Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are the unsung heroes of long-term care facilities. They are responsible for assisting residents with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. More importantly, they provide emotional support and companionship to residents who may feel lonely and isolated. However, the emotional labor that CNAs perform is often overlooked and undervalued.
CNAs spend more time with residents than any other care team member. They are the eyes and ears of the facility and are responsible for reporting any changes in a resident's health or behavior. They are also the ones who develop close relationships with residents and their families. This is particularly true for CNAs who work in memory care units or with residents who have advanced dementia.
When a resident passes away, CNAs often experience grief and loss. They may have developed a close bond with the resident and their family. However, there are rarely any resources available for CNAs to deal with their own feelings of grief and loss. They are expected to move on to the next resident as if nothing has happened.
This lack of support can lead to low morale, depression, and burnout among CNAs. It can also affect the performance of the entire care team. CNAs who are emotionally exhausted may be less attentive to residents' needs or may have difficulty forming new relationships with residents and their families.
It's important to recognize the emotional labor that CNAs perform and to provide them with the support they need to cope with the challenges of their job. This could include counseling services, support groups, or simply taking the time to listen to CNAs and acknowledge their feelings.
So, the next time you see a CNA, take a moment to thank them and ask how they are doing. A small, yet significant conversation can have a positive impact on their mental well-being and can help them continue to provide the high-quality care that residents deserve.