When a patient enters hospice care, questions about support often arise:
“Who will be their direct caregiver?”
“Will all of their needs be met?”
“Will they be comfortable?”
These concerns are extremely common. Caregivers always need reassurance that their loved ones are in capable hands. It is the job of medical professionals to provide the information and support that they need to feel secure with their decision to put a family member in hospice.
Here, we provide a detailed explanation of one of the most crucial members of the hospice clinical support team so that you can talk to your patients and their families about why hospice could be the right choice for them.
With hospice, patients receive a wide range of attention from a variety of sources, including nurses, social workers and chaplains. A lion’s share of the consistent care is who provided by certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, who ensure Crossroads patients receive exemplary and unparalleled support.
CNAs are found in most medical facilities, and are responsible for the personal care a patient might need, such as:
Changing the sheets
Helping patients walk
Reminding patients what they need to do next
“Our CNAs are responsible for so many little, but extremely important, caregiving measures,” explains Dee Mitchell, Assistant Clinical Director of Crossroads Philadelphia. “The CNAs dive into a patient’s needs whenever they see a need.”
That is because a CNA’s work is centered on one concept: comfort. No two people have the same needs, so to ensure everyone is as comfortable as possible, a registered nurse creates a plan of care that is tailored to the patient’s specific wants. A CNA is responsible for executing this plan, and making sure all personal care issues are met.
Another important role of a CNA is to monitor any health changes they see. Without thorough, diligent interaction, this wouldn’t be possible. “CNAs are always aware of what’s going on with their patients. They let the RNs and staff know exactly what is happening on a regular basis. Because of their close relationship with the patients, often times, they’re the first to know if there’s an issue.”
When a patient’s health declines and they enter their final days, CNAs play a fundamental role in our Evenmore Care program, which ensures patients receive the best care possible before leaving us. Mitchell knows that CNAs increase the level of comfort care administered during a patient’s final days. “We sit a CNA at the bedside of the patient and they are WITH them. It is incredibly reassuring to everyone to know that a trained and caring professional is there.”
Specifically, Mitchell explains, “When someone’s at the end of life, they lose control of the ability to regulate their body temperature. If they get a fever, the CNA would notify the attending RN, family, or the facility, and with the direction from the nurse, they would take every possible step to make the patient comfortable. A cool washcloth, some ice … Whatever can be done, the CNA is prepared to do.” This is what makes Evenmore Care such a crucial part of the Crossroads philosophy.
Sometimes, it’s just the presence of someone else in the room that helps calm patients and family members. “CNAs fill that seat. They’re another person to be with the patient, and to help support their family. People are afraid to be alone when someone dies, and so the CNA presence can offer some peace,” says Mitchell.
Clearly, CNAs job description goes far beyond the physical task. “They probably build the most important relationship with patients because they are with the patient more than anyone else in most cases. The CNA is the face that the patient and the family see the most, and probably the most remembered.”
Caring and comfort go hand in hand, so the strong relationships CNAs build often leave a lasting impression. The emotional connection means that many CNAs consider the work they do more than just a job. Mitchell has multiple tales of particularly dedicated CNAs who makes sure patients feel their best—and look their best too. “At the end of a person’s life, CNAs often try to bring a little beauty into their patients lives. Hair, make-up, fingernails… Who doesn’t want to look nice? The little things can make a difference to everyone. Crossroad CNAs always jump in to do whatever will make a patient happy.”
In a place where support is synonymous with comfort, a CNA’s work is essential to the work we do. “I love what our CNAs are able to do They go above and beyond.”
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