Editorial: Celebrate nursing assistants

Editorial: Celebrate nursing assistants
June 15
05:00 2017

The public has heard of many days and weeks dedicated to various things. National Donut Day was touted recently, for instance.

But who has heard of Nursing Assistants Week, June 15-22? Who knows what a nursing assistant is?

Nursing assistants provide hands-on care to the nation’s frail, elderly, or chronically challenged residents of nursing homes and other long-term care settings, according to the website of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants. These women and men provide as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of the direct care – such as bathing – received by residents and clients in long- term care facilities.

The network’s website has many facts about nursing assistants, such as:

Each day, more than 4.5 million caregivers provide hands-on care to the those in long-term care settings. And the number is growing as an additional 700,000 new positions will need to be filled in the next 25 years.

Some people choose this career for decades.

The following findings are from the “Stayers Studies” (funded by the Administration on Aging, National Institute on Aging, 1997-98):

*28 percent stay five or more years in positions as nursing assistants.

*12.6 percent stay 10-55 or more years.

*Stayers maintain positive relationships with residents.

*Stayers value job security and peer relationships.

*The majority of Stayers had a positive experience with an older person early in life and this factor contributed to their decision to become a nursing assistant.

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients or clients with health care needs under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

These health care workers don’t get a lot of pay. These kinds of workers might start out working just to have a job, but those who remain love the work.

And families love the ones who take care of their loved ones with love.

At least one organization in Winston-Salem, the ACEY Group, has been recognizing nursing assistants annually during their week. The group is an affiliate of The Women’s Fund.

Why shouldn’t nursing assistants have a week all their own? We should celebrate them, especially because one could be taking care of us one day.

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