By Gamuchirai Mugadzaweta
MANY a time after a patient has been discharged from hospital, instructions for home-based care are given to ensure full recovery.
Qualified personnel are required to monitor and take good care of the patient — this is where the assistance of a nurse aide is needed.
According to Allied Health Schools, ‘a nursing aide, sometimes called a nursing assistant, assists medical staff in providing care for residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, as well as for short-term hospital patients’.
Nurse aides provide, in most instances, home-based care to those suffering from various long-term illnesses in the comfort of their homes. They help patients with basic needs like bathing, dressing, feeding and keeping records of blood pressure and temperature that will be used by doctors to monitor progress.
Some of the patients may include stroke survivors, the elderly residents of nursing homes or individuals recovering from accident injuries or surgeries in hospitals.
The compassionate relationship that is created between the nurse aide and patient helps one to recover from illness with dignity.
Among other important duties, the nurse aide is involved with cleaning the room and washing bedding material of the patient.
Nurse aides also help the setting up of equipment used in different rooms and might help in certain areas like drawing blood samples from patients.
They make a significant difference to the quality of care patients receive during their time of need.
Acquainted with such skills, nurse aides are only a step away to becoming state registered nurses since they gain critical knowledge in assisting patients.
While the profession has been looked down upon in most African countries, it is a highly lucrative sector in Western nations.
This has seen most Africans going abroad to offer their services in the health sector where demand is high
However, with the change of lifestyle, Zimbabweans have not been spared from strokes, accidents and other lifestyle challenges which necessitate the need for nurse aides at home.
It is against this background that The Network and Support for Youth Empowerment and Skills Trust (NSYEST) has undertaken the task to train nurse aides.
Speaking at the inaugural graduation ceremony held in Harare recently, guest of honour Evans Mushawevato, a media practitioner, urged nurse aide graduates to think outside the box.
“You have to change your mindset and not lay blame on the Government for not giving you jobs,” said Mushawevato.
“You are of vital importance to the health sector because without you complementing the work of nurses, pharmacists and surgeons, their efforts would come to nothing.
“After a patient receives treatment, now you come in to make sure due care and attention is given to the patient.
“Do not look down upon yourselves but know that you are part of the system and without nurse aides it would be difficult for proper functioning of the health sector.
“As graduates, form groups that will be known for offering services, approach interested stakeholders who require what you have to offer; your services are needed.”
Best student, Martha Zenguwa, said her training had moulded her into a patient and professional nurse aide capable of rendering service to the needy.
“Some patients are harsh and short-tempered but you have to be calm and tolerant and now that we have been trained, we are raring to go,” said Zenguwa.
Another nurse aide, Vimbai Mapendere, called for recognition of players in the sector.
“Nurse aides are critical in the health delivery system,” she said.
“What is needed is that players in the sector organise themselves into a body that can lobby for their recognition.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Evangelista Mwale Kamtande, NSYEST director, said since the organisation’s formation last year, over 100 nurse aides had been trained.
“Our goal as an organisation is to groom nurse aides, among other empowerment programmes and ensure that members of the society, especially the youths, are not a burden to their families and the Government,” said Mwale-Kamtande.