Does One Hand Know What the Other is Doing?

Hello everyone,

Last week we highlighted the importance of communication between caregiving staff and people with dementia. We are also learning about another challenge you face: improving communication between your nursing assistants.

While nurses have a change of shift report to update the incoming nursing staff about medical issues with residents, CNAs rarely have the same opportunity to do this with their counterparts. As a result, important information about residents often does not get communicated between members on the front line—the direct caregivers who generally spend the most time working with your residents.

What if Mrs. Smith didn’t sleep well last night? Or Mr. Ramirez had an upsetting visit with a family member earlier in the day? Or Miss Lucy just isn’t acting like herself today and could use some extra attention? These situations can all impact how a CNA might approach a resident, and knowing this information can better help a CNA do his/her job to provide effective person-centered care.

One idea for improving communication between nursing assistants is to develop a quick “Shift Report” check-off sheet where CNA’s can quickly and efficiently note any exceptional behaviors or incidences that the next shift should be aware of. Another is to have one CNA stay 10 extra minutes so he/she can communicate any important information to a representative CNA from the next shift, who will then share the info with other CNAs. You might also consider having GNA’s verbally record a quick change of shift report using an iPad or other device if your facility uses those.

Let us know your thoughts on this, and any ideas you’ve tried that have worked. Remember—an idea doesn’t have to be perfect to give it a try! Something is better than nothing when it comes to finding ways to practice person-centered care, and consistent communication is a key piece of that effort.

Have a great week!

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