One of the requirements to enter the nursing program is to have a CNA license, so I took the Certified Nursing Assistant class this semester. As part of the class, we have to do 20 hours of clinicals (aka training) at a nursing and a hospital, with a 40 hours total. We did two 10 hour days on weekends a few weeks apart. This post is about my weekend at the nursing home, and later I will post about the hospital.
The first place I went was the nursing home. Honestly, I was dreading it. My teacher worked in a nursing home for a few decades before she became a teacher and was always ranting and raving about geriatrics. Every time she would say, 'Oh, they are just so cute, it warms my heart!' I'd want to kick myself. How could old people be cute in the sense that you'd want to be surrounded by them all the time?! Sure, when I see a little old man holding a little old ladies hand, it melts my heart because it's so darling, but working with them all the time? Didn't sound very fun to me.
Right off the bat the weekend started out rough. At a nursing home it's basically just CNAs that work there and do everything. There are a couple nurses and physical therapists and whatnot, but they don't really interact with the residents like CNAs do. Well, the CNAs that were working the 2 days we were there did not want us AT ALL. We were supposed to be paired up with them one-on-one and shadow them the first day to learn everything, but they ignored us the whole time and talked about personal stuff. Finally I jumped in and said, 'Just tell me what you need and I'll figure it out. I'm here to learn.' So she told me what she normally does and said I could do it if I want. She said it laughing and thinking I couldn't do anything but I figured everything out on my own because it's basically common sense. Honestly, that's how I like working anyways!
As the day went on and I found my energy after waking up at 4:30 am, I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought. The 'little old people' were super sweet and some of them were SO funny. One lady would just sit there speaking in Navajo and laugh at you! On the second day there was a nice CNA from another hall (so I didn't work with her) that was passing thru and told us some of the things she says. One of the tings she said that we should pay her to see her naked butt! It was busier than I thought it would be because everyone needed something all the time. Sometimes it would be a bathroom, and other times it would be someone escaping out the back door!
It was also fun having one-on-one time like when we gave showers. Sometimes they would just tell you stories while you cleaned them. A couple people were in their 90s! I can't imagine living in the early 1900s and being around with all the changes that brought us to today. It was also cute because after showers, all the ladies would tell you to brush their hair and 'push really really hard'. I felt like I would hurt them, but they kept saying, 'Harder please!'
Having that 'bond' with the resident though was super important, or I would not have liked the rest of the stuff I was doing. When I wasn't helping residents with 'regular problems', I was changing dirty briefs (diapers), wiping bums, walking 40+ people to and from the dining hall, doing bed pans, and changing beds. Mainly lots and lots and lots of brief changing.
One thing that was hard was seeing how sad some family members were. A wife of a resident came in and her husband needed to be in the assisted feeding room because he couldn't feed himself. I saw her look around the room and I could tell she was comparing her husband to the rest of the people in there. Some of them were just totally 'gone' and didn't talk or anything and some of them were mentally handicap. Her husband had just gone into retirement after having a respectable career but broke his hip and went downhill after that. I knew she was thinking, 'My husband has to be in a room with people like this?' and I just felt how sad she was about it. I started talking to her and at first she didn't want to talk, but after a while though she became much more calm and distracted and was really into our conversation. It's moments like this when I help someone that really makes me happy.
It's definitely not something I could do for a long time, though. I could see myself working in a nursing home for a day or two a week while I get through the nursing program, but I wouldn't want to be a CNA or nurse there. It's just too calm of a place for me. I thrive in an extremely busy and stressful environment, and getting people to and from BINGO just isn't too stressful! The only stress I could see happening is dealing with rude coworkers!
So there you have it, my experience 'working' in a nursing home! Keep an eye out for my hospital experience.