The Importance of a Nursing Assistant for the Elderly

In-home Assistance for Elderly Rancho Bernardo Neglected Prescriptions

Nursing Assistants Make A Big Difference in Quality of Care

Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated positions in the medical field is the nursing assistant. While it doesn’t take the same amount of schooling that becoming a registered nurse requires, it requires a balance of medical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and compassion. Because of this unique blend of skills, nursing assistants are vital to ensuring the long term well-being of elderly patients.

Responsibilities of a Nursing Assistant

Many people don’t fully know the dedication and responsibility that it takes to be a nursing assistant. While your loved one is in the hospital or nursing home, his or her primary interaction will be with the nursing assistants on staff. Not only are nursing assistants responsible for taking vital signs and tracking a patient’s progress,  they are also responsible for making sure that a patient is comfortable during their stay by bathing, dressing, and helping elderly patients with daily activities. They routinely do behind the scenes work that often goes unnoticed as well, such as preparing meals, sterilizing equipment, issuing medical supplies, and manning the intercom. Because of the many job responsibilities required for nursing assistants, many people within the medical field refer to them as the backbone of the healthcare system.

Benefits of a Good Nursing Assistant

Not only will a good nursing assistant keep your loved one comfortable during her time of need, but a good assistant could also help save her life. Nursing assistants are often faced with split second decisions that could be the difference between life and death. While doctors are often unable to be in the room with the patient on a regular basis, the nursing assistants are usually the first ones to respond to a patient’s call. With this, nursing assistants are often the ones that have to make snap decisions when they encounter a patient in distress. When this happens, their quick action and expertise can be lifesaving.

A nursing assistant that is friendly and outgoing can also help during a hospital stay. A cheery disposition and an energetic mood can go a long way in keeping patients in a good mood. Elderly nursing home and hospital patients are key benefactors of cheerful nursing assistants, as they often become valued companions during the patient’s time of need. Because they spend so much time in patients’ rooms, they often develop an important bond that can further aid the recovery process, and because they see the day to day recovery and progress, nursing assistants are able to continue to encourage and motivate patients to continue to improve and return to normalcy.

What to Look for in a Nursing Assistant

While you don’t get to choose a nursing assistant for your loved one, if you see any warning signs, it is important to let the hospital or nursing home know that you are unhappy with the nursing assistant. When you are watching the nursing assistant interact with patients, she should be easy going and flexible, not letting minor setbacks discourage her. She should also be respectful, compassionate, empathetic, and caring towards her patients. Having good communication skills with her patients and treating them how she would want to be treated will go a long way in making patients feel respected and cared for, but a disrespectful nursing assistant can discourage a patient and inhibit progress and recovery. Because of the nature of their job, nursing assistants must also be calm under pressure and have endurance. Being on their feet for hours on end is no easy task, but assistants that can maintain their composure during an entire shift will be a great asset during the recovery process.

Whether your elderly loved one is in a nursing home being cared for or recovering in the hospital, a good nursing assistant can make all the difference in how your loved one reacts to treatment. These often under-valued workers are an integral part of the healthcare field, and will be with your elderly relative through every step of their stay in the nursing home or hospital.

Joyce Apperson

About Joyce Apperson

Joyce Apperson is a Registered Nurse and Geriatric Care Manager with 15 plus years of experience working with advocating for seniors. She is the founder and President of Caring Connection, Inc., which provides in-home care and geriatric care management in Harford County, Baltimore County and Cecil County in Maryland. Joyce currently serves on the Harford County Advisory Board on Aging. In addition to writing articles here for the Caring Connection's blog, Joyce has been a regular contributor on senior care topics to the County Gazette.