CNA Skill: How to Start Conversations and Send Messages

Whether you are new to the field of nursing or you are a veteran and your resident is new to your facility, communicating and conversation is vital.  How do you start a conversation with a resident? Does your resident require a message sent to the doctor, nurse or family member?  How do you go about doing that?  Communication is a skill set for the CNA; you must speak clearly, calmly, in a tone that abrasive and comforting not piercing or threatening.

A) Introduce yourself:  If you are working with a new resident, remember they may be a little tense because of the new environment.  Some long-term care facilities are more like hospitals instead of a home, so no matter how hard you try, the resident will still feel like they are in a hospital setting.  Assisted living residents are different, most are homey and comfortable.  Your job is to put your resident at ease.  “Hi, Mr. or Mrs. Smith, I am Sharon; I will be your aide for today.”  Be clear; speak in a comforting tone and smile, trying not to show too much teeth that might make your resident a little nervous.

B) Attitude:  The right attitude speaks volumes.  Save the fun bubbly personality for later on in the relationship with your resident.  Keep your voice light, cheery and comforting but do not go overboard with the bubbliness.  If you have a naturally high loud voice, tone it down to a comforting level.  Loud boisterous persons can have the opposite effect of calm and reassurance.

C) Ask Questions:   Ask short questions that require only a word or two answers.  Like, “How are you today?”, “Can I get you a glass of water?”, “Would you like me to turn the television on for you?”

D) Answer their questions:  Explain as much as you can about whom you are, where they are and answer their questions to the best of your ability.  If you do not know an answer, do not make one up, tell them you will get that answer for them as soon as you can and do it!

E) Respect:  Show respect by listening.  If you are having a problem understanding, or your resident is having the difficulty, slow down, speak clearly and ask questions.  Repeat back to them what they have said to you.  Do not interrupt them, let them finish speaking,

F) Sending messages: Sometimes a resident may have a request to see the doctor or the nurse.  Maybe they just want to inform the doctor or nurse about something.  Take a note pad and write it down.  Address the note to the appropriate nurse, even if it is for the doctor, and put it in her mailbox or slot, if she or he is not on duty, or you can leave it in the patients chart.

G) Sending Messages to family: Sometimes a resident may want to send a message to their family or a friend   if the resident is able to make the call, help him or her with it.  If you have to do it make sure to state your name and state why you are calling relate the name of the resident and pass the message on word for word?

Starting a conversation the right way with your resident will help put them at ease and is vital to building trust between you and the person you are caring for.  Speak to them, as you would have them speak to you.   Be clear and understanding, use a soothing tone, smile, and be relaxed.  Leaving messages, remember to state your name clearly and the reason you are calling and rely the message word for word as the resident asks.  Make sure to verify the message you have sent and has been received and inform the resident.

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