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Coping With Death on the Job

Amanda has been a CNA at a long-term care facility for three months and has cared for many of the residents.  Although she learned in school about how to cope with the death of residents, she was not prepared for when one of the residents passed away last week.

 

One strategy Amanda learned for coping with death on the job is to talk with co-workers.  She turned to a co-worker named Beatriz for support, and Amanda told Beatriz how learning of the resident’s death after caring for him almost daily for three months was difficult for her.  This resident’s death was the first she had experienced at work, and she wasn’t sure how to cope with her emotions. Amanda said that the grief she felt surprised her. Beatriz reminded her that the grief was a result of the compassion Amanda feels for the residents.

Beatriz told Amanda that in the long-term care facility, many residents may be receiving palliative care for their illnesses and are not trying to be cured, meaning there may be residents who will die while they are receiving care. Beatriz mentioned some examples of how CNAs can provide comfort and compassion for palliative care residents. CNAs can give residents ice chips or small sips of water to stay hydrated.  CNAs might apply a lip treatment to help with chapped lips.  Turning residents often helps with soreness or pain.  Some residents may want to hear their favorite music or may ask to hear passages of their favorite books. Something as simple as holding a hand can give great comfort to residents.

Beatriz said that other co-workers might want to know about the death of the resident, and Amanda should ask the family if she may contact others to inform them. Some co-workers might even like to attend the funeral or contact the resident’s family to express sympathy. Sharing their grief with the family and telling them how sorry they are can help ease their own sadness.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners