Among the vast array of health care careers lies the area of direct care giving. These professionals are often Home Health Assistant (HHA) or Home Health Aides, Personal Care Assistants, Nurse's Aides, Patient Care Technicians and several other titles, depending on the work environment and the region.
Certified Nursing Assistants work closely with patients and provide assistance with daily living tasks, such as: dressing (according to patients' needs, ranging from minimal assistance to totally dependent); bathing (bed baths, tub baths, showers); feeding (serving meals, physically feeding patients who are unable to do so themselves); toileting (assisting with bedpans & urinals, help to the bathroom, provide incontinent care for patients who need it); vital signs (Blood pressure, pulse, etc); Catheter caring (emptying, upkeep of Intake & Output sheets when necessary); answering call lights in a timely fashion; assisting patients with ambulation, when needed; range of Motion Exercises, as prescribed by physical therapy; assisting residents in wheelchairs (a lot of heavy lifting at times); making beds and keeping the patients' rooms and belongings neat and organized; ensuring that bedridden patients are turned at least every two hours, to ensure comfort and to prevent bedsores; reporting all changes, physical and mental, of the patients to the nurse; Post Mortem Care; safety awareness - keeping an eye on wanderers and watching for potentially dangerous situations; Documentation - daily documentation on the care provided to each patient; and anything else that needs to be done.
Certified Nurse Assistants are required to lift patients, assist a patient that is falling and carry heavy medical equipment. They should have the physical dexterity to perform skills that require fine motor movement. Basic observations are made by the CNA; therefore they should possess the senses of sight, hearing, smell, and touch.
Certified Nursing Assistants can be found in nursing homes, hospitals, adult day health centers, assisted living facilities, even personal homes. Wherever there is a need for personal care, Certified Nursing Assistants are the ones who, for the most part, perform the most basic needs for patients, young and old alike. They work under the supervision of a nurse. Since aides have extensive daily contact with each patient, they are keys to providing vital information on the patients' conditions to the nurse.
A certified nursing assistant's job does not end with the physical needs of the patients. This is a job which requires compassion and a desire to make people comfortable and happy. Residents of nursing homes often suffer from depression and/or dementia, and the certified nursing assistant is often the closest human contact afforded to many of these people. A sense of humor helps in this field.