The day starts early for most nurse aides. A vast majority of CNAs are employed at nursing homes, so it is important to be at the long-term care center around the time when resident-patients begin their daily activities. The most important task early in the day is to take vital signs and interview residents to find out if there have been any changes in their health or emotional state. This is a great time for person-to-person interactions and relationship building with residents. Charm and personality go a long way in the earliest hours of the day. During this time, the nurse aide will administer any necessary medication or inform their supervising nurse about the change in conditions for their patients. Once these medical tasks have been completed, it is time to help patients with the first meal of the day.
Residents will have very different needs depending on their unique situations. Some may not require any assistance in getting to the dining hall or cafeteria, but others are bed-ridden or with limited mobility. These patients will require assistance moving from their bed and through the nursing home. But some residents do not leave their beds at all, so feeding time requires even more facilitation. Nurse aides are required to hand-feed the most care-dependent residents.
In some cases, these patients will also need help with their daily hygiene. Because they are bed-ridden, their hygiene is of the utmost importance. Cleaning their room, their personal spaces, and their body are all tasks expected of the nurse aide. Sponge-bathing helps to keep the patients from developing bedsores or other physical ailments related to their living conditions. These patients also need help stretching and maintaining their physical strength, so a series of facilitated exercises may be required every day. The patients in the greatest need for attention benefit the most from charitable conversation and genuine sympathy. These intimate, one-on-one interactions are a very sensitive time for both nurse aides and patients. The proper protocol for engaging patients and keeping them comfortable physically and emotionally is an essential part of CNA training, and at these moments, every nurse aide is tested in compassion.
After basic needs have been accounted for, it is time to help the patients keep their spirits up. Between physical examinations and routine daily activities, nursing homes provide their residents with activities and seminars for entertainment, education, and exercise. Nurse aides sometimes manage pastime activities like Bingo games, arts and crafts, or fitness activities like aerobics or yoga. Depending on your interests, there are many ways to contribute to this aspect of the job. Helping residents have fun and stay positive is essential to keeping them healthy.
The days wind down as gradually as they start up, but not without surprises. One resident had a heart attack during a poker game and the nursing staff had to keep him stabilized while the ambulance was on its way. The supervising nurse needed two nurse aides to get him to the lobby and provide constant CPR to keep oxygen in his bloodstream. Without the nurse aides’ immediate and life-saving assistance, he may have experienced brain damage or died. Fortunately, everything worked out and he recovered without complications at the hospital. The day shift is over, but the next shift of nurse aides arrives at the nursing home to monitor the residents throughout the night. They will keep an eye on sleeping residents and the occasional night-owl patients. Because emergencies can happen at any moment, the night shift is just as critical as the day sh