Certified nursing aides (CNAs) are front-line caregivers for seniors living at home. They’re certified to administer skilled home healthcare, whereas in-home caregivers can only provide nonmedical care. Certified nursing aides are part of an agency care team monitored by a physician and registered nurse.

Home healthcare agencies provide varied services to assist homebound patients with activities of daily living, medical care and recovery from falls, injuries and surgery. For seniors at home, a certified nursing aide can significantly improve their recovery and well-being. Often, CNAs communicate with caregivers and families to provide basic instructions on caring for their loved ones when CNAs aren’t present. 

What Training Is Required for CNA Certification?

Certified nursing aides must undergo training, and the requirements are different for each state. Certification programs are offered at high schools, local community colleges, hospitals and vocational schools. The American Red Cross also provides CNA training in locations around the country. Classes last for four to eight weeks, depending on the class size and the agency’s schedule. 

Some of the most beneficial contributions certified nursing aides provide include companionship for seniors at home and much-needed time away for overworked family caregivers. The elderly who live at home often contend with loneliness and depression. Visits from CNAs allow these seniors to participate in conversation, share stories and wisdom and validate their life experiences. 

What Are the Duties of a Certified Nursing Aide?

When a senior living at home requires home healthcare, CNAs are dispatched to perform the duties of a home health aide. These duties include responsibilities such as bathing, toileting, drying and combing hair, dressing, trimming nails, brushing teeth and caring for dentures. CNAs also help with light chores, organizing, cooking and ensuring the patient is eating properly.

Medical tasks may include vitals such as taking and recording blood pressure and temperature, recording height and weight and setting up or adjusting medical equipment. Certified nursing aides also administer prescribed medications that are part of a physician’s plan and can change wound dressings.

The at-home medical care administered by a certified nursing aide also provides a trained observer who may recognize the signs of increasing health struggles or new medical conditions. These changes are relayed to the registered nurse or physician at the agency for evaluation.

How Many Hours Do Certified Nursing Aides Spend in a Senior’s Home?

The time a CNA spends with a homebound patient depends mainly on the prescribing doctor’s orders, care plan and the patient’s health needs. Home health agencies work with families, caregivers and healthcare workers to perform a needs assessment for the senior. After evaluating the situation, CNAs may be scheduled to visit the senior seven days a week, all day or only several days a week for a few hours. CNAs are also available for overnight care or as live-in nursing aides when round-the-clock assistance is needed.