Being a successful CNA takes dedication, patience, a willingness to never stop learning, and flexibility. You should always strive to care for residents to the best of your ability and work towards culture change. Culture change means focusing on the residents’ needs, assisting them to make choices they want to make and providing care at the highest standard possible. Your hard work builds up a good reputation, and believe me, you never quite know where it could take you. I am an English CNA here in the United States who started work many years ago as a part-time aide on the floor. I didn’t even know then if I could handle what the job involved, but I soon grew to love the residents I cared for, and if nothing else knew I was all about encouraging good teamwork within the whole home. I went to full time, working all shifts, and worked at a few homes, including one for physically disabled adults, which was a unique opportunity in itself. That was in the mid-1990s and they were ahead in the culture change process. Residents were very involved in creating their care plans and choosing where to go on outings. They had a variety of menu choices and even a residents’ council meeting every two months. When I applied for the job there, I was interviewed by the branch manager, a resident, and a lead CNA. They all were involved in making hiring decisions. I worked there for a year before going back into caring for the elderly as a lead CNA at a nursing home, where I was very much involved in training new staff and assisting one very good nurse doing the weekly stock order for incontinence supplies. I then became a resident warden (this was still in the 1990s – this position is now called a home manager) at an assisted living home for almost two years, overseeing about 30-40 elderly residents. I took on board the things I had learned and supported from my previous work, and we had a monthly resident meeting where residents decided where any fund-raising monies were spent, what activities they wanted in the home, what outings they wanted to go on and furnishings they wanted for the communal areas of the home. I only left this position to come to the United States, where I felt I started all over again by working as a CNA on the floor at a nursing home for three years.
I still felt I wanted to do more. So I became a CNA quality specialist, traveling to nursing homes all over Arkansas helping other CNAs improve the care they provided and assisting facilities with survey compliance. I learned so much in this role and am moving on again to become an assistant administrator for a couple of homes, still being involved with training and educating other CNAs and promoting culture change. I am still a CNA and have been for about 17 years now. You never stop learning, your approach is everything and you can achieve a lot, whether you work the floor, become a nurse, or, like me, have the wonderful chance to educate fellow CNAs and inspire them to be the best they can be. Keep up the good work, CNAs, and find your voice. If you have a suggestion to improve care or improve something for the residents, let yourself be heard.
Sound like Heather is our cup o tea!