Patient Interaction

Communicating with residents is a big part of what nurses’ aids do. When you need to move the resident from a bed to a wheelchair you will need to enlist his or her cooperation. To help the resident to feel relaxed and well taken care of you need to communicate your abilities and confidence. Communicating that you are interested in the resident as a person will give that person a sense human interaction that can be lacking for residents away from their families and friends.

Verbal communication: In the 21st century it is common to address everyone by his or her first name, regardless of age, but there was a time when younger people addressed older people more formally. It is a good idea to ask your resident how he or she likes to be addressed to make sure that you are not seen as disrespectful or overly casual. Do not address a resident as “grandpa” or “grandma” unless he or she happens to be your grandparent. Be sure to speak with enough volume that an older person will be able to hear and understand you. If your resident wears hearing aids, help him or her to insert them early in the day so that you can communicate effectively. Remember to introduce yourself to new residents with both your name and job title. Always tell him or her what you are about to do so that the resident understands and is not frightened.

Asking how the resident is feeling every day will help you to uncover any complaints that should be reported to the nurse. If the resident complains of pain, report this to the nurse who is administering medications. Before leaving the room, ask your resident if he or she is comfortable.

Additional Reading: CNA Skill: How to Start Conversations and Send Messages

Non-verbal communication: When we think of communication we often think of the verbal kind, but other types of communication are equally important. When you appear professional it will give the resident confidence that he or she is in good hands. Always wear a freshly washed uniform with your nametag, a watch, hose, and clean nurse’s shoes. Hair should be neat and clean at all times. Trendy hair-dos that appear casual should be reserved for time away from work. Tattoos should always be covered.

It can be natural to feel harassed at times when there is a large workload, but try to maintain a pleasant expression and tone of voice. This will help to keep the residents in a positive mood.

Body communication can give residents a positive or negative impression. Walking fast and appearing confident will give residents the idea that you know what you are doing and are ready to perform as a competent nurses’ aid. Appearing timid or unsure or hesitating before beginning a task will send the negative message that you are not able to do the job, so always think of yourself as a good aid and let that show in your expressions and body language. If you can manage to smile and chat with the resident while casually performing your work, you will definitely project the idea of a competent, knowledgeable and professional aid. This might be hard to achieve at first, but if you keep trying it will become second nature.


Q.  Do nursing assistants typically have more or less patient interaction than other members of a patient’s healthcare team?

A.  In many healthcare settings, the nursing assistants spend the most time interacting with patients.  This is especially true in most continuing care and long-term care facilities. Nursing assistants provide assistance with activities of daily living for patients throughout the day, and as such are spending a good deal of time with the patients.

Explanation:  Many healthcare settings rely heavily on nursing assistants for the day to day care of patients.  As such, nursing assistants often spend more time with patients than the nurses or other healthcare staff members.  For this reason, it is especially important for nursing assistants to develop excellent skills in communicating with and interacting with patients.  They can truly make a difference in the day or night of a patient.

Q.  What are some of the ways that patients communicate with you other than in their verbal interactions?

A.  There are certainly non-verbal ways in which patient’s interact with you.  They can communicate to you through non-verbal cues.  Two of the most common forms or non-verbal cues are facial expressions and body language.  As a certified nursing assistant, you should be in tuned to both verbal and non-verbal language.

Explanation:  A patient can tell you a lot through their facial expressions and body language even if that language does not always go along with what they have said verbally.  Non-verbal cues can give you some hints as to how a patient is really feeling emotionally and physically.  Part of your job is to be aware of all the communication your patient has with you, not just the verbal communication.

Q.  How should you greet your patient’s when you are about to enter their room?

A.  It is important to knock on a patient’s door before every entering their room.  You should provide the patient with your name and let them know that you are their nursing assistant for that shift.  Tell the patient what you will be doing while you are in their room.

Explanation:  A patient has a right to know who is entering their room and why.  Here is an example of how you can enter into a patient’s room:  “Hi Mrs. Jones, my name is Sarah and I am one of the nursing assistants working with you today.  I am going to be taking your vital signs now.  Do you have any questions?”  It is always a good idea to ask patients if they have questions or concerns before you proceed.

This is a collaborative effort. The above text is constantly being updated and improved upon.

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