Empathy at the Heart of Caregiving

As the Friendly Home’s Staff Education Supervisor, my responsibilities include interviewing potential Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). and helping CNAs develop into successful skilled care providers who advocate for our Members and families. 

From my perspective, the most important characteristic for a CNA to have is empathy, followed by a strong work ethic and well-developed communication and interpersonal skills.   

Empathy is a quality that cannot be taught, so I look for evidence of it during the interview process, and when presenting education programs which are based upon the Friendly Home values of friendship, compassion, customer focus, teamwork, integrity and excellence.  Skills acquisition, time management, and utilizing flexible priorities come with time and experience, but if the CNA lacks empathy, they will be perceived as not fully invested in caring for the Members. 

Empathy is essential when developing caring, trusting, genuine, patient, and friendly professional relationships with Members, families and co-workers.  Empathetic CNAs are sensitive and caring towards Members who are transitioning from living in their own home to our setting where they must adjust to a new reality.  Excellent CNAs actively listen and gather much information about the individual’s life story, likes and dislikes, and personal preferences, which are then shared with other members of the care planning team so that a person-centered care plan can be developed. Empathetic CNAs will go “above and beyond” and pay special attention to the little things that are meaningful to the Member and family.

Successful CNAs also possess keen observation skills, a strong work ethic, and well developed communication and interpersonal skills. They are able to manage multiple concurrent demands, can adapt to rapidly changing care scenarios, and will take the initiative to help other members of the team if needed. They take seriously the responsibility to communicate Member observations in a timely manner so that additional assessment and care planning are completed to ensure the best outcome for the Member. 

Patience and a sense of humor combined with an empathetic spirit help support not only Members and families but peers as well during challenging situations. Empathy is what keeps excellent CNAs energized. Knowing that they have made a difference in someone’s life is very rewarding.

I am proud to applaud our excellent Friendly Home CNAs on a job well done!

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