Hope Acreman , CNA
Being a CNA Is So Rewarding
Hope Acreman is proud to be a nursing assistant in Owens Cross Roads, a small town in Alabama. Here's what she told us about her history as a CNA:
What drew you to working with the elderly?
"As a child, I was always working for the elderly around my neighborhood, watering flowers, sweeping sidewalks, cleaning bathrooms, etc. Even then, I had this special feeling in my heart just knowing I had helped an ‘old person’ (as I called them when I was little)."
When did you become a certified nursing assistant?
"I first became a CNA when I was 16. I worked in a nursing home. Then, when I was 22 and pregnant with my last child, I found out I had cervical cancer cells and underwent a lot of testing. When my baby was just six weeks old, I had surgery to remove my uterus. As a result, I got away from caring for nursing home residents for almost nine years."
What did you do instead?
"I worked as a home health aide and did a lot of private duty work. I even worked as a laundry and kitchen worker in nursing homes just to be close to the people who brought so much happiness to my daily life. While working in the laundry of one nursing home, I met the Director of Nursing. One day, we had a conversation and I told her I hoped to go back through CNA classes and get recertified."
"Not right away. I took a job at Wal-Mart as a Customer Service Manager and was there for more than a year. One day, this man asked me if I could help his elderly mother pick out some clothes. I knew then that being in retail management was not for me. I had to get back to working with the elderly. So, I took a pay cut and went to work at an assisted living facility."
Did you enjoy that?
"Yes, I enjoyed being around the elderly again. However, it was not the same as working in a nursing home. Finally, I took the CNA classes and I called that Director of Nursing at the nursing home. I said, ‘Hey, do you remember what I promised I was going to do?’ She said yes. I told her that I had gotten recertified and asked if she had a job opening. And, she did! So, finally, I am working again in a nursing home as a CNA."
Why was it so important for you to get back to the nursing home?
"It was just something I needed to do! I treat every resident I come in contact with as if they were my grandmother or grandfather. It is my mission to know their every need so I can help them. And, if I have a resident who is not expected to live long, I try to go out of my way to make sure the family has what they need as they sit with their loved one--because if it was me, I would want someone to care enough to share a smile, a tear and a hug. You never know how someone is feeling when they are losing someone who means so much to them. For me, being a CNA does not stop when I take my eyes off of that resident."
Sometimes, nursing home residents can be difficult. How do you deal with that?
"Even if I have a combative or hostile resident, I still try to comfort them. For example, if I know ice cream is something the resident loves and it is two am, I will get them some ice cream even if I have to leave on my meal break to do it!"
What would you say to people who are thinking of becoming a nursing assistant?
"To be a good caring CNA, first you have to have respect for the people under your care. Then you must find love in your heart for each person—and not just think of them as the illness they have. You must realize that with this job you have to keep a positive attitude on an hourly basis because each person is different. Most of all, remember that residents are still people with feelings and even if they cannot talk, they can hear what you say!"