Shift Report: It’s Very Important

I have been reading here and there about shift report.

How some nursing homes don’t seem to think the CNA needs to hear report. I think this is not only wrong, its bad business and a law suit waiting to happen.

CNA’s are the hands on care giver.

They are the eyes, ears, noses and hands of the health care team charged with providing care to residents. When a resident’s condition changes, does it not make sense that the first, and more often than not ONLY people who will have any direct contact with the resident KNOWS of the change?

Nursing home management, that decides CNA’s don’t need to get shift report are setting the residents AND AIDES up for potential injury, harm and distress. Physical and emotional. Nurses, going down the hall, barking out orders to the aides, AFTER the nurse has heard report is not acceptable. By then we have often done our first set of residents and it’s too late for some orders to be carried out. Or, the resident must be placed back in bed or otherwise inconvenienced. And it wastes time that which CNA’s don’t have a lot of.

Consider this. A resident fell on evening shift. At the time no known issues resulted from the fall, but the resident needed to be observed and assessed periodically until the doctor could see them the next morning. The doctor tells the evening nurse the resident is not to do any weight bearing activities until he sees the resident. Day shift staff arrive and are given their assignments and are told to go about their job. The aide assigned to the resident who fell has no way to know that a fall occurred… The CNA doesn’t get this info and transfers the resident via a stand pivot. SNAP. A hip is broken.

Consider this. A resident’s urine is noted to be dark and foul smelling. The resident cannot speak for herself but is continent. The day shift aide assists resident to the toilet, where she voids a medium amount of dark smelly urine…the residents usual habits indicate she won’t be voiding again until sometime after lunch. A sample was needed from the morning void but that info was never passed on to the aide in time. Now the resident must endure many more hours of discomfort and pain from the UTI she has, all because of a lack of communication.

A resident was up most the night. For whatever reasons, he could not get to sleep. He is known to have behaviors, and a trigger to this is being tired…the aides don’t get report. They find him in a deep sleep and think, “Oh well, he has to get up to eat!” and wake him up…and the aide gets punched in the face. A nice black eye and broken nose are the result. And time spent at a doctor’s office, ex rays, pain and suffering…all on worker comp billing. Because it was never passed on in report to allow the resident to sleep this morning.

Shift report is vital to CNA’s.

We NEED the information…even when it is repetitive and mundane, it is important. CNA’s must have this information BEFORE they asked to provide care. The little details are often so helpful to us. When we know Mr. Jones hasn’t slept all night, we will allow him to sleep in, to be the last resident we get out of bed. When we know Mrs. Smith might have a UTI, we will collect a sample – many times without being asked. When we hear that Ms. Brown fall last night, we will ASK if she is able to do any weight bearing.

Report doesn’t have to be this long boring ordeal.

Many facilities only pass on information that is out of the ordinary; the typical, usual and common information doesn’t always need to be shared. Normal vital signs, BMs, percentages of meals consumed and cc amounts of fluid intake are not overly important, especially if this information is logged in a book somewhere. On the other hand, elevated temps and B/P’s DO need to be passed on; a lack of a BM in 5 days NEEDS to be passed on; consumption of NO fluids has to shared.

Part of what every CNA needs is information
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We use our training and experience to make everyone’s jobs a little easier; to make our residents comfortable. We depend upon good communication from previous shifts and nurses to provide care that is safe and appropriate. Nursing home management should always insist CNA’s take part in shift report. It should be a mandatory expectation; and, taking this one step further, if an aide shows up late for work, he or she should NOT be allowed to take an assignment until they hear report


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