Lincoln Medical Home Health and Hospice, an affiliate of Lincoln Health System, is providing weekly information about Home Care during November, designated as National Home Care and Hospice Month. Home Care Aide Week takes place November 13-19, 2016, and celebrates the many aides whose contributions are second to none as they bring personal warmth to the daily work of giving personal care.
A nurse’s aide, also called a nursing assistant or patient care assistant, works as part of a health care team to provide personal care and nursing support to patients. These invaluable individuals may work in a variety of settings: in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and home care.
Training to become a CNA is offered by some community colleges, online schools and through medical facilities. Once an individual has completed aide training, he or she completes a competency exam and is designated as a certified nursing assistant, or “CNA”. “Being a CNA is a very physical job”, says Lesley Hatley, RN. “In the course of a day, CNAs provide physical support to assist patients to perform daily living activities, such as getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, standing, walking, or exercising. They work closely with nurses to take vital signs, answer call lights, help with feeding, record fluid and food intake and urinary and fecal output, and turn and reposition a patient unable to get out of bed”.
The demand for CNAs is high, especially among those institutions that provide continuing care and assisted living for the elderly. “Many health care facilities recognize the important role that a competent and compassionate CNA can play in the quality of care offered,” states Susie Compton, Administrator for Lincoln Medical Home Health and Hospice. “They play an especially critical role in home care as caregivers, companions, and friends. They are an extra set of eyes and ears in the home. During and after a home visit they can communicate updates regarding patient needs and changes in condition to registered nurses and therapists who can then communicate with physicians and alter treatment to ensure that patient needs are safely met”.
Although she has been a CNA for several years, Dee Crutcher completed more specific training in home health and hospice when she began to work for the agency this past December. “The nurses at the agency value the information that I obtain during my visits,” says Crutcher. “Some of our patients are very fragile and their conditions can change very suddenly. I can make sure that they are as physically and emotionally comfortable as possible. I am able to listen when they or their families need to talk. And sometimes I can just let them know that I care about them”.
Kristin Morris, RN, has worked with Dee at both Lincoln Medical Center and in the home care setting. “Her compassion and gentleness are so important to the welfare of our patients”, says Morris. “She brightens their days with conversation and genuine interest in how they are doing. Our homebound patients look forward to her visits and benefit from her gentle touch and caring heart. And I know I can count on her to let me know if there is anything that concerns the patients or their families.”
Donna Giovinazzo has been a certified nursing assistant for more than 15 years. Although she is primarily working in the office providing clerical support, she maintains her certification and provides relief and back up assistance. She also performs blood pressure checks at local churches and senior centers. “I really enjoy the opportunities to interact with our patients,” she says. “It reminds me why I began to work in healthcare. There is something so fulfilling about caring for another human being. I love that connection”.