Health Guide USA
America's Online Health Resource Guide

Nursing Aides | What Do They Do?

Nursing aides, sometimes called nursing attendants or nursing assistants, provide basic care and help with basic living activities. They typically do the following:

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patientsí health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patientsí vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

Some nursing aides and attendants may also dispense medication, depending on their training level and the state in which they work.




In nursing homes, aides and attendants are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years, aides and attendants may develop close, caring relationships with their patients.

Orderlies may do some of the same tasks as nursing aides and attendants, although they do not usually provide healthcare services. They typically do the following:

  • Transport patients, such as taking a hospital patient to an operating room
  • Clean equipment and facilities

Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants work as part of a healthcare team under the supervision of licensed practical or vocational nurses or registered nurses.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition


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