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CNA Edge: Reflections from the First Year

January 19, 2016

While the nation’s long-term care system seeks to develop increasingly sophisticated quality assessment tools and inspection protocols, the picture will always be incomplete without the insight of direct-care workers. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) serve as the backbone of the long-term care workforce. They provide hands-on care for residents living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care settings. CNAs spend the most time with the residents; they know them better than anyone; and CNAs are often the last people to have any meaningful contact with residents in their final years, months, or days on this planet.

The nature of the work provides caregivers with a unique perspective. They are able to witness firsthand how residents experience life in the long-term care system. Since they accompany them through that experience on a daily basis, they see and feel the impact of when the system is working — and when it fails. They are familiar with the flaws of long-term care in a way no one else can be: in intimate detail and within the context of the lives of the people in their care.

In 2014, there were a combined total of 115 posts to CNA Edge, a blog devoted to telling the stories of CNAs and what the current long-term care system looks like from the perspective of the direct-care worker. The posts deal with a variety of topics such as stress and burnout, preserving the dignity of our residents, how heavy workloads negatively affect patient care, and the impact that of all of this has on residents and caregivers. The blog explains what it feels like to be a caregiver: the unique blend of emotions that are widely felt, but rarely discussed.

The posts are written exclusively by CNAs and have become a single volume anthology, entitled CNA Edge: Reflections from Year One. The book is divided into three loosely defined sections:

  • Coping and Growth: The CNA and Stress,
  • Advocate and Caregiver: The CNA and the Resident, and
  • Perception and Reality: The CNA and the Work Environment.

This insightful and provocative collection is available on Kindle.

— by Anna Ortigara, PHI Organizational Training Consultant

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