One Worried lil' CNA in Training

  1. Today was my first day in training to be a CNA at a long-term care facility.
    The whole time I just thought...what on earth have I gotten myself into!?
    We watched this video on Alzheimer's and the 4 stages and they were personal accounts of real families watching their loved one mentally die in front of them. It was so sad and depressing.
    We saw another video on bed sores showing real open ones and the lady talked about how part of the flesh dies and the doctor has to get in there and scrape it all off. I wanted to cry.
    Then she says that sometimes when you're feeding residents they spit the food back at you in your face and talks about how one CNA got her nose broken for bending down too close to a resident who socked her!

    Now, I'm not naive. I've got a strong stomach and a very strong urge to help people - especially the elderly because many times they cannot fend for themselves. However, is this what life as a long-term care CNA is like?
    The care and the gore doesn't bother me...it's the principle and the depression.
    Please tell me there are good times too.

    Shel
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   obeyacts2
    Quote from shel_wny
    Today was my first day in training to be a CNA at a long-term care facility.
    The whole time I just thought...what on earth have I gotten myself into!?
    We watched this video on Alzheimer's and the 4 stages and they were personal accounts of real families watching their loved one mentally die in front of them. It was so sad and depressingthemselves. However, is this what life as a long-term care CNA is like?
    The care and the gore doesn't bother me...it's the principle and the depression.
    Please tell me there are good times too.

    Shel
    THERE ARE GOOD TIMES.....When you know you have made a difference, giving comfort, and support. The Alz pts often desperately need to maintain a sense of dignity while receiving care. Decubs are largely preventable (not always, but often) CNA work done well is critical to avoiding these. The depression comes from isolation and loss of dignity. CNA work is hard and fast paced, but you are sometimes these pts link to the outside, esp when thereis no family involvement.

    Laura
  4. by   bilingueRN
    LTC brings its own unique problems. In a hospital, you may not see the same patient twice. In LTC, you see them again and again and learn all of their likes and dislikes, which is to your advantages. However, if you dislike a patient, they aren't going anywhere.

    Another problem is that you will work with people who are unqualified and make you want to scream when they don't care about the 83 y/o who is dehydrated and refusing fluids...:uhoh21:

    It is rewarding though, once you know your patients and can anticipate their needs. The first day is one of the hardest.

    Good Luck!
  5. by   nurseduck
    If you are in the classes for the right reasons than please continue on. We need good, caring CNA's. I started as a CNA and loved my time with the residents. Try to not get caught up in the politics in the facility. Keep resident focused and your residents will be the winners. GOOD LUCK!!!


  6. by   BabyRN2Be
    It sounds like you have your heart in the right place. At some places I've seen, the CNA is only there to draw a check (yes, I know that there are some RN's like that - I'm trying to be fair) and they really don't care if the resident gets turned to prevent ulcerations. If you can, stay in your classes, and take your caring where it is definitely needed. Hang in there. Yes, there can be a shock, but you'll get used to it. Good luck, and don't give up!
  7. by   Enjonel
    I worked a couple years as a CNA in a long term facility.
    When you see the bedsore tape, realize you can make a huge difference and prevent them. You can keep people clean and dry, and make sure they change position, and alert the nurse to reddened areas before they become open areas.
    When you see an Alzheimer's patient, realize you can make a huge difference by giving them a familiar face and routine, that you can help them maintain their dignity by seeing they eat, wash, dress, and are clean and dry... you can add to the family's comfort and decrease their sadness by showing them their loved one will not only be cared for but will be cared about. You can offer hugs to distraught family members because they will come to know you, and you them.
    What you have gotten yourself into is an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. You have gotten yourself into an opportunity to make hard times a little easier. You have gotten yourself into helping someone to die with dignity and comfort, to help someone who is confused rest a little easier and to help someone who just needs some help to get it.
    I hope I do not sound like a polly anna. I've been in nursing my entire adult life... 3 years as a CNA (back then nurse's aides), one as a LPN and 28 as a RN. Any aspect of nursing is difficult, but there are few professions where you can make such a difference in so many people's lives, making hard times just a little better, and that is what you have gotten yourself into. Not to sound corny, but it is a noble thing. And Welcome!
  8. by   leslie :-D
    once you get to know your residents, there's little that you'll find more fulfilling, imo. it's natural to feel this way on day one, but what the op said is so true, re: the HUGE difference you can make in their lives. you will be able to anticipate their next move (re: the combative ones), you'll know their routines; you'll pick up many tricks to make your duties unique to each patient; and you will be an immeasurable asset to the nurses, who depend on the cna's to report any changes in mental status, skin changes, functional status. take much pride in what you have to offer for these patients need you more than they can express.
  9. by   shel_wny
    Well, day 3 of training has come and gone and I feel better about all this.
    However...perineal care twice daily in addition to when incontinent. Holy smokes!
    I hope I can get used to the smells of that and emptying colostopy bags and catheters. I know that it would be wrong to have nose plugs because it could hurt the resident's dignity but gosh those would be handy.
    Any tricks other than breathing through your mouth?
    I thought about sticking an altoid up my nose. But ouch.

    Thanks so much to everyone for your encouragement. I'm still a bit weak in the knees because we learn at least 15-20 new skills each day with what seems like a million steps each, but I know I'll get through. I'm so lucky to have this opportunity to learn so much and help people at the same time, and even get paid for it! Hopefully this will make nursing school clinicals much easier.

    Shel
  10. by   jyoung1950
    I can take poop and urine but vomit and mucous makes me gag. I keep meaning to bring a jar a Vicks with me to dab up my nose. But it's not really the smell that gets to me; it's the greasy, sliminess of it. Blood clots get to me too.

    Sometimes, taking in a big breath through the mouth and holding it helps.
  11. by   leslie :-D
    there's no escape from the fumes, sorry. some of the cna's open windows but pretty much it's mouth breathing.
  12. by   Chad_KY_SRNA
    I have been working as a SRNA (CNA) for about a year and six months. Their is another side to it. Most of the residents in LTC facilities are sweet and loving, some of the Alzheimers residents can get violent while you are providing care. I have been punched, bitten, slapped, kicked, knocked down, and verbally abused by my residents but it is not an everyday occurrence. If it were no one would work as a CNA. You will have about as many good days, you will also get hugged and kissed and thanked. Bed sores should not happen ever! When you do bed checks turn the residents to relieve any areas of pressure and they shouldn't get bedsores. We have a lot of trouble in my facility with residents going out to the hospital and getting skin breakdown, our nurses do their best to treat the breakdown so it heals and doesn't become a large bed sore. It is not the nightmare that it is made out to be. You seem like you care and I think you will do well.
  13. by   mariedoreen
    Quote from shel_wny
    Today was my first day in training to be a CNA at a long-term care facility.
    The whole time I just thought...what on earth have I gotten myself into!?
    We watched this video on Alzheimer's and the 4 stages and they were personal accounts of real families watching their loved one mentally die in front of them. It was so sad and depressing.
    We saw another video on bed sores showing real open ones and the lady talked about how part of the flesh dies and the doctor has to get in there and scrape it all off. I wanted to cry.
    Then she says that sometimes when you're feeding residents they spit the food back at you in your face and talks about how one CNA got her nose broken for bending down too close to a resident who socked her!

    Now, I'm not naive. I've got a strong stomach and a very strong urge to help people - especially the elderly because many times they cannot fend for themselves. However, is this what life as a long-term care CNA is like?
    The care and the gore doesn't bother me...it's the principle and the depression.
    Please tell me there are good times too.

    Shel
    I remember feeling like this on day one of clinicals for my CNA class last summer. What have I gotten myself into? But keep going, what you're feeling is normal... if you're still feeling this when the class is done, then I'd say it might be beneficial to re-evaluate things. Just remember there will be things you don't like about the work and things you do. Don't allow yourself to feel that if you don't like part of the job you must not be meant to do any of it, that's not true. Let us know how things turn out!
  14. by   shel_wny
    Just an update...I've now worked on the floor a few full days and I completely LOVE it. The yucky parts aren't so bad as I thought they would be. It's just like changing a baby's diaper except the person is standing upright or lying down and the butt is a little bigger. I can handle the smell! I even got poop on my leg and it didn't phase me. I felt like superwoman.
    I feel like the things I do for these people that they cannot do themselves actually means something. I know I'm all new and sappy but I've never had a job in my life that really meant something. It's kind of neat.
    I get so many thank yous and kisses on the cheek. No one could ever say this job is thankless. I also love bringing my world in to them - telling them about the weather today, the outrageous price of gas, the cost of a loaf of bread, and the recent price hike for a gallon of milk. These things may seem silly and trivial but to someone who was a homemaker all of her life and in charge of weekly shopping back when bread was a nickel and milk was a dime this is freaky! I was talking with a lady who doesn't speak and right after I told her gas was $2.15 today she let out a "WOW!" It nearly scared me to death but then I was so happy because she really could hear me! Her eyes always seemed to know what was going on but I never knew for sure if she was hearing me.
    So no worries about me. Right now my only concern is passing the CNA clinical test.
    One slip and I'm sunk. *gulp*
    Thank you all so much for the encouragement.
    It really really helped.

    Shel
    Last edit by shel_wny on Jun 6, '04

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