Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are educated and trained to help patients with home health care needs under the direct guidance and supervision of a registered nurse. Sometimes referred to as a nursing assistant or patient care assistant, the duties and responsibilities of a CNA are very similar to a home health aide (HHA).
What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?
CNAs act as the eyes and ears of the registered nurse in a patient’s home. They report pertinent information and help patients with their activities of daily living. They oversee safety precautions, and help patients with personal and household tasks they cannot perform themselves.
Some of a CNA’s duties include:
- Assists registered nurses in medication management
- Helps patients be as physically active as possible
- Assists patients with bathing, dressing, and grooming
- Plans and prepares meals to accommodate special diets
- Conducts light housecleaning
- Monitors patients’ pulse and breathing rates
- Provides emotional support to patients and their families
- Offer companionship through conversations, games, and other activities
As central members of interdisciplinary home health care teams, CNAs typically spend the most time with patients. They observe patients’ needs and serve as proactive liaisons between the patient, the clinical manager, and the family.
Certified nursing assistants are the front lines of home health care, helping patients stay safe and well outside of the hospital, enjoying their best quality of life with comfort, dignity, and independence.
What Is the Difference Between a CNA and an HHA?
Both certified nursing assistants and home health aides serve as personal care assistants to patients. Many of these patients are elderly, disabled, chronically ill, or in various stages of dementia, and need some type of help or companionship. However, while there are some similarities between the two roles, they are not the same.
Home health aides provide patients with basic, personal care, such as:
- Personal hygiene
- Grocery shopping
- Light housework
- Meal preparation
- Occasional transportation where state regulations allow
Although, HHAs primarily offer non-medical care, some states allow home health Aides to check vital signs and administer medications if supervised by a registered nurse or other licensed health care professional. HHAs are generally not required to have a formal education, although many have high school diplomas or GEDs. Some states offer training and certification processes to become a certified home health aide (CHHA).
Certified nursing assistants also provide companionship and non-medical assistance to patients in a home setting, and in certain states, also perform specific duties not performed by an HHA, such as:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring vital signs
- Transfers to and from beds, chairs, or wheelchairs
- Documenting changes in health conditions
- Reporting to doctors or nurses
CNAs must pass state licensing exams for certification. Community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools offer these types of formal training programs.
Another difference between HHAs and CNAs involve work environments. As their name implies, home health aides primarily work with patients in their homes. Certified nursing assistants, on the other hand, Frequently work in a broader range of health care settings, such as a hospital, hospice, nursing home, retirement community, surgical center, doctor’s office, or other care facility.
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If you or someone you love requires companionship and care at home, a certified nursing assistant can help provide assistance and promote health, safety, and independence.