CNA Christina helps John shave.
It’s 6 a.m., and Christina Zajicek checks her email to see which of Agrace’s hospice patients she will visit today. By 7:15 a.m., she’s at a retirement community, helping Joe* get out of bed. Over the next hour, she helps him shower and shave, and applies lotion to his fragile skin.
Like most of us, Joe likes to clean up before he gets dressed for the day, explains Christina, his Agrace certified nursing assistant (CNA). “He just turned 100 and tells the most interesting stories of his experience in World War II,” she says. After the visit, she updates Joe’s nurse and orders the supplies he needs.
Like all Agrace CNAs, Christina helps patients stay comfortable, most often through bathing, dressing, repositioning, and mouth and skin care. Some visits include light housework and plenty of TLC: “I paint a lot of nails and rub a lot of feet, too!” she smiles.
The Eyes and Ears of the Hospice Team
The personal nature of their work lets CNAs pick up on patients’ physical and emotional changes. As the “eyes and ears” of the hospice care team, CNAs record details that allow the others—including the nurse, social worker, spiritual & grief counselor—to follow up with specialized care and support.
At 11:15 a.m., Christina is across town in Michael’s small, upstairs bedroom. She helps him wash and dress in his bed before popping in his favorite Civil War movie. His wife says the visit gives her a break and gives Michael an opportunity to talk with another person, which cheers him up. Michael says, “Having Christina here makes me feel better, feel good. She makes me want to continue to live.”
Later, at a retirement community, Christina and Mary, a staff CNA, use a mechanical lift to transfer Anne* from a wheel chair to her bed. With warm water and washcloths, Christina gently washes Anne’s hair and gives her a bed bath. She describes each step in advance. Anne, who speaks very little, rewards her with a smile and a little laugh. While helping Anne into a cotton knit dress, Christina checks her delicate skin for any new problems Anne’s Agrace nurse would need to know about.
John and Christina
The last visit of Christina’s day is to John, an energetic, charming WWII veteran. She weighs him, then helps him shave, shower and dress in fresh jeans and a plaid shirt. Throughout the visit, he’s lighthearted and joking as Christina works to keep him comfortable.
As she charts John’s care, Christina sums up her passion for her role: “I come to work early, I go home and I’m tired—but I never tire of what I’m doing. It’s rewarding to help families care for their loved ones. I feel fulfilled every day.”
*Name changed for privacy.