Category Archives: CNA organizations

Alice in Wonderland

The thoughts flit through my mind at a dizzying pace, a kaleidoscope of colors and frenzied impressions that dance around the idea of what could be and what already is. We are in New Orleans. The Big Easy. A city that has no shortage of whimsy and magic in its own right but to be here to present to the world our writing? To be given a platform in which we can shout our truths in the hopes of reaching others on our path to deep, meaningful and lasting change?…that’s surreal.
It wasn’t an accident that I chose “Alice” for my pseudonym. As a child, Alice in Wonderland was my least favorite fairytale. It made no sense. I much preferred Robin Hood. Now THAT was a story I could sink my teeth into. So, it came as a quite a surprise to me that after a great amount of life experience, I awoke one day in my mid thirties only to realize that my LIFE was wonderland and I am indeed Alice.
Call it fate, providence or synchronicity, I never believed it was an accident that I crossed paths with Yang and May. The odds of meeting two like minded caregivers across the country with such an amazing talent for writing and dedication to expressing truth and impacting change would be slim in any case, but the fact that we have worked together fluidly for two years without meeting one another until this week? The fact that our different styles and voices flow together in a way that is harmonious rather than clashing? The odds of us being offered such an opportunity by the Pioneer Network to speak out and reach others? No. That is more than coincidental.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. The truth, as I see it, is this: We are on a path that is uniquely suited to us. We have not only the opportunity but the obligation to follow through to wherever this journey may lead and in doing so, we will impact the lives of the most vulnerable among us for the better. We will impact our OWN lives for the better and what we learn on the way will forever enrich us in ways that we cannot imagine. This I know to be true.
Lasting change may not happen on my timeframe but it does happen. I cannot properly express how grateful I am to the Pioneer Network, everyone involved and all who attended, for seeing in us the message that fits so perfectly with their vision or Yang and May for being such a vital part of my life or how much hope our collaboration has brought me these past two years. I only know that the three of us will continue to speak our truths, shouting it when necessary and as much as we can, be the voice for those locked in this deeply flawed system. We will never give up. Of that, I am absolutely certain.
As I sit outside, watching this whimsical city in all its wonders, I feel bittersweet about leaving in the morning. This conference has been the biggest and most fulfilling achievement of my life and it’s sad that it’s almost over. But in my heart of hearts I know it is but the first step of a journey that is sure to be a thousand miles and I am so excited to be a part of whatever comes next. In the meantime, we will continue to write and remind you, our readers…our friends, that each and every one of you matter and each and every one of you can and do make a difference. So don’t ever let the world convince you otherwise. Shine on, my friends!

The First CNAs: Career Nursing Assistants

NAWeekToday is National Career Nursing Assistants Day. It is the first day of the 39th Annual Nursing Assistants Week, sponsored by the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants.

According to the NNCNA website: “The annual observance of Career Nursing Assistants’ Day and Nursing Assistants’ Week began in Ohio in 1977 as the Ten Year Club, and expanded nationwide by request in 1985. Since that time, this popular nursing assistant recognition program has grown to include thousands of facilities and organizations joining together each year to recognize and honor nursing assistants in long-term care services.”

NNCNA Founder and Director, Genevieve Gipson (“Jeni”) tells us that there was a time when caregivers weren’t even referred to as nursing assistants or nurse’s aides, but simply as “the help.” According to Jeni, caregivers “lacked any kind of training, identity, or recognition” and the organization was established to help provide all three.

In a 1977 meeting of the Nursing Assistants’ Representatives Committee of NE Ohio under Jeni’s direction, the issue of an appropriate title for caregivers was discussed. “As we were struggling to come up with a suitable title for the job, a caregiver interjected: ‘But, Jeni, to me this is not just my job – this is my career.’ And we all thought the word ‘career’ should absolutely be in the title.”

Thus the first CNAs: “Career Nursing Assistants.”

There are those who reject the idea of a “career” nursing assistant. They regard caregiving as nothing but an entry level position, a stepping stone on a career path that leads to positions requiring advanced education and ever greater responsibility, pay and prestige.  It can be that, of course.  Working as a caregiver can provide invaluable experience and insight that can serve those who choose an “upward” career path for their entire lives. It is often said by caregivers that the best RNs worked as CNAs.

But, there are those who do choose direct care work as their career. The Long Term Care system and the residents who are served by LTC benefit a great deal by those who make that choice. In a system beset by chronic high turnover rates of direct care staff and is now threatened by a looming staffing shortage crisis, career caregivers provide continuity of care and the kind of leadership so desperately needed in the trenches of Long Term Care.

Despite their value, career caregivers continue to suffer from low pay, inadequate training, and a lack of real support. Long Term Care needs to do a better job at investing in these remarkable workers.

It is right that we take a day to recognize the value of these deserving workers and honor them for their contributions.

To help celebrate National Career Nursing Assistants Day and Nursing Assistants Week, CNA Edge is offering a free download now through Saturday of our book CNA Edge: Reflections from Year One. The book is a collection of over 80 essays about Long Term Care written from the perspective of CNAs. For Kindle Unlimited Subscribers go to: CNA Edge: Reflections from Year One. Or, to get the book in a PDF via email, please contact us at cnaedge@hotmail.com with “Request Year One” in the subject line.

For more on the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants and NAWeek go to:cna-network.org

National Nursing Assistants Week

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Yang

Next week marks the 39th Annual National Nursing Assistants’ Week. “NAWeek” begins on June 9th with National Career Nursing Assistants’ Day – “a day to recognize nursing assistants who dedicated their lives to the well-being of others for 5 to 58 years” – and runs through June 16th. The theme of this year’s NAWeek is “I Choose Respect.”

NAWeek is sponsored by The National Network of Career Nursing Assistants. Longtime director of the NNCNA, Genevieve Gipson, has been advocating for direct care workers for over fifty years and is currently working with numerous National NA groups on legislation issues, promoting recognition of nursing assistants, education, research, and peer support development for nursing assistants in nursing homes and other long term care settings. We’re working to get Jeni to appear on CNA Edge as a guest contributor so that she can share her wisdom and insight with our readers and give us her take on NAWeek and the NNCNA.

Meanwhile, to help celebrate NAWeek, we will be offering a free download of the Kindle version of our book CNA Edge: Reflections from Year One from June 9th through June 12th. The book is a collection of over 80 essays originally published in 2014 as posts on this blog. We will post links here and on our Facebook page starting this coming Thursday.

For more information on NAWeek click here: National Nursing Assistants Week