Certified Nurse's Aides and Home Health Aides--Important People in Your Senior's Life

Who Are The CNAs and HHAs? 

If your elderly loved one has been in a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital then he or she has most likely been cared for by a CNA. If he or she is at home and needs home health care, again it is likely that an aide, such as a Home Health Aide, has been present at one time or another.

Aides or assistants are usually defined (socially and professionally) as "just" someone who works under  a nurse. But to your senior, they are so much more than "just" that. They are usually the people who provide the bulk of comfort and personal care.

In hospitals, nurses are busy with their job, which includes everything from mile-high stacks of charts and paper work to giving certain medications, starting IVs, wound care, and dealing with even busier doctors. Therefore they depend on aides to be both their eyes and ears when they aren't in the room. Since the CNA is the person who:

  • Provide showers
  • Helps with dressing
  • Makes beds
  • Changes linens
  • Transfers patients 
  • Helps with toileting
  • Take vital signs

they are usually the first to spot an issue that needs to be reported to the nurse. In the hospital they are also the ones that bring the meals, adjust beds, fetch water, tidy the room, and other tasks that involve caring for the physical well-being and comfort of the patient. 

In nursing homes you will probably find more aides than nurses. This is because they perform most of the care that nursing home residents need throughout the day. On a typical day, a CNA will do many tasks, including ( but not limited to) these, for your loved one: 

  • Wake them up in the morning
  • Assess them
  • Shower or bathe them
  • Shave them
  • Dress them
  • Help them to the dining area or bring their meal
  • Help feed them if needed
  • Make their beds (sometimes several times a day)
  • Tidy their room
  • Help them back to their room after a meal
  • Change them or toilet them 
  • Take them to appointments, therapy or activities
  • Talk to them
  • Help them to perform dental care or perform oral care for them
  • Bring them things they need or want
  • Relay information or concerns to the nurse
  • Help make phone calls
  • Chart meals, toileting sessions, wounds, etc. 
  • Assist the nurse with certain care procedures

They do these tasks as many times a day as needed. They are also the ones who calm agitated or upset residents, listen to their stories, hug them when they are sad, and forgive them when they are abusive. An aide can be doing this for more than dozens of different residents per day. 

If your loved one is at home, they may have a home health nurse that comes to the house to take care of their medical needs. In between his or her visit, a home health aide may come to help with showering, dressing, changing, grooming, and light housekeeping.

Sometimes, a person who needs care around the clock will be under the care of many HHAs, who work in shifts so that someone will always be at your loved one's side.

Appreciate The Aides

Just about everyone expects an aide to be able to perform miracles. Aides really wish they could perform miracles. 

Even though you have your bad CNAs out there, for the most part they are all hard-working, caring people who make a lot of personal sacrifices so that others are cared for. And they don't really get paid that well for what they do. 

If you know an aide, be sure to give them a smile. Know that they probably won't make it home today without being pinched, hit, screamed at, accused, bitten, covered in food, covered in bodily fluids and ragged out by a superior. 

Appreciate them because no matter how tired, irritable, burnt out, disillusioned, achy, overwhelmed and sad they might be...they will get back up tomorrow, put on their scrubs and a smile, and do it all again. 

For your loved one.