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A nursing attendant — also called an orderly or nurse’s aide — assists nurses in the routine care of patients. Although they cannot handle medical duties, they perform many helpful tasks, including assisting patients with basic hygiene needs, feeding and transporting patients, and keeping patients’ rooms neat and clean. While some facilities will accept nursing attendants who are not certified, the majority of facilities now require their attendants to complete a training program and take a test for certification.
Assisting patients with their basic hygiene needs is one of the most important duties of a nursing attendant. Helping patients stay clean not only boosts their self-esteem and makes them more comfortable, it can also help ward off infection and skin conditions. While some patients only require minimal assistance, others may not be able to get out of bed or move at all and require a complete bed bath given by the attendant. A bed bath is a good opportunity for an attendant to get a closer look at the patient’s skin and look for signs of ulcers or other issues.
When a patient requires extra assistance eating, a nursing attendant typically handles the task of feeding the patient. The attendant may also be in charge of delivering food to patient’s rooms and collecting the trays for transport back to the cafeteria. It is extremely important that attendants pay close attention to the room number and name on the tray, as some patients are on strict diets and a mix up can be detrimental to their health.
Patients often need to be moved from one location to another for testing, surgery, and other procedures, and a nursing attendant may be responsible for transporting them. Attendants learn the proper methods of lifting and moving patients during their training. Following these methods helps ensure that the patients are moved safely as well as reduces the strain on the attendants. If patients will be walking during their transport, attendants must ensure that non-skid socks are worn. Patients should never be out of bed in bare feet.
A nursing attendant is typically in charge of ensuring that patient’s rooms are neat and clean. Bed sheets must be changed at least daily, and sometimes more often if patients soil the linen. The floors must be kept clear of debris or other objects, and the nightstands should be orderly so that patients can find what they need without straining. Before leaving the room, the nurse attendant should ensure that the patient’s call button is placed within easy reach.