CNAs Are Speaking-But Are You Listening?
|With spring around the corner, now is an ideal time for reflection, renewal, and new beginnings-both personal and professional. As the earth bursts with new growth and blossoms, throw open the windows and refresh the environment-the long-term care environment. You may think that your facility, whether it's a nursing home, assisted living community, rehab center, etc., is doing just fine. Surveys are satisfactory, residents and families are content, and employees seem to be happy. But is it fine? While you, as an administrator, are often mired in the countless duties, drudgeries, and decisions critical to operating a first-class facility, the people who put a face on care-your CNAs-are your "eyes and ears."|
And they see and hear it all. CNAs also have a voice, and they have plenty to say-to you!
Relax, it's not all bad, as I discovered in September when I attended the Ohio-based Alliance Training Center's 16th Annual Nurse Aide Convention and Nurse Aide Olympics in Clinton, Ohio. Attendees ranged in age from 19 to 64, with new caregivers interspersed among many others with years of experience. I learned that this conference is the highlight of the year for attendees. It is an opportunity to learn, to share, and to celebrate their achievements.
And celebrate they did. Themed "The Sky's the Limit, The Endless Possibilities of Caregiving," 154 enthusiastic CNAs participated in sessions covering topics such as resident mobility, service, and more. They had a chance to compete using their caregiving skills, visit exhibit booths, and go home with fresh ideas, along with an assortment of gifts and prizes.
"That's nice, but where do I fit in?" you might ask. Well, you-the administrator and DON-were the subject of the opening session, "What Would You Change If You Could?" Leah Klusch, executive director of the Alliance Training Center and the driving force behind the conference, gave the audience the opportunity to "talk" to you. She urged the CNAs to tell you about themselves, the peaks and pitfalls of their jobs, and their relationships with their coworkers, and to offer you suggestions on how you could improve their jobs and overall organizational efficiency.
The nationally known Klusch, a dynamic educator and presenter, urged the audience to speak up and be heard. The session, supplemented by a questionnaire included in the attendees' conference materials, provided a lot of information, insight, and advice from CNAs that a savvy manager would do well to consider. Remember, they don't have your top-down perspective, but they do offer an enlightening look at your operation from the ground floor.
Who Are Your Aides?
A type of "generation" gap exists, however, between longtime CNAs and new hires. The more experienced aides believe that new hires are cut from a different cloth than in the past. They believe that there is a lack of compassion, dedication, work ethic, and sense of teamwork. On the other hand, new hires often feel that experienced CNAs use tenure to pass off their less desirable duties on them. Although this dichotomy is surely not universal, it was often mentioned in the questionnaires.
Of course, longtime CNAs know firsthand how their roles have evolved over the years. Where once resident care was their first and foremost responsibility, they now have to be familiar with computers, regulations, and privacy matters. Steven D., a 13-year veteran, comments: "More laws have come into play over the years, and we have more responsibilities than when I entered the field." Melissa E. agrees: "We have to know, understand, and follow more regulations, such as HIPAA, which means more paperwork." Along with the additional paperwork and documentation, Mary S. notes that "residents are more demanding today." Because of these added responsibilities, Gladys P. regrets that she cannot spend more quality time working with the younger aides.
Here's What CNAs Have to Say
Many CNAs said that if they could talk to their administrator and DON one-on-one, they could suggest simple ways to improve their job that would, in turn, benefit the entire organization. Certainly many attendees voiced dissatisfaction with such "lunch-bucket" issues as wages, benefits, scheduling, staffing levels, and uniforms. For example, Julie B. says that her "hot pink polo shirt" is too heavy to work in all day. Another aide suggested that a standard lift be made available in each corridor because it would be a great time-saver.
Here are a few more items on their wish lists:
If I Were an Administrator…
"If I were an administrator I'd encourage better communication between nurses and staff," suggests one CNA. Cecelia G. expands that perspective by adding, "Find out how workers and residents get along, and provide customer service tips to staff." Other tacks CNAs would take if they were running the show include:
Small Conversations Can Have Great Results
Call Leah Klusch, President of the Alliance Training Center, (800) 890-5526 for more information on the Nurse Aide Convention and Nurse Aide Olympics. To send your comments to the author and editors, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
|'The Sky's the Limit'|
A look at the 16th Annual Nurse Aide Convention and Nurse Aide Olympics
|Dozens of blue and white balloons hovered around the room and above the tables, and there were more than 100 prizes donated by vendors and corporate sponsors. CNAs, DONs, ADONs, and an administrator or two sat beneath the "clouds" to enjoy a day of education, competition, fun, and appreciation themed "The Sky's the Limit, The Endless Possibilities of Caregiving." Each participant received a T-shirt with the theme of the event as a remembrance of his or her participation. Throughout the program, for which each participant received a certificate for six in-service educational hours, teams competing in the Nurse Aide Olympics moved in and out of the party center's ballroom.|
On the lower level, 13 teams of CNAs from long-term care facilities across Ohio went through their caregiving paces competing in five events: handwashing, hair and nail care, mouth care/dentures, pulse and respiration, and perineal care. The judges, who were nurse educators volunteering for the daylong competition, totaled the scores and, at the closing session, the winners were announced (see below) and presented with first, second, and third place medals, trophies, and certificates.
While the "games" went on, screams, cheers, and waving hands suddenly erupted throughout the ballroom. The "Aviator" had dropped in "from the sky," his "mission" to deliver gift bags to lucky attendees. The energy continued throughout the day. And during breaks on that beautiful autumn day, attendees enjoyed the sunshine and strolled the grounds discussing sessions, catching up, or posing for photos with their coworkers.
Top finishers in the Nurse Aide Olympics were:
Sandra Hoban was on I Advance Senior Care / Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of the country’s longest-serving senior care journalists. Before joining Long-Term Living, she was a member of the promotions department at Advanstar Communications. In addition to her editorial experience, Sandi has served past roles in print and broadcast advertising as a traffic and talent coordinator.