ages range from 20 to 60. You might think the age gap would make it difficult for us to work together. But that’s not the case! We work as a real team. Each CNA has a group for which they are responsible in addition to working with other CNAs when they need assistance. Because we know each other well enough we are able to arrange work according to each of our strengths and weaknesses. And, we share our knowledge and skills for resident care with each other.
My work as a CNA is tough – no doubt about it. It is non-stop from the time my shift begins. My job requires a great deal of physical and mental strength and excellent interpersonal skills:
- Physical because of the type of care required which means lots of resident lifting.
- Mental because of the variety of residents’ personalities and ailments and being alert to new symptoms a resident might express or that we notice.
- Interpersonal because I spend time reassuring each resident they are important and showing them that I am happy to see them.
Most of all, my job means providing good nursing care to each resident for whom I am responsible.
I work with some great nurses. They look out for resident safety and the safety of the us CNAs. They look, listen and investigate concerns that my fellow CNAs and I express about a resident’s condition and they assist us with procedures when we need an extra pair of hands or some reassurance.
What a good feeling it is to go home at the end of my shift and know I have made a difference in someone’s life, provided good care, perhaps shared a laugh or two or simply spent some time with residents holding their hands to assure them I am there for them!
Fairview Commons is an affiliate of Berkshire Healthcare Systems, the largest non-profit, post-acute care company in Massachusetts. Fairview Commons employees enjoy enhanced education and training opportunities and clearly defined paths for growth and development.
If you are interested in working with great people like Martha Sloane, please send your resume and cover note to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Working in the healthcare environment is unlike any other professional situation you will ever encounter. The medical field is stressful, fast paced, competitive, highly technical and constantly evolving. And, because human lives are at stake, those of us in healthcare shoulder a heavy responsibility. When all these factors combine, workers tend to feel powerless, stressed out, depressed and even angry. People who feel powerless and angry are more likely to assert misguided power by abusing others. That’s one reason why many healthcare environments are plagued by hostility, gossip, bullying and unhealthy competition—leading to a widespread culture of incivility.
Sadly, civility has been overlooked and undervalued for far too long among healthcare professionals—but now the secret is out. Studies have proven that a lack of workplace civility adds to medical errors, poor patient satisfaction, higher employee turnover, stress, burnout, bullying and higher healthcare costs for consumers.
Since the Joint Commission issued a statement on incivility and disruptive behaviors in 2009, survey after survey has revealed that nearly all healthcare workers have either witnessed or been the victim of incivility. While a small percentage filed costly lawsuits, the majority did nothing to report or resolve the matter. Why? Because that’s just the way things have always been.
We believe that the cyclical “shortage” of healthcare workers may, in fact, be a shortage of workers willing to work under these conditions—and we want to inspire you to make some changes.
Civility is the REAL healthcare reform our industry needs! Civility training in healthcare settings has the potential to improve patient care, strengthen team relationships and create an atmosphere that energizes and inspires those who are in it. Healthcare professionals who embrace civility are less likely to quit or “job hop,” and are less likely to burn out, bully or “eat their young!”So, if you feel burned out, beaten up, disrespected or just plain discouraged about your job in healthcare, this book is for you.
Whether you are a nurse, a CNA, a therapist, a social worker or some other member of the healthcare team, we are glad you have chosen a career in healthcare—and we want you to STAY!
Whether you are just entering the healthcare field or you’ve been providing healthcare services for years, a new book, The Real Healthcare Reform: How Embracing Civility Can Beat Back Burnout and Revive Your Healthcare Career, offers an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to changing your outlook, improving your professional relationships, and brightening your future in healthcare.
Whether you’d like to implement a full scale civility training program at your workplace or simply learn some strategies to improve your own professional outlook, The REAL Healthcare Reform provides the step-by-step action plan you need to put civility to work and resolve the toxic atmosphere that pollutes your workplace.
Pre-order your copy of The REAL Healthcare Reform today from the publisher, In the Know, or from Amazon. Your copy will ship by May 10th. To pre-order multiple copies (at a discounted rate) for your organization, please call us at 877-809-5515.
Tags: civility training, CNAs, culture of incivility, healthcare reform, healthcare workers, job burnout, nurses, professional relationships, The Joint Commission, workplace bullying, workplace incivility
We love this story about Catherine Shero, CNA. It was published in the TriValley Dispatch newspaper.
“I just kind of fell into it back then,” said Shero, who went to high school with filmmaker Michael Moore. “I stayed in it because it was my passion – because I like taking care of the people.”
Shero, 55, said she has never considered another occupation, or going back to school to become a nurse. After all, she loves her job, and described her patients as “our most vulnerable population.”
She moved to Prescott from Happy Jack three years ago, and has worked since then at Meadow Park Care Center, a 64-bed skilled nursing facility.
Shero is now lead CNA at Meadow Park, and is assigned to 19 patients with behavioral health issues. Her duties include bathing and dressing people.
You can read the full story here. Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations go out to Cat!!
Blunt’s nomination was based on her 20 years of service, nine of them at Delmar Gardens North.
Blunt’s administrator and charge nurse describe her as a “mini teacher,” saying she always mentors new nursing assistants, helping them develop their skills.
CONGRATULATIONS to you, Paula, from all of us at Just For Nursing Assistants!
Yesterday, the New York Times posted an article on its website entitled One Way to Judge a Nursing Home. So, what’s that “one way’? It involves talking to the nursing assistants at the nursing home and finding out how long they have been on staff.
The author of the article, Dale Russakoff, describes her experience of searching for a nursing home for her mother. Here is some of what she has to say:
“In casual conversations in hallways and dining rooms at more than a dozen facilities, I found only one nurses’ aide who had been on the job more than six months. I was witnessing in real life one of the most dismal statistics in long-term care: More than 70 percent of nurses’ aides, or certified nursing assistants, change jobs in a given year.”
In studying the issue of CNA turnover, Ms. Russakoff came face to face with the ugly truth:
“Researchers have found that high turnover in a facility corresponds with poor quality of care — more bedsores and more use of restraints, catheters and mood-altering drugs. That is, more reliance on medicine and technology, less on relationships.
In nursing homes with high turnover rates, certified nursing assistants tend to leave within three months, often because of inadequate training and support to juggle multiple frail, ailing residents at a time, according to Robyn Stone, senior vice president for research at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Once aides leave, everyone else must pick up their caseloads, and the stress of the job rises.”
Ms. Russakoff did find a nursing home where a number of the nurse aides were long time employees…and this is where her mother lived until her death. One particular nursing assistant was especially memorable:
“Ericka Dickens had been there for nine years when she became my mother’s aide. She had the patience and experience to navigate my mother’s stormy moods as her dementia worsened, to notice immediately when she was feeling weak or sick. Sometimes I would arrive in the early morning to find Ms. Dickens sitting beside my mother, holding her hand and talking to her.
I asked [Ericka] what made her want to stay in the job all these years. She said she always felt respected and supported, but the anchor for her and others is the bond with residents.”
You can read the complete article here.
The Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA) has selected Betty Perez, a nurse aide, as its June 2010 Hero of Long Term Care. To honor Betty, the OHCA will feature her on their website throughout the month of June. She will also be celebrated at the 2011 OHCA annual conference.
Betty works at Wapakoneta Manor in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Her administrator, Lorraine Fischio, had this to say about her:
“Betty has the ability to stay focused on the residents’ needs…making them her top priority. She has a ‘can-do’ attitude and her co-workers enjoy working with her. She goes above and beyond the call of duty, coming in to work on off-shifts and helping out as needed. Through her efforts, Betty puts a smile on the faces of everyone she touches. She is our hero!”
All of us at Just for Nursing Assistants applaud Betty for her devotion to her work. And, we congratulate her on her achievement!
Note: You can read more about Betty here.
The other day, I found a great essay written by Mark Laughlin for the online magazine, Smile Politely. It’s obvious that Mark has a great appreciation for nursing assistants and understands their importance to our health care system. Here’s some of what Mark had to say:
- Nursing assistants come in all shapes and sizes. They are both male and female. Their physical appearances are different, but they all have bodies that withstand the punishing nature of the work.
- They do a lot of stuff that isn’t really in the job description. They arrange the Hallmark cards next to the bed, dial the phone for residents who can’t do it themselves and clean out the whiskers that are clogging the blades of the electric razor.
- In short, nursing assistants help people who can’t completely help themselves. A nursing assistant can be the functioning arms of a quadriplegic, the eyesight of a person who is blind, the voice of someone who cannot talk.
- Nursing assistants don’t just work with their patients and residents—they pretty much live with them, 40 hours a week, sometimes for decades—until the patient or resident is discharged or dies. Want to know if a resident prefers angel food or chocolate cake? What television shows they watch on Tuesday nights? How many socks they have in their bottom dresser drawer? Ask the nursing assistant.
- Nursing assistants have a tough, dirty job. They are often verbally abused by the residents they take care of. This happens especially in nursing homes, where residents are often angry and no longer willing or able to be polite.
- Nursing assistants have to deal with the most intimate and disgusting bodily functions of their residents—they change diapers, clean up vomit, etc. Residents do sudden and shocking things. Nursing assistants get bit—literally. That kind of stuff pushes your buttons, but a good nursing assistant deals with all of the above without losing their temper and does what is best for their residents at all times.
- Nursing assistant work is generally viewed as not being highly-skilled. In a sense, this is true. It doesn’t take as long to learn how to operate a Hoyer lift as it does to learn a new computer programming language, for example. But being a good nursing assistant is more than just a set of skills—it’s a gift.
- A good nursing assistant has a capacity for caring that can’t be taught; some people have it, and some people don’t. For instance, a nursing assistant might have a non-ambulatory resident with developmental disabilities who is showered lying down on a gurney and always gets upset when the water hits him. So, the nursing assistant tries different things and finally discovers that singing to the resident calms him down. She even figures out what songs he likes best. Then, she sings to him every shift—for years. She doesn’t just sing because it’s easier and safer to shower the resident when he’s calm. She doesn’t do it because she’s being watched for her performance evaluation. She does it because she’s like that—because she cares.
- A good nursing assistant is a hero.
Thank you, Mark, for your insightful essay (which can be read in its entirety here).
Dawn Mazzola is a certified nursing assistant at a nursing/rehab facility. She finds working with the elderly to be a very rewarding job, yet sometimes she feels her job goes overlooked. One day after a long shift, she came home and wrote about being a CNA.
“Only” a CNA?
Who are you to refer to us,
As “Only” a CNA?
We’re the ones who wash and dress
Our patients for the day.
We’re the ones who take the time
To listen to them speak.
We listen about their lifetime,
In a forty hour week.
We also give our hands to hold
When someone’s feeling scared.
It’s not easy being a patient,
You’re never quite prepared.
We take the time to listen,
By lending both our ears.
We listen to their worries,
Or how they’ve spent their years.
Our arms were made to reach,
And even wrap around.
To give our patients hugs,
When they’re feeling a little down.
We help our patients do the things,
They used to do on their own.
Everybody needs some help,
Even when we’re grown.
So who are you to refer to us,
As “only” a CNA?
We do our best to meet their needs,
Within our working day.
We chose to do this job,
The job did not choose us.
We sympathize and empathize,
Compassion is a must.
We try to keep them comfortable,
And free of any fear.
We sit along beside them,
When that time is near.
We hold their hand, stroke their hair,
Just making sure they know.
They’re not alone, an aide is there,
It’s ok for them to go.
To all the CNAs keep your head held high,
We’re not “only” CNAs.
WE’RE ANGELS IN DISGUISE!!
Source: FamilyFriendPoems website
Of course, at Just for Nursing Assistants, we prefer to honor CNAs every day! It is our mission to spread the word about the importance of the nursing assistant role…and, as a result, help to promote fair pay and increased benefits for direct care workers. Right now, about one third of all direct care workers have no health insurance themselves. How can we let that continue?
So, thanks to everyone who has already contributed a message to Just for Nursing Assistants. The more voices heard, the better! And a HUGE thank you to all the dedicated CNAs across the U.S. and beyond. Enjoy your CNA Week…but please remember that we are here for you all year long!