The night shift can be a challenging job for CNAs but also comes with a unique set of advantages. Working the night shift allows for greater scheduling flexibility for employees with other important considerations in their life. The shift usually starts at 11 PM and continues through the night until 7 AM. This allows employees to maintain another job or spend time with their families during important daytime activities. Even though there are fewer demands from residents during the night shift, it can be challenging to remain awake through the late hours and most CNAs do not prefer the night shift for this reason.
Because residents are already asleep by the time the night shift begins, there are a different set of job responsibilities for the nighttime nursing assistants. The primary task of the night shift is to monitor the sleeping residents. The night CNAs must check residents frequently for incontinence, physical discomfort, or any medical complications that arise during sleep. This is essential to the wellbeing of the residents, as they will not be able to rest and recover their energy without the help of the nurse aides at night. It is the work of the night shift that prevents bed sores and other skin disorders that are caused by remaining in one position too long. It is also a confusing time of night for residents, so the nursing staff must work extra carefully to maintain a positive and gentle relationship with the sometimes disoriented residents.
Many medications are required before bed and very early in the morning. Because the night shift is there after evening medication passes, there is usually no medication to be given at the start of the shift. But by the end of the night shift around 6 AM, there will be a few types of medication that must be delivered in the early hours of the morning. Night shift nursing assistants must assist the nurses to make sure that all resident scheduled to take their early morning medication do so.
Many long-term care centers require the night shift to handle some additional tasks to balance their work load with that of the earlier shifts. The nursing staff may be required to complete some accounting tasks such as organizing patient charts, taking stock of medical supplies and medication, and cleaning or organizing parts of shared resident areas. It is important that the night shift complete these tasks in order to help out the day shift. Otherwise, the day shift can experience setbacks to their daily routines.