Interacting With Patients

What it all comes down to is interaction with residents. In life, and in interacting with other human beings, we play roles and follow scripts. When you go into a restaurant you play the role of a customer. You sit down, pick up a menu, order, eat, pay and leave. The waiter plays his role, bringing you the menu, taking your order, bringing your food and taking your payment. Having roles and scripts makes it easy to deal with each other smoothly.

As you become a certified nurses’ aid you will learn to fill a new role with a new script. As you learn your role, try to find a role model who is what you would like to have taking care of you or a member of your family. Your role model could be a teacher or a member of staff where you work. You might have more than one role model. Watch how your role model or models interact with the residents.

Entering a room, you will want to greet the resident and introduce yourself by name and job title. Always wash your hands before starting work and between residents. Washing your hands in the resident’s room offers the resident reassurance that you will not pass diseases around. Then explain what you are about to do, whether it is provide a bed bath, help the resident out of bed, serve breakfast, or perform some other task. At first you might feel unsure of your new role, but that should not be communicated to the resident. Residents need to feel that the person taking care of them is competent and confident, so believe that you fit well into the role. You are probably more competent than you think, because you have practiced the procedure in the classroom, so be confident with your new knowledge and skills.

Talk with the resident as you would with a friend or relative you were visiting in a nursing home. You would probably ask that friend or relative how he or she were feeling. If the resident has complaints, such as pain or side effects of medications, tell the nurse on duty. If the resident has no complaints and appears happy, general conversations about the weather or news can help you to bond with him or her.

Before you perform a procedure, read the procedure manual if you are unsure how to go about it. Gather everything you will need before entering the resident’s room, so that you will not have to go find anything midway through your work. Always check the resident’s armband before beginning. Asking the patient his or her name is not the best means of identification, because residents can be confused or have difficulty hearing the question.

Work as efficiently and gently you can to make the resident feel that he or she is in good hands. When you have finished your procedure make the room at least as clean and neat as it was when you found it.

If patients have questions, answer them if you know the answer. If you do not know, do not try to guess. It is better to admit to not knowing than to try to guess. If you do not know the answer, tell the resident that you will find out, and ask the appropriate person, or advise the patient to ask the appropriate person, such as his or her doctor.


Q. True or False:  Certified nursing assistants often spend the most time interacting with patients out of the entire patient’s healthcare team?

A.  True:  In many healthcare settings, CNAs will interact with patients more than doctors, nurses and other members of their medical team.  Nursing assistants will interact with patient several times throughout their shift.

Explanation:  Nursing assistants are typically responsible for a great deal of a patient’s basic care needs.  They assist patients with many daily living activities and other daily tasks.  This results in a CNA spending a lot of time interacting directly with their patients throughout the day.  A CNA should be prepared to interact well and often with their patients.

Q.  What are the things you should tell a patient each time you enter their room?

A.  You should always introduce yourself to patients before you enter into their room.  Let them know that you are a nursing assistant and will be one of the people helping to provide their care that day.  Always tell a patient why you are in their room.  Explain any procedures you will be completing in as much detail as possible.

Explanation:  You should interact with a patient before starting any procedures.  Give the patient time to ask you questions that they might have.  You should also make certain that the patient is comfortable with what you need to do.  Give them time to give or deny permission for you to proceed with that particular procedure.  Always be friendly and kind when you are interacting with patients.

Q.  Why is it important to be a good listener when working as a certified nursing assistant?

A.  As a nursing assistant, you will spend most of your day having direct contact with patients.  It is important to listen to your patients in order to help them to know that you care and to help them have a positive outlook even when they are having health problems.  When you listen to your patient, you can also pick up on concerns about their health as well as other struggles they might be having.

Explanation:  Listening to your patients can go a long way in making them feel better.  When an individual is in the hospital or a care community, they are often lonely and afraid.  You can help to make them feel better by offering a listening ear.  If you listen to your patients, you can also pick up on health and other concerns that need to be reported to other members of the healthcare staff.

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