Caregivers and CNAs are the everyday heroes of senior care and this is their time in the spotlight. It’s “National Nursing Assistant Week” and June 14 is “National Career Nursing Assistants’ Day,” designated by the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants.
It’s the perfect moment to thank the CNAs who care for your loved ones, so we’ve put together a list of gift ideas that your parents’ nursing assistants will appreciate.
CNA stands for Career Nursing Assistant or Certified Nursing Assistant. You may also see CNAs referred to as nurse’s aides or patient care assistants. These caregivers work under the supervision of nurses to help patients with activities of daily living (like bathing, grooming, and toileting). They also handle some health-related tasks like checking vital signs and turning bedfast patients to prevent pressure sores.
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Most CNAs work in long-term care communities like assisted living, memory care and nursing homes, and most of their time is spent providing hands-on care and a listening ear. The job calls for attention to detail, empathy, patience and some physical strength.
As our population grows older, demand for CNAs is rising fast. But pay remains low for these hardworking caregivers – the median yearly wage for CNAs in the U.S. is $27,520. Alaskan CNAs earn more than nurse’s aides in other states, with an average yearly wage of $37,950.
Show your parent’s caregivers how much you appreciate what they do with a practical gift this week.
What’s practical for a CNA? When I asked my friend Heather Gattuccio, a nurse who completed CNA training in Washington State, she immediately suggested three perennial favorites that CNAs can use every workday: cool ID badge holders, Starbucks gift cards and tote bags.
Read on for more ways to show caregivers you care:
A gift card to Starbucks is extremely practical for last-minute giving. Don’t have time to swing by a store to pick up and a card? Send your parents’ CNAs a gift card by email.
CNAs and other healthcare workers have to display their badges on the job and they can display their sense of style at the same time. Search Etsy for ID badge reels (the part of the badge holder that clips onto clothing) and you’ll find thousands of designs and even personalized options. Pair a cool badge reel with a pack of inexpensive but very practical waterproof badge covers to keep their ID in top shape.
You can splurge on a monogrammed, structured canvas tote from L.L. Bean or Lands’ End that will hold up for years hauling lunches, gym clothes and supplies. Or you can find a simpler canvas tote with a CNA-themed design like this one on CafePress.
Badge holders, bags and coffee cards are just a start. There are other practical ways to make a CNA’s day.
Cleaning, lifting and walking all day mean CNAs need a sturdy reusable water bottle that won’t get mixed up with everyone else’s in the break room. Simple Modern’s bottles work with cold or hot liquids, don’t develop condensation on the outside, and come in a rainbow of colors and prints.
CNAs’ hands do a lot of work during a typical day, which is why Scrubs nursing magazine suggests a hand massage or manicure gift certificate as a CNA thank-you gift.
Why not splurge on a 30-60 minute gift certificate for your parents’ primary caregiver so they can unwind those tired muscles?
There’s one other gift you can give that costs you nothing and has a long-lasting impact.
You can write an online review of your parent’s senior community that mentions their favorite CNA by name and gives examples of why they’re outstanding. You can also write an email or an old-fashioned paper letter to their boss explaining how much their work means to your family — be sure to copy the CNA. Positive feedback not only gives every CNA a morale boost but having it in writing and shared with supervisors gives them extra positive points at their next annual review. That’s a gift that can keep giving for a long time.
What other gifts can you give to CNAs to show caregivers you care during National Nursing Assistant Week? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.