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Nursing home aide

Cathy Ferrell, geriatric nursing assistant, has been a nursing home aide for 29 years. She's worked at Keswick MultiCare for 14 years and nine months.

What does your job entail?

Among other duties: Bath and body assessments; resident admission; reporting change in condition; resident discharge; assisting residents with meals; fluid restrictions, encourage fluids; complete bed bath, whirlpool and body assessments; shower, shampoo, shave, nail care, and foot care; denture care, brushing of natural teeth; assist with bedpan, urinal, commode/toilet; transfer and positioning; use of full body lift and the sit to stand; use of lotion two to three times a day; incontinence care; making sure residents are in a safe and healthy involvement at all times; making sure residentsÂ’ protective devices are in place at all times; proper hand washing, proper handling of clean linens/carts; proper handling of specimens, and basic isolation techniques; documentation; and more.

What kind of schooling or training did you go through?

I went to the Watterson Skill Center June 1983, a six-month course that consisted of infection control, anatomy and physiology, communication skills, personal care skills and the rights of the resident. Theoretical and practical classes prepared me to perform my duties effectively and face challenges that come my way as a certified nurse assistant.

What inspired you to this career?

I have always wanted to be a nurse since I can remember. My mother was in the nursing field. She would take me and my youngest sister to her work so that we would see what she did for a living. She loved her job and had the passion of caring for the sick.

What do you like best about your job?

It allows me to enhance and utilize my skills. As a GNA, I hold the key to quality care for my residents because they depend on me to be their ears and eyes. I am responsible for communicating any changes in their condition. On a daily basis, I take pride in treating the residents with respect, kindness and dignity. I also enjoy working with my co-workers because together we are a team that provides compassionate care to everyone that comes to our facility.

What are the challenges?

I'm constantly challenged to find new approaches and better solutions. I enjoy exercising my creative experiences so that I can effectively interact with my residents and their loved ones. I want to be able to make a difference, and sometimes this is challenging. It is not easy giving up everything you have worked for to end up in a nursing home. It is a very emotional and stressful time for the resident and their family. As a caregiver, you must have a lot of patience and sensitivity to work with residents, families and other staff.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median wage as $24,010 in May 2010.

Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun
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