Each year, the third week of June is a time to recognize and honor the work of certified nursing assistants with CNA Week. Celebrated this year from June 15 to 23, the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) sponsors the week and helps draw attention to the vital work certified nursing assistants do.
According to the NAHCA, nearly one million CNAs are in the workforce. Primarily working with elderly patients and those with disabilities, CNAs work in skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, and staffing and home health agencies. Certified nursing assistants also provide vital work in hospice and hospital facilities.
This year’s CNA Week theme is “We’re Unstoppable” to show how the work of CNAs provides a solid foundation of essential care for an often-frail patient population that requires hands-on direct health care and for many activities of daily living.
Since 1995, the NAHCA has advocated for CNAs and for the people they care for. The organization helps promote this professional career path as one that is meaningful and particularly satisfying for certified nursing assistants who value building lasting relationships with those they care for. Because many CNAs remain committed to a lifelong career as a CNA, the organization also promotes continuing education for CNAs, better workplace conditions through recognition, education, advocacy, and motivation.
To help ensure the success of CNAs and the highest quality of caregiving, the NAHCA advocates for CNAs by working closely with healthcare providers and the long-term care facilities where many CNAs work.
CNAs work under the direct supervision of a nurse and so must learn how to advocate for themselves and for their patients. Communication skills are important for a CNA, whether it is for conveying patient information to a supervisor or in working with a patient or family members. Because CNAs work so closely with patients, they are excellent at noticing concerning changes in a patient or in hearing about family or caregiver concerns. They can observe any fluctuations in movement, speech, eating patterns, or mood because they are around patients as they perform tasks to help them with bathing, eating, moving, or taking medication. CNAs may also use technology to help record healthcare details or to chart tasks or patient changes.
And CNAs often develop close relationships with patients because of the routine they provide. Their schedule might allow them to see the same patients for breakfast every day, for example, and they can talk about how the night went or what they need for the day. Frequently, CNAs in care facilities spend time talking with patients, listening to their stories, and being a comforting presence that is especially welcome.
If you are a CNA or have CNAs on your team, take time this week to appreciate all this role brings to the healthcare team.
Nursing assistants (NA) have been essential members on healthcare teams throughout the COVID-19 crisis. And while the pandemic continues to spread around the world, National Nursing Assistants Day on June 18 is timed to thank nursing assistants for the care they provide.
For 43 years, the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants has sponsored an entire week to celebrate those who choose this career. This year, that week runs from June 18 to 25 and is being marked as “Celebrate in Place” as many events have moved away from in-person formats.
According to Genevieve Gipson, RN, Med, RNC, and director of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, the theme for the week is kindness. NAs are encouraged to focus on a different aspect of kindness throughout the week and focus on events and projects that can continue to have an impact over the course of the year.
The National Association of Health Care Assistants seeks to elevate and promote the professional NA career . Working on teams and with other healthcare providers delivers more consistent and better patient care and nursing assistants are part of the team.
Nursing assistants and certified nursing assistants perform the routine patient care that often allows opportunities to talk with patients and learn more about them. Whether a patient is in a long-term care facility and sees a nursing assistant almost daily or in a short-term hospital stay and only has brief interactions, NAs and CNAs can make an enormous impact on the patient’s general care. By getting to know a patient and listening to them, nursing assistants can pick up on subtle physical or emotional changes or on preferences that could help fine tune such necessities as a preferred meal plan or understand family relationships.
NAs work under the supervision of registered professional nurses and perform duties that can range from basic patient care including bathing, feeding, toileting, grooming, dressing, and answering patient calls for help. They are generally responsible for things that help keep patients comfortable such as changing linens or checking bandages.
NAs can increase their training and competency with certification. Each state determines its own certification requirements, so plan to look into this additional step in whichever state you plan to practice. The extra certification can take a couple of months to complete, but offers additional skills that will be used every day.
The impact of NA-provided patient care can’t be understated. Because of their close interaction, they often help patients who are lonely and can comfort those who may need companionship. During the COVID-19 crisis, many facilities restricted visitors and so healthcare teams were the only people many patients could see for months. Having a friendly person to talk with calms nerves, staves off loneliness, and provides a much-needed human connection.
Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Day and National Nursing Assistants Week and be proud of the much appreciated care you provide.
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