a working nurse & mother of twins

As a Certified Nursing Assistant, there are a variety of medical facilities in which your services are needed. While hospitals and small health clinics are considered the most obvious employment choice, if you’re looking for a challenging work environment filled with as many joys as difficulties, then a employment within a long-term care facility may be your ideal choice. Also referred to as a nursing home or nursing facility, these institutions are designed to care for people who need constant medical attention, but are stable enough to live outside of the confines of a hospital.

CNA Job Description – Long Term Care Facilites

These institutions may also be referred to as assisted-living communities, residential care facilities or group homes as many patients live in the facility full-time. When you work as a CNA within a nursing home, you are dealing with residents, and not patients. While technically the same, these two terms are vastly different, and therefore, your approach to patient care must also be different. Did you know that the average stay for a patient in a nursing home (or long-term care facility) is seven months to two years? Because of this unique amount of time spent with patients, CNAs are given a golden opportunity to not only provide outstanding care, but truly transform the health and happiness of their patients.

It’s not uncommon for people to stay in a nursing home for a few days or a few weeks, whichever is needed for them to regain their emotional and physical health through various rehabilitation treatments. Most often, residents of a nursing home are classified into categories.

Short Term Residents

As its name suggests, short term residents are those who stay in a nursing home for a small amount of time, typically less than six months. Often these patients are younger than the typical nursing home resident and are generally admitted directly from a hospital. The primary goal when dealing with short term patients is to follow the patient care guide to ensure they receive the type of treatment and care necessary for rehabilitation.

Because many nursing homes throughout the country have cultivated large sub-acute care units, which are specialized departments designed to treat acute conditions and illnesses, the percentage of short term residents is on the rise.

Long Term Residents

These residents are those who consistently stay at a nursing home facility for longer than six months. As a CNA, you’ll work directly with long term residents to support their overall patient care plan while providing them with the necessary quality of life to support mental and physical health. Your primary goal when working with long term residents is to help each one live a full and independent life, which may be more of a challenge than you would originally anticipate. However, with great challenge comes great reward. Many CNAs become close with long term residents and become an integral part of not only their patient care, but also their life.

*Note: Those of you reading my blog that are not currently CNA students but are interested in becoming CNAs can research CNA certification today.

In order to receive your certification in nurse assisting, you must become well-versed in what’s known as Standard Precautions, also referred to as Universal Precautions, when it comes to safeguarding patients from infectious diseases. While working throughout a health care facility, you’ll come in contact a host of germs, viruses and bacteria that if not checked and monitored could result in a mass outbreak within the facility, or worse, within the community. Therefore, one of the most important steps you, as a CNA, can take to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases is to follow the 10 standard infection control precautions as outlined by major health organizations and hospitals.

The 10 Standard Infection Control Precautions

The following 10 precautions are considered universally applicable for all CNAs, and medical staff in general. While your specific employer may feature an expanded version of these precautions, consider the following list applicable unless otherwise noted by your employer.

  1. Wear Disposable Gloves – These gloves are an essential aspect to the sanitation and protection of your patients and yourself. Never touch a sick patient or their belongings without wearing these protective gloves.
  2. Wash Hands and Surfaces – Immediately after your hands and surrounding environment becomes contaminated with bodily fluids, was these areas and surfaces thoroughly and with the provided sterilization solution. It’s essential to keep your eyes open for potential contamination so they may be treated immediately.
  3. Wear Protective Clothing – It’s imperative that you wear protective clothing, such as masks and gowns, when dealing with highly contagious individuals. However, your employer may require such protective gear when dealing with those who are not known to be contagious as an act of precaution.
  4. Eliminate Sharp Objects – After utilizing sharp objects, such as needles, you must immediately discard such objects in the designated bio-hazard container. Never place a used object on a counter or table, as this can easily transmit harmful germs and viruses.
  5. Cover Open Wounds and Cuts – If you have a cut or open wound on your body, you must thoroughly protect these entrances into your body with a sterilized bandage.
  6. Clean Bodily Fluids Promptly – Do not let blood or other bodily fluids rest for longer than required. Immediately upon noticing any bodily fluids on or around the patient, clean, disinfect and sterilize the area according to the requirements set forth by your employer.
  7. Handle Soiled Linens Carefully – When changing linens ñ especially soiled linens ñ wear protective gear and handle with great care. A myriad of germs and viruses thrive in linens, therefore it’s imperative to be mindful when dealing with such fabrics.
  8. Secure Contaminated Articles – Prevent spreading disease and illnesses by securing contaminated articles of clothing and other belongings as quickly as possible.
  9. Proper Waste Elimination – Make sure to place waste materials in a leak proof and air-tight container provided by your employer. Wear protective gear while handling human waste and other bodily fluids.
  10. Resuscitation Masks/Bags – Always have resuscitation masks and bags within arms reach when working with hospital and nursing home patients.