Showing employees just how much their hard work is appreciated is more important than ever before. And, according to what I’ve seen and heard – you all did exactly that (and more!) during the 43rd annual National Nursing Assistants Week. Often referred to as CNA week, this observance is intended to showcase and celebrate all of the wonderful things happening in long-term care communities thanks to the dedication of nursing assistants.
According to CNA Network, the week is also an opportunity to “seek out and involve our role models, peers, supervisors, clients, families, community, legislators, public policy officials, media and others.”
I wanted to share a few of the thoughtful ways that communities around the country thanked their nursing assistants throughout the week. Please note that activities planned and orchestrated varied from community to community based on their COVID-19 status and took into account social distancing and other measures recommended by the government.
- Food & Sweet Treats
You can’t go wrong by bringing in a free meal for your CNAs, and doing so goes an especially long way for those working longer hours, who might not have the time or energy to prepare food after their shift – or even worse, could have been affected financially by the pandemic. Many communities took advantage of the summer weather with cookouts. Some brought in food trucks, and others skipped straight to dessert with personal Bundt cakes, ice cream trucks, donuts and even a make-your-own sundae bar. One community even organized a mobile “lemon-AID” stand.
- Fun & Games
Activities are a great way to relieve stress and build stronger relationships among teams. From photo booths, to relay races (many that got residents involved as well), to live music and puppy visits, providers got more creative than ever. I even saw that one community brought in an inflatable cash grab machine for CNAs to try their luck on.
- Company Swag Giveaways
Many communities gave out water bottles, pens, t-shirts and other branded items. Much of the messaging on these items nodded to the incredible work nursing assistants have been doing, incorporating sayings like “healthcare hero” and “[insert community name] strong.”
- Survival Kits
Kits promoting self-care during these stressful times were a hit during CNA week. Items ranged from coffee and tea, face masks, candles and small snacks for a little extra energy. A community in Indiana got really creative and gave each employee a survival kit with items like a paper clip “to hold it all together,” a life saver “to remind you of how many times you have been one” and matches “to light your fire when you are feeling burnt out.” Even though these items were not costly in a monetary sense, I’m sure employees really appreciated the thought that went into them and were reminded of just how important and valued they are.
- Connecting Caregivers, Residents & Families
These national weeks provide an excellent opportunity to connect caregivers and the residents they serve. Many providers asked residents to write notes of appreciation to their CNAs. Others even asked family members to join in and recognize those that care for their loved ones. A gift for caregivers doubled as an activity for residents at one community, where residents made special necklaces for their aides. Other communities sent notes of praise to caregivers’ families, letting them know what an incredible job their mom/dad/spouse is doing and thanking them for being so understanding of their increased workload or shifted schedule during this time.
- Highlighting Heroes
I saw a lot of communities spotlighting nursing assistants on their websites and across social media. Some quoted them talking about what they love about their job and others even displayed messages of gratitude from one CNA to another. A community in Ohio wanted to get to know their staff better and created these profiles to share fun facts like hobbies, why they became a nursing assistant and what they love about their job.
- Thank-You Messages From Management/Corporate Leadership
A simple yet meaningful gesture, some communities had corporate team members and managers write personalized thank-you notes to each nursing assistant. Recognizing each individual’s contributions and expressing gratitude for those contributions goes a long way in boosting staff satisfaction and engagement.
It’s not an easy time to organize these activities when things are so hectic and strict safety protocols must be met. But, as you can see, that did not stop senior care communities from going above and beyond what’s been done in recent years. You should all be very proud of yourselves. From the social posts and stories I came across, staff really enjoyed the week and appreciated their employers’ going above and beyond to make the most of it in light of the current situation. Plus, many seemed so proud to be in this line of work – which is always a great thing see.