Nursing Assistants are a unique group of individuals who are dedicated to providing patients with the best possible care. They work hard to make sure their basic needs are met. They often go the extra mile to provide patients and their families comfort. They are trained to work hard, multi-task, and assist Nurses with any type of emergency that arises on any given day. However, their goal is to help others feel better. Dealing with the harsh reality of dying and death can be very difficult for Nursing Assistants to deal with, especially for those new to the profession.
Dealing with the issue of dying and death is relevant in any field of the medical profession. It is even more common if you are working in a critical care of elderly care facility. This issue should be taken into careful consideration before a Nursing Assistant accepts a position in such a facility.
Since all people view death differently, a Nursing Assistant will be exposed to many things going on during this time, both with the patient and with their family members. For those who are very religious, praying and possibly figures from their Church will be present. Others are afraid to die, and fight for every last breath trying to hold on. Respecting the wishes of the patient and the family is very important during dying and death.
There are those Nursing Assistants who are upset when they have to deal with dying and death. They feel this is not what they signed up for. They want to help people. However, Nursing Assistants can be a great source of comfort and compassion for patients and their families during those precious last hours. Do all you can to keep the patient comfortable. Often, their mouths become very dry. Even if they don’t appear coherent, attempt to give them ongoing sips of water or ice chips. The lips may begin to crack, apply Chap Stick or Vaseline to prevent soreness.
Caring for dying patients requires you to remember details about them before they became so ill. For example, if a patient asked to be turned often because of soreness, continue to rotate how they are laying. Pay attention to their body temperature and adjust bedding, air conditioning, and heating as needed. A person will often become cold in the hours before death, so it is important to keep them as comfortable as possible.
Some signs of death Nursing Assistants should be familiar with include the loss of muscle tone, the slowing of circulation, changes in breathing, and blurred vision. It is important that the Nursing Assistant document such changes in the patient’s chart and immediately notify the charge Nurse of the situation.
While a patient is dying, the Nursing Assistant can help make the process easier for the patient. Adequate pain medications should be administered as needed to reduce the pain. Play the music the patient enjoys. Consider reading them a favorite book or Bible passages. Sometimes they will need extra comfort including someone to hold their hand. A Nursing Assistant can assume this role. Often, Nursing Assistants can rely on each other to help make the situation easier. Many employers also offer counseling services if you feel they are necessary after dealing with dying and death of one of your patients. It is often easy to become attached to patients you care for on a regular basis. Your employer is well aware of this, and will want to help you feel better in your role as a Nursing Assistant.