Are Your CNAs In the Know about Sexual Harassment?

Regardless of your political leanings, there is no denying that the current presidential election has brought the issue of sexual harassment to the forefront.  As healthcare professionals, we know that sexual harassment is an important topic, mandated as part of every employee’s training by the Joint Commission, OSHA and state regulations.

Still, it seems as if most women (and some men) have at least one story to tell about a time they were sexually harassed.  Mine occurred many years ago, when, as a 22-year-old college senior, I landed an internship at a well-regarded children’s hospital.  Back then, parents weren’t allowed in the pre-operative area, so my role was to stay with the children and tend to their physical and emotional needs prior to surgery.

One day, as I was comforting a seven-year-old boy who was frightened about his imminent operation, the anesthesiologist assigned to his case came up to the boy’s stretcher.  Loudly enough for the patient to hear, he said to me, “I sure wish you’d hold my hand, lean over me, and talk softly like that…but I’d want you to loosen another button or two on your blouse.”  His words shocked me; I blushed, feeling both embarrassed and angry, but kept my attention on my young patient.

Later that day, I told my supervisor what had happened.  In turn, she relayed the episode to the Chief of Surgery, who asked to meet with me.  He apologized on behalf of the department and said that the offending anesthesiologist would also apologize.  I was told that he had been reprimanded both verbally and in writing in his personnel file.  Soon after, the anesthesiologist did apologize.  He kept his distance for the remainder of my internship and I suffered no repercussions from reporting the harassment.

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if I would have been so quick to report the incident had I been an employee at the hospital (instead of an unpaid intern).  Would I have potentially jeopardized my job and/or risked escalating the problem by reporting a man with whom I would have to work, day after day, month after month?  I’d like to think the answer is “yes,” especially because the physician’s offending behavior happened in front of a scared child whose life was soon to be in his hands.  But, of course, I’ll never know for sure.

Do your nurse aides understand what constitutes sexual harassment and how to respond if it happens to them?  Is “locker room talk” okay because it’s just words?  What types of actions are considered sexual harassment?  What if the offender is a person of power in your workplace?  What if the offender is a patient?

If your nurse aides could benefit from a better understanding of this important issue, consider our inservice, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.  It answers all of these questions, and more.  And, because it is such a critical topic these days, we are offering it at a 25% discount now through November 11th.

Sexual Harassment in the WorkplacePlease note that while the inservice was written for nursing assistants and provides them with one hour of inservice credit, the information in the module would be useful for any and all of your employees.

Best wishes,

Linda

Linda H. Leekley BS, RN, President, In the Know

 

Help Your Nurse Aides Make 2016 Their Healthiest Year Ever!

In our last blog post, we shared some resources that may help your nursing assistants ring in the New Year with a healthier outlook on life!  As we all know, one of the biggest health issues across America is the obesity epidemic…and those of us in the nursing field are not immune from it.  More than half of all nurses and nurse aides in the United States are overweight.  This isn’t surprising when you consider that nearly 70% of all Americans weigh more than they should for optimum health.

Let’s look back in time. In the 1950s, about a third of Americans were overweight but less than 10% of them were considered obese.  By 1990, more than half of all Americans were overweight and nearly 25% of them fell into the obese category.  Today, at least 35% of American adults are suffering from obesity.

 

While there are many factors that contributed to this rise in obesity, one that has recently been discussed in the mainstream media is our culture’s obsession with low fat foods.  For decades, we’ve been told to eat margarine, non-fat yogurt, skim milk…and to ease up on eggs, butter and other “fatty” foods.  Now, the experts are changing their tune.  Did you see the recent cover of Time magazine, declaring that butter is back?

 

A well-known nutritionist, Ann Louise Gittleman, has been trying to get across the message about fat for decades.  A New York Times bestselling author of 30 books, Ann Louise has this to say:

“For over 30 years, I have maintained my position against fat-free and low-fat eating.  I’ve shown how low fat can make you fat and why the right fats are the key to igniting effortless weight loss.  Eating the right fats can crush sugar cravings, stoke energy, promote longevity and ensure overall good health.”

In 1999, Ann Louise wrote a book called Eat Fat, Lose Weight.  At the time, her work was highly criticized by conventional dietitians, physicians and journalists.  Now, the nutrition world is catching up with her and Ann Louise is releasing an updated version of that book.  It is NOT a diet book but, rather, a primer that explains how eating a diet high in healthy fats (macadamia nut oil, anyone?) can help resolve health and weight issues.

Ann Louise has a special place in her heart for those of us in the nursing field.  Here’s what she told us:

“I have such great admiration for all nurses and nursing assistants. Thank you for being the real health advocates for the people under your care!  On a personal note, my niece, Shira, became a nurse recently and I couldn’t be more proud of her chosen profession!  And, during the extended care of my parents, the healing hearts and warm smiles of their nursing assistants and nurses filled me with gratitude.  All of you in the nursing field are truly unsung heroes and heroines. Please take as good care of yourselves as you do of others!”

While Eat Fat, Lose Weight is not a diet book, it does contain some fabulous recipes.  Here’s one that is going on my table during the holidays!

You can get the recipe for Avocado Key Lime Pie by clicking here.

If you would like to know more about Ann Louise’s work, check out her website.

And, if you are interested in reading Eat Fat, Lose Weight, you can take a look at it on Amazon.

The Health and Well Being of Your Nurse Aides

All of us at In the Know have boundless respect for nursing assistants.  Every day, they dedicate themselves to caring for people who are elderly, ill and/or disabled.  There aren’t enough words to thank them for all they do!

However, so many of us in the nursing field tend to take better care of others than we do of ourselves!  We are conditioned to put the needs of our patients/clients/residents first.  If that means only stopping for one bathroom break all day, so be it.  Or, if it means gobbling down a soda and candy bar for lunch, it’s just the price we have to pay.  But is it?  Shouldn’t we follow the same healthy advice we give our patients?  You bet we should!

During the month of December, In the Know will be focusing on steps that nurses and nurse aides can take to nurture themselves and improve their health and well being.  And, what better way to start than with the subject most of us dread around the holidays…our weight!

Recent studies found that more than half of all nursing employees in the U.S. are overweight.  And, it’s not just Americans.  Our neighbors to the north in Canada share similar statistics for people in nursing: 45% of them are overweight and 14% are obese.  Stress at work, lack of sleep, poor eating habits and no time for exercise are all factors that can affect weight.

If you (or your employees) struggle with weight issues, here are some resources that may help:

Do you wonder whether your weight falls in the healthy range?  Visit this site and plug in your height and weight to find out.

How about exercise?  You’ve probably heard that to maintain a healthy weight, people should take at least 10,000 steps daily.  Ever wonder how many steps you take in one day?  If you (or your employees) have a smart phone, it can count them for you…for free!  Whether your phone is an Apple or Android, look for an app called Argus.  It will track your steps, your weight, your heart rate and more!  And, for a wealth of information about exercise and healthy living, check out a great website: Shape Up America.  In addition to information, the site offers motivational support for people struggling to control their weight.

What about stress?  Is it affecting the lives and health of your caregivers?  Share this online quiz  with your employees to give them some insight into their stress levels.

As we all know, information is power.  By sharing these free resources with your employees, you may help empower them to make healthy choices for themselves–today, through the holidays and every day to come!

 

 

From the CNA Frontlines: Dealing with Loss and Grief

Today, our guest blogger, Corey Ann Rotella, CNA, shares more words of wisdom. This time, she turns her focus to the loss and grief that are a part of every nurse aide’s work life.  Corey says:

Loss.  As CNA’s, it is inevitable that we will encounter it at some point in our careers.  That aspect of the job has never been easy for me. This week, I lost one of my residents. I have taken care of her for six years and it really hit me hard.

Grief affects every CNA differently. Some folks I’ve worked with are able to simply chalk it up as part of the job; others seem to fall apart for a few days after a loss.  I have learned to compartmentalize. I save my grieving for off the clock, but I DO feel the losses deeply and they do affect me in a variety of ways outside of work.  Honing solid and healthy coping skills in our line of work is incredibly important.

“You just get TOO ATTACHED, Corey.”  I’ve stopped counting how many times I have heard that from friends and co-workers.  The fact is, I do get attached, but TOO attached? No. I don’t believe so. For me, the deep mutual trust that is involved in caring for my residents in their most vulnerable moments forms a bond between us. They open up to me about fears and grief and their lives “before” and, within reason, I share aspects of my life with them. In most instances, I think of them as dear friends and vice versa. This works for me and for them.  Grieving their loss is a vital part of my healing process. Knowing that I was blessed to have these wonderful people in my life for even a short amount of time enriches me, reminds me of why I am in this field in the first place and inspires me to stick with it.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. As long as it does not interfere with the care of our other residents or patients, I think it is healthy to work through it in whatever way is best for us individually. For me, talking about it with another CNA helps. Often, the families invite me to the funeral. Sometimes, that helps with closure.  Journaling is another way that I keep my memories and work through my emotions.

All of these tools are healthy and helpful, but there is no “quick fix” and there are times that dealing with loss really does become quite draining. I don’t always notice it at first because it’s not as obvious as “feeling sad.” It’s more like a nagging malaise; a weariness that effects my mood, if not my work, a vague anxiety. I’ve learned to notice the signs. It is at those moments that self-care becomes a necessity. That’s when I go back to the basics. Am I getting enough rest? Am I eating healthy? Am I taking time with friends and family? Am I drinking enough fluids? This simple check list is usually enough to set me back on the right track. It’s funny how it’s the little things that we often forget.

Accepting and growing from grief is not easy, but it is possible. Loss has the unique ability to put our own lives in perspective and crystalize what is truly valuable within them. I’ve been researching how to start a local support group in my area for long term care workers. I believe that it’s worthwhile project and would be an outlet for healing and learning from one another.

You’ve read how Corey copes.  Please feel free to share your own tips for coping with the loss and grief that you’ve experienced on the job.  We’d love to hear from you!

Have You Ever Said, “I’m Just a CNA”?

If you’ve ever said, “I’m just a CNA” or “I’m just a nurse,” then this little parable is for you! Our guest blogger, Corey Anne Rotella, CNA, shares a lovely story she wrote about the importance of acknowledging and celebrating your own worth.

The Little Dandelion

Nestled in a little town, no different from any other town, was a little house. It was old and weather-worn, with paint peeling from its siding and a porch swing that creaked on rusted chains. The house was owned by a couple who moved in shortly after they were married forty years ago.

Now, this ordinary couple in their ordinary house had a rose garden that was anything but ordinary and every year, hundreds of people made the trip to view it in all its glory.  Every variety of rose bloomed with such vibrancy and perfection that it took people’s breath away. It was an absolutely stunning sight and soon the garden had become quite famous.  On the edge of all this majesty, hidden by the shadows, stood two dandelions, one tall and the other little, who watched the endless line of visitors flooding in to view the beautiful roses.

“The poor beauties”, the tall dandelion sighed as she watched the people ohh and ahh. The little dandelion looked up in disbelief!

“Are you kidding me? You feel SORRY for them?! They’re perfect! You are a weed suffering from delusions of grandeur, friend.”

The tall dandelion chuckled softly and replied, ”Some are meant to be roses and some are not. They are expected to be perfect. They’re designed that way. They have to be cultivated and they don’t last long outside of the garden. As for us, we grow through concrete. We grow through landfills, we grow wherever we stand! AND we’re not expected to be anything which gives us the freedom to be everything.  No. I would not trade places even if I could.”  The little dandelion pondered this for a moment.

“But roses are universally loved for their beauty! They’re cherished! Given as tokens of affection! We’re considered a nuisance. An unsightly intrusion on a garden’s uniform appearance.  People just want us gone!”  the little dandelion lamented, its leaves wilting a little in sadness.

The tall dandelion shook her head. “A rose’s beauty often blinds others to its thorns. We are weeds, as you said. Bam! Our flaw is right there, out in the open.”  She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts to better get through to her friend.  ”There will always be fewer people who see beauty in us. We are wild, and not in anyone’s design. It is less obvious. Ah, but those who do will blow our seeds into the breeze and on them, we will carry their wishes and hopes into the wind. And we will thrive because of them.”

The little dandelion stood much taller after that.