As a nursing supervisor, you are all too familiar with the basic (and often mandatory) inservice information presented to nursing assistants. At health care organizations across the U.S., CNAs sit through lessons on standard precautions, abuse and neglect, confidentiality and fire safety. Other common topics include nutrition, pain management and a variety of disease processes. Without question, these are all necessary inservices for nursing assistants.
However, to develop a team of top-notch CNAs, it’s important to go beyond what is necessary or mandated. Coming up with pertinent topics can be a challenge when you’re trying to fit inservice education into your already packed schedule. Here are some ideas for inservices that will get your nursing assistants thinking outside the box-and have a real impact on the quality of their client care.
1. Teach about Being Assertive
Top-notch CNAs are assertive people. They understand the difference between communicating passively, aggressively and assertively. They use their assertiveness skills to deal with difficult people and challenging situations. And, because they respect the rights of others without ignoring their own rights, they are excellent team players. Consider presenting an inservice that includes a “personal assertiveness assessment” so that your nurse aides can gauge their current communication style.
2. Examine Conflict in the Workplace
Try teaching your CNAs how to deal with on-the-job conflict. Provide them with practical tips for resolving conflict. Be sure to cover the dangers of gossip and bullying in the workplace and how they can handle conflicts with supervisors and clients. Armed with this information, your CNAs will focus less on “workplace politics” and more on the needs of their clients.
3. Discuss Maintaining a Professional Distance
One of the toughest things for anyone in nursing is to provide TLC to clients without overstepping professional boundaries. A top-notch CNA knows the difference between personal and professional relationships and can recognize the warning signs that professional distance has been lost. Giving an inservice on this issue will help your nursing assistants be caring without veering from the plan of care.
4. Promote the CNA/Nurse Relationship
In the same way that the relationship between nurses and physicians continues to evolve, so does the relationship between nurses and nursing assistants. Outstanding CNAs understand the importance of delegation, assertive communication and mutual respect. They know how to give a great report, how to make the most of their performance review and how to work together with nurses as a team. Consider presenting this information to your CNAs and your nurses for a real boost to nursing teamwork.
5. Practice Time Management Skills
Why are some CNAs better than others at completing their work on time? Nursing assistants who strive for excellence have learned how to avoid time wasters like procrastination, a lack of focus and a negative attitude. Help your CNAs become time savers by teaching them about setting goals and priorities and providing them with practical tips that help them work efficiently-whether they work in a facility or in clients’ homes.
6. Review the Normal Aging Process
During their short initial training time, nursing assistants learn a few basics about the human body. However, in order to enhance their observational skills, it’s good to give them more details about how humans age. Try presenting the information by body system. Talk about the lifestyle choices that slow aging and those that speed it up-and remind your CNAs how they can help their elderly clients enjoy a good quality of life.
7. Discuss End of Life Care
To be outstanding, CNAs should be able to handle the full spectrum of life, including the dying process. Give your aides information on the end of life, such as how to recognize symptoms that signal death is near, how to provide comfort for dying clients and their families and how to care for the body once death has occurred. Consider including information on death and cultural diversity and the stages of grief.
8. Brush Up on Mouth Care
Top-notch CNAs understand the importance and benefits of good oral hygiene and how it can affect not just the quality of their clients’ lives, but also their overall health. How about presenting an inservice that goes beyond the mouth care protocol for your workplace? Give plenty of tips for performing oral hygiene, dealing with dentures, and observing for oral and dental problems.
9. Delve into Basic Human Needs
To enhance your nursing assistants’ sense of empathy, give them an overview of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. During the inservice, review the five levels of basic human needs, how the levels relate to each other and how illness affects a person’s place in the Hierarchy. With a greater understanding of what makes people “tick”, your aides will excel at providing holistic, client-centered care.
10. Talk about Cost-Efficient Care
While cost-efficiency is always important in health care, it’s especially vital in today’s economy. Plan an inservice that provides practical tips for how nursing assistants can save money throughout their daily client care. Be sure to cover how to minimize waste and how time management, healthcare associated infections and medical errors affect the bottom line. Top-notch CNAs know that saving money today means better working conditions tomorrow!
Try incorporating a few of these topics into your current inservice schedule and see what happens. When inservice education goes above and beyond the norm, it spurs critical thinking, enhances the quality of client care, and encourages professionalism on the part of your aides.