The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) has been referred to as the unsung hero of hospice care. Their role, as part of the hospice or palliative care team, is crucial. Under the supervision of a RN (Registered Nurse), CNAs and Home Health Aides provide daily care to enhance a patient’s daily life, wellness and dignity – which includes essential and basic tasks, such as:
- Feeding the patient
- Assisting patient with grooming and using the toilet
- Bathing the patient
- Turning the bedbound patient
- Changing the patient’s linens
- Keeping the patient’s living space clean
- Assisting with the set up of medical equipment
- Stocking medical supplies
With the help of a compassionate and experienced CNA, patients have a less stressful and more comfortable experience during their in-home hospice or palliative care. It’s important to note that, although the CNA assists the patient with bathing and feeding, their credentials qualify them for a multitude of other important tasks.
In Praise of the CNA
As members of the hospice care team, CNAs not only provide physical help for daily tasks that may be too dangerous or taxing, but they are also in a position to provide emotional support. Hospice and Palliative care patients sometimes fear being alone. While CNAs are frequently nearby, helping with personal and intimate tasks, their close proximity makes them available to listen and care. A good CNA will have empathy and be a good listener.
Every patient is unique and has unique personal care needs. Aside from family members, the CNA is in the best position to remember each patient’s routine and specific needs. Their unique role allows them to observe what’s happening on a regular basis and in real time – so they can quickly report any changes to their RN supervisor.
Day after day, CNAs are the ones that assist with the everyday tasks that patients may find too difficult to perform. This support allows those with serious illness to stay in the comfort of their own homes. In addition, they provide much-needed emotional support which is essential in a hospice or palliative care setting. For those in end-of-life care, the role of the CNA is critical and irreplaceable.