Diana Barr, a 20+ year Certified Nursing Assistant at Chatsworth at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, took home Second Place in Florida Health Care Association’s 2019 CNA Essay Contest. This year’s contest focused on the theme, “CNAs: A Caring Touch That Means So Much.” Participants were given six topics to choose from – Dignity, Respect, Compassion, Listening, Communication or Standards of Care – and write about how these words translated into the caring touch they offer to their residents on a daily basis. Read Diana’s essay below on the importance of Communication – verbal and nonverbal – to residents’ quality care and quality of life.
Communication – A Caring Touch That Means So Much
Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages through verbal and/or nonverbal means. Communication helps to spread knowledge and information between and among people. The communication process does not only facilitates sharing information and knowledge but also helps people to develop better relationships with others. This essay will describe how my caring touch means so much for the residents of Chatsworth with a focus on communication.
Working in a long term care facility requires communication to be active while incorporating other factors such as patience, listening, compassion, respect, dignity, and caring. I have always enjoyed the company of the elderly while I was growing up as a child. Although I was enjoying their company, I never knew that years to come, my passion would be to work with the elderly.
As one ages, the loss of certain senses tend to occur. The loss of hearing is one of the disabilities that occurs during the aging process. As a result, I rely on my facial expressions and body language to assist in communicating with my residents. Both my facial expression and my body language set the tone whenever I approach a resident.
My 27 years of experience in working with the elderly have taught me to adapt to their many ways of communication. As such, whenever their communication method changes from verbal to non-verbal, I am able to comprehend what they are saying very easily. The fluctuation in change requires patience together with communication. Communicating with my patients in any form is impossible for me to do without exercising patience and compassion.
One of my most memorable moments in using effective commutation started off as a normal morning. Few hours before my shift changed, I routinely checked on my assigned residents. Upon my visit, I realized one of the residents was not responding to me like he always does. Despite the fact that his communication was non-verbal, I could tell from his facial expression that something was wrong. I communicated my observations to the nurse. His vital signs showed that his temperature was abnormal. I explained to him that his temperature was abnormal but he was going to be okay. He responded with a big smile. Various tests were performed which later revealed that he was suffering from an infection. He was given medication and was back to his jolly self within a few days. Despite the fact that this resident was unable to say that he was not feeling well, I was able to communicate with him through a caring touch while applying non-verbal communication.
We, certified nursing assistants are the foundation and heart of the health care. Therefore, communication with patients/residents and team members is of vital importance. I am thrilled to be part of this experience with the patients/residents at Chatsworth at PGA National.