What are CNA Duties and Responsibilities?

On the job, the CNA’s duties are many and varied. Exact CNA duties and responsibilities (what the job entails) vary from state to state and from facility to facility – and within the facility, from department to department.

There are basic responsibilities which any CNA should know and be able and willing to perform. The CNA has the role of observer and of basic care provider.

CNA as an Observer

As observer, the CNA routinely monitors and records the patient’s activities and vitals according to schedule: vital signs, input and output, and activities of daily living (ADLs).

Vital signs: Taking and recording the patient’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respirations. One may also be required to measure and record the patient’s height and weight upon admission, and depending upon the department, measuring the patient’s weight may be required routinely.

Input and output: Measuring a patient’s input and output may be a critical part of their daily assessment and treatment. One may be required to observe and record how many ounces a patient has drunk and what percentage of their meals they ate. In addition, it may also be necessary to record output, from urine, to stools, to emesis, sputum, and/or blood. The most common outputs recorded are simply urine and stool.

ADLs: The CNA may be required to observe such things as ambulation (walking), or time spent out of bed or sitting in a chair, and of how much self-care the patient is capable.

As observer, keeping an eye out for things out of routine or out of the “norm” is also as important as things observed and recorded. Because the CNA sees the patient more often than the nurse does, it is important to always be aware of anything out of the ordinary such as a patient having difficulty swallowing, or dizziness when getting up, incontinence, irregular breathing, etc. Always report such incidents to the patient’s nurse.

CNA as Basic Care Provider

No matter what facility or department one works in, providing patients with certain basic care and comfort are always part of the routine.

Keeping the bed dry: The patient may be incontinent or sweating, and the bedding may get wet and need to be changed. CNA training teaches how to make hospital beds, even if the bed is occupied.

Keeping the patient hydrated: It is important, unless there are any restrictions on liquids, that the patient always has fresh water. If the CNA is in a department which keeps records of liquid input, it is important to develop a routine where one knows how much water has been given to the patient, and how much has been consumed. If the patient is not drinking, it is important to remind them to drink, or to offer them a drink when the CNA is at the bedside.

Assisting with ADLs: The CNA will be trained to assist patients in dressing, walking, toileting, eating, and drinking when necessary.

Range of Motion (ROM): The CNA will be trained and may be asked to assist the patient with ROM exercises if the patient’s mobility is an issue.

Transportation: The CNA may transport patients from the floor to other departments for testing, hospital appointments, etc. Depending on the patient, it may consist of assisting or accompanying them in walking, or moving them by wheelchair or litter. The CNA will be trained in transferring the patient from bed to chair.