My aide was in a very good mood the other morning and seemed much less stressed than usual. While she was getting me ready, she explained that there was plenty of help on hand. I wondered if a new aide would be orientating. But as I left for the dining room, I soon discovered it was clinical day for nurse aide students.
Five students were chatting with residents while they waited for the kitchen to serve breakfast. Trays were passed quickly and residents were quiet while eating or being fed. With the students assisting, residents could quickly get anything that was forgotten on their trays. Ironically, there were few tray errors.
One female student was asked to feed the male resident beside me. He has Alzheimer's and is a young-looking 65. The student knew her instructor was observing from behind, evidenced by her eyes darting nervously around the room. With some encouragement from veteran aides, she began to slowly feed the resident.
Meanwhile, a bright and talkative student fed me. I told her what I eat and how I prefer to eat it. During a pause I demonstrated to her and another student the faces some friends and family make when feeding me and they laughed, which relieved tension.
With the four regular floor aides also available, there was one aide or student for every four of us residents. Residents seemed to enjoy the new faces and appeared to be calmer.
Students did their resident assignments together or with instructors. It was interesting to watch the interaction between residents and students. Some students cared for residents who can be difficult, but few experienced any problems. They stayed around assisting residents until after lunch.
As a resident I have always enjoyed interacting with student aides. I also think the floor aides remember more of their training when students are around.
New aides have asked me why they are taught to do things at a slower pace in class than when actually working the floor. I said they are taught best practices that they need to refine and streamline to fit their schedules in a nursing home.