The role of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
is extensive when it comes to home health care. CNAs perform all essential tasks needed to take complete care of patients at their respective homes, guiding them toward a healthy recovery. From feeding patients to taking notes on their health condition, CNAs perform many duties with precision and compassion. Their work varies depending on the patient, but generally requires that all of their skills be put to use. Serving weak or elderly patients, people with disabilities, and those suffering from specific illnesses, CNAs must be well-rounded, knowledgeable, and flexible at all times. As of 2016, CNAs earned an average salary of $26,590 per year
. Those who go into home care, however, can make much more if they obtain an RN (Registered Nursing) license
and a broader scope of practice.
What Is Home Care?
Home care helps avoid unnecessary hospitalization by bringing care and comfort to a patient’s home. In other words, this service gives a patient the highest quality of life while still providing all the medical assistance they need. Allowing a patient to recover at home enables a greater amount of autonomy, as well as relief. A hospital setting can be stressful, especially while recovering from an injury or disease. Home care takes away the stress of hospitals while still ensuring a patient’s safety and security through the help of a CNA.
Types of Home Care
The three main types of home care are Personal Care and Companionship, Private Duty Nursing Care, and Home Health Care. Each type of care includes many services for various different illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. CNAs fill many of these services:
- Personal Care and Companionship – Personal Care and Companionship services help with everyday activities like dressing, eating, and bathing, as well as maintain housekeeping. This position can also be referred to as homemaker care, assistive care, or companion care. The duties of a CNA providing this type of care may overlap somewhat with the role of a home health aide (HHA).
- Private Duty Nursing Care – Private Duty Nursing Care provides long-term care to patients with chronic illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. These services are often used for diseases and conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), ALS, or MS.
- Home Health Care – Home Health Care is short-term and provides physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, or medical social work, among other services, to patients with more minor ailments. These services help a patient prevent or recover from an illness or injury.
There are many duties associated with in-home care. From administering treatment to maintaining a clean environment, CNAs will likely use all the skills they have learned in school
to deliver the best possible care to their patients. Below are a few of the most common duties for CNAs working in home health care positions:
- Administer treatment – CNAs administer a patient’s prescribed treatment to them at home. They also dress wounds, change bandages, and measure vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, respiration rate, etc.).
- Monitor oxygen supply and equipment – If a patient is under oxygen, then the CNA will be in charge of the oxygen supply and the equipment through which the oxygen is supplied.
- Maintain patients’ healthcare records – CNAs keep note of a patient’s condition through healthcare records, and notify family members about their well being.
- Groom patients – CNAs assist patients in bathing, feeding, and dressing. They also provide hair care and nail care to patients.
- Educate family members in case of an emergency – CNAs must educate family members on best practices in case of an emergency. Some practices include knowing signs of a stroke or heart attack, performing CPR, or what to do if their loved one has fallen.
- Perform housekeeping – CNAs cook food, clean the patient’s room, shop for groceries, and perform other housekeeping errands as described in the care plan.
- Maintain a healthy environment – CNAs are responsible for maintaining a healthy environment for patients. They keep the environment clean and neat, taking every possible measure to prevent the spread of infection.
- Adhere to patients’ nutritional requirements – When providing food to patients, CNAs adhere to any and all dietary requirements.
- Make patients’ beds – CNAs make beds, as well as change bedpans, catheters, and soiled sheets.
- Manage equipment – Patients with portable toilets, lift chairs, lift beds, wheelchairs, and other devices, often need help using them. CNAs provide that help, as well as keep up the cleanliness of medical equipment.
Qualities of a Good CNA in Home Care
For many, nursing is more than a career — and home care takes that to another level. Requiring long and sporadic hours, home-care CNAs must be dedicated to their jobs and their patients. Below are a few of the qualities of a good CNA
working in-home care:
- Passionate about helping others – A good CNA is passionate about their job and helping others.
- Caring and compassionate – Serving some of the most vulnerable people, a good CNA is caring and compassionate towards their patients and their families.
- Empathy – Being empathetic towards patients is just as much a CNAs job as is checking vitals or administering treatment. A good CNA makes each patient feel heard, without passing judgment.
- Communication skills – CNAs must have excellent communication skills.
- Attention to detail and protocol – A good CNA pays solid attention to detail and protocol in order to keep their patients as safe and healthy as possible.
- Respect – CNAs must remember that their patient is more than just a patient.
Nursing is a difficult profession, but a rewarding one at that. With home care, especially, nurses are given the opportunity to make meaningful connections with their patients and their respective families. Often working one-on-one, nurses are given a unique chance to change a patient’s life through care and comfort. Those looking to know their patients on a personal level, outside of a hospital setting would enjoy a career as an in-home nurse aide.