I am a CNA. Certified Nursing Assistant. I’ve always felt that the title is misleading, like a “diet” nurse. Maybe that’s because I have always worked in long-term care in an assisted living facility. We don’t even have a nurse on staff. I’ve always preferred to think of myself as a caregiver. It’s amore fitting title. While there are elements of my job duties that are definitely nursing related, there are also elements of psychology, grief counseling, body mechanics, physical therapist, and advocacy. I am an advocate at heart. We have a difficult job in an impossible system, but the value of this career and the purpose it has brought to my life cannot be overstated.
I worked in long-term care for 35 years, 25 of those as a caregiver. While I’ve witnessed a great deal of progress in that time, I believe there is still a long way to go. From my perspective, the biggest problems in long-term care are created by the unreasonably heavy workloads and grossly inadequate pay of direct care workers. Meanwhile, the system routinely squanders precious resources in an effort to paper over the profound gap that exists between the realities faced by front line workers and the lofty expectations of those who set and enforce standards.
I am a CNA in a long-term care facility. I am also someone who believes in the power of communication. Communication between the floor and the office; between the long-term care industry and the world in general. All too often CNAs are seen as people who can’t do any better than a dirty job and I would like to change that. In my years as a CNA in a nursing home, I have met so many intelligent and compassionate aides who do not receive the respect they deserve for the hard job that they do so well.
We are the ones who take care of the residents. I don’t think it is said often enough: our voices are important. Our stories matter too.