Caregivers at Heart, Nursing Assistants Bring Smiles to their Patients’ Homes

June 24, 2024

NORTH CONWAY, NH — National Nursing Assistants Week, June 13-19, is dedicated to recognizing the efforts of Nursing Assistants –  LNAs (Licensed Nursing Assistants) and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants). Visiting Nurse Home Care & Hospice (VNHCH) sees it as an opportunity to highlight these caregivers and how much they mean to the patients and families they support.

VNHCH Executive Director Sandy Ruka explained the role of the nursing assistant, a little understood but incredibly valuable part of her team. “Nursing Assistants may go by different names depending on where they work and in which state they are licensed. Sometimes you may hear about LNAs or CNAs, or nursing assistants. They may work in home care, hospitals, nursing homes or hospices. No matter where they work, they receive daily satisfaction from those they care for.”

Two VNHCH licensed nursing assistants recently shared their experiences working in this crucial role. 

LNA Belinda Pennett recounted her family’s influence on her career path. Belinda realized the importance of care in the home when ten years ago, her sister developed stage 4 lung cancer and was cared for by visiting nurses and LNAs. She stated, “ I saw what a difference it made for my family and my sister who was actively dying at the time. I saw the care that went into it.  The people who came to take care of her were selfless and amazing. I was working part-time as an LNA at that point. But after my sister passed, I got into it full time.”   

Belinda enjoys spending time with her patients and listening to their stories. “I like working with VNHCH because we help people stay in their homes. It’s key to their happiness.  It’s so important. I wish everyone could have that.” This last statement is particularly meaningful to Belinda as her older brother died of AIDS in a hospital setting, unable to be at home with his pets.

When asked about her training and certifications, she recalled training with a retired RN with clinical rotations at a long-term care facility.  “She taught us to be proud of what we were doing. Her whole philosophy was to give respect and dignity. She also taught us the importance of being an active listener.”

Belinda encourages high school students to consider a career as an LNA, at a time that fewer young people are joining the profession. “I think compassion and empathy is one of the most important things as a human being. You are working in a field where you get it back when you put it forward. That’s worth its weight in gold.  VNHCH’s motto is ‘A Passion for Compassion.’ I’m proud to say I work for them.  You can’t get better than that.”

She advised those considering becoming a nursing assistant, “You get to meet all kinds of people from all backgrounds. Every day is different. It opens up the possibilities to learn a lot more about ourselves.”

LNA Maureen Cahill has worked for VNHCH for 8 years, providing care to both hospice and long-term care patients. With home care, she enjoys spending an hour or two with each patient and their family.  Every patient is different, but a typical day finds her helping people with showering, wound care, or just sitting to chat or read a book or newspaper. She added, “You get to know them, their likes and dislikes. You find out things that you both like, such as gardening.  It helps visits go by peacefully.”

Maureen received her certification through a training program available on weekends. She went to classes for 8 weeks on Saturdays and Sundays. She noted that the training schedule allowed her to continue to work while studying for her new career.

VNHCH offers employees reimbursement for LNA certification. LNA classes can take place around an individual’s work schedule as classes are offered nights and weekends. This allows individuals to work during the day and still pursue LNA training after hours.

VNHCH is always looking for caring and compassionate individuals to join their team. Anyone interested in learning more about careers at VNHCH, please call 603-356-7006.