Position on Side CNA Skill

While working as a CNA you will encounter scenarios where you’ll need to assist a patient lying on their side. Positioning a patient is an often overlooked skill that nursing assistants provide. However, it is important enough that you may be tested on it as part of your CNA skills exam. 

A common reason for turning a patient is when a patient is paralyzed, or non-ambulatory. This is necessary to prevent the pooling of blood in parts of their body which can turn into painful, and dangerous, bed sores. The nursing staff on the healthcare team will provide guidance on when to position the patient, and following the steps below you can learn the appropriate technique for positioning the patient on their side, also known as the supine position. 

To learn all of the necessary steps for the CNA skill for placing a patient on their side, please watch this video demonstration. 

Supine Position CNA Skills Exam Steps

The process for positioning a patient on their side for the CNA skills exam is as follows:

  1. Perform the standard CNA beginning tasks. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and wash your hands.
  2. Make sure the head of the bed has been lowered so the bed is flat.
  3. If the bed has an unprotected side, set the bed to have a raised side rail on the unprotected side of bed.
  4. Position the resident on their side in the center of the bed in a side-lying position. 
  5. Place appropriate padding behind the patient’s back, under their head, between their legs, and supporting their dependent arm.
  6. Check the body alignment of the patient to ensure they are in a supported position.
  7. If side rails need to be raised, put them in place. 
  8. Perform your standard completion tasks – ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give the patient their call light, wash your hands, and document the results.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that these steps for CNAs to position a patient on their side are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.