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Defining the Role of a Certified Nursing Assistant in Home Care: Duties, Responsibilities, and How to Hire

4 minute readLast updated April 17, 2023
Written by Leah Hallstrom
Medically reviewed by Amanda Lundberg, RN, family medicine expertAmanda Lundberg is a registered nurse with over 10 years of experience in clinical settings, working extensively with seniors and focusing on wellness and preventative care.
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Having a trusted home care team can help your loved one with every area of life — from support with household chores to essential medical assistance. As part of your parent’s home health care plan, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) can help them with mobility, general health monitoring, and activities of daily living. Understand the job duties of a CNA, qualities to look for when hiring a CNA, and how A Place for Mom can help.

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What are the duties of a CNA?

CNAs are health care professionals that work directly with patients to help meet their daily needs. They can provide basic medical support, offer compassion to their senior patients, and help maintain a healthy and safe home environment. CNAs are often part of a larger home care team, including health care aides, homemakers, or other medical and nonmedical caregivers.

Some examples of CNA duties in home care include the following:

  • Monitoring vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate
  • Assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs) including bathing, eating, and grooming
  • Helping patients with transferring activities like moving from a bed or wheelchair
  • Transporting seniors to appointments
  • Updating patient records

CNAs are supervised by a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN or LVN). Because CNAs can work in hospitals, nursing homes, and residential homes, they often have unique skills or duties, and every state or individual employer may have different requirements for the CNAs they hire. To become a licensed certified nursing assistant, one must complete a weeks-long training program and pass a certified nursing exam.

In addition to medical training and experience, CNA home care jobs require certain character and personality traits. Some qualities to look for when hiring a CNA include the following:

  • Kindness and compassion for patients
  • Good communication and listening skills
  • Strong attention to detail

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Who would benefit from the services of a home care CNA?

For a senior who wishes to age in place in the comfort of home but who needs daily support, temporary medical attention, or dedicated care for a long-term illness, a CNA is a great addition to their home care team. CNAs may have taken special courses or completed trainings that enable them to work with patients with serious conditions.

Home care CNAs can help seniors who fit the following categories:

  • Need help recovering after a recent illness or injury
  • Live with a chronic condition like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease
  • Have trouble leaving the house to receive medical support

Because CNAs work closely with a registered nurse or another qualified supervisor, they can bring in expert care in situations they can’t manage alone. And, since they spend so much hands-on time with patients, they can more easily identify changes in your loved one’s mental and physical state.

While most duties of a CNA will be related to medical needs, they might also offer personal support like light housekeeping. If you’re interested in dedicated companionship care, home care may be a better alternative than home health care through a CNA.

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How can seniors pay for home health care services?

Seniors and their families can pay for home health care services like CNAs through a variety of resources. Explore the following payment options for in-home care:

  • Medicare. If your parent is enrolled in Medicare (Part A or Part B), skilled nursing care will be covered as long as they meet certain criteria. Eligible seniors must be considered homebound, meaning they have difficulty leaving the house, and their doctor must have prescribed intermittent nursing care.
  • Private or long-term care insurance. If your loved one has a traditional health insurance plan, contact the insurance company directly to learn about potential payment options. In-home nursing care is not likely to be covered in full, but a health care representative should be able to explain their coverage and provide a better understanding of what your out-of-pocket costs will be.
  • VA health benefits. Veterans benefits are likely to cover the majority of home health care services, including an in-home CNA, as long as seniors meet the eligibility criteria.

Are you ready to hire in-home care?

If you’re ready to bring in the home care assistance of a CNA, you can do so in a variety of ways. Some families prefer to hire independently, while others opt to hire through a home care company.

A Place for Mom’s trusted Senior Living Advisors can work to understand your parent’s situation and care needs to match you with expert home caregivers. With a network of more than 2,000 home care providers, we can connect you with a variety of personalized care options for you to choose from.

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Meet the Author
Leah Hallstrom

Leah Hallstrom is a former copywriter and editor at A Place for Mom, where she crafted articles on senior living topics like home health, memory care, and hospice services. Previously, she worked as a communications professional in academia. Leah holds bachelor’s degrees in communication studies and psychology from the University of Kansas.

Edited by

Danny Szlauderbach

Reviewed by

Amanda Lundberg, RN, family medicine expert

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

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