Caring for Patients with Physical Impairments

Instructor: Sarah Bryant

Sarah has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and an active Registered Nurse license. She teaches in hospitals, clinics and the classroom.

When you're a health professional it is important to be in the know about clients with physical impairments, this lesson will explain that aspect of care. There are particular items that need to be addressed when speaking about physical impairments and the care of a person encumbered by that.

Breakdown of Patient Care: CNA Perspective

A physical impairment is defined as being any physiological disorder, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one of the body's main systems. An impairment affects a person's daily living and requires specific care. What does this mean for a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA?

A CNA will help in the following areas:

  • Assist in ADL's (activities of daily living)
  • Take vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, respirations, temperature)
  • Maintain a safe environment
  • Be knowledgeable about a patient's specific case
  • Assist in ROM (range of motion) exercises
  • Be knowledgeable in skills needed for extra machinery/devices (bed alarms, lifting equipment, shower equipment, adjustable beds/chairs)
  • Administer correct medications
  • Listen to the Registered Nurse who will delegate tasks for this patient

Providing Care

Caring for an individual with a physical impairment can be taxing, emotionally and physically. When you decide to take on the role of a CNA, you are taking a road that will inevitably give you rewards, but that will come with a high price. It takes a special person to take on responsibilities included with direct patient care. You will have to help them with tasks such as bathing, toileting, and eating, turning or adjusting their weight to avoid bedsores, which may be physically difficult for you and emotionally difficult for the patient. When caring for patients with physical impairments, it is important to remember that the patient might be embarrassed or not receptive to help at first. Having patience and empathy for your patient is a must.

A CNA is not only in charge of evaluating their patient's care, but also identifying potential danger in the form of safety hazards: Rugs that may slip, items on the floor that could cause someone to trip, chairs out of place, wires in a hospital room, or trays in the way.

Finally it is important for CNAs to care for themselves by getting enough sleep eating well and exercising. A CNA should not neglect their own health or wellbeing at the expense of providing patient care.

Physical Impairment

Transparency in Compassionate Care

When caring for someone, you should always be transparent, forthcoming and honest. Remember that a physical impairment may cause additional issues such as depression, anxiety, pain, discomfort, or anger. If your patient is suffering from one of these, try to be sympathetic without showing pity or without being too overbearing in your care.

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