Purpose-Driven Work as a CNA

By: Penny Allen, KCH Certified Nursing Assistant
Published: June 20, 2023

When I became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) thirty-five years ago, I had no idea what I was in store for, the people’s lives I would touch and the patients I would care for throughout the years. 

Penny Allen, KCH Certified Nursing Assistant

When I came to work for Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (KCH) it forever changed my life. There is a lot about hospice care that people don’t realize. The comfort and support we give to the patients and their family takes an entire team. The moment I walk through the door, I enter into their lives. I love meeting new people and listening to their stories, and as you can imagine, I have heard so many stories through the years! 

For instance, I had to assist a patient with a bath during their first visit. Both of us not knowing what to expect, I talked to the wife and her husband (the patient) about what their needs were. The wife agreed her husband did need a bath, but my patient just wanted to sleep and needed repositioning. He finally agreed to a bath. During the bath the chaplain came; the wife went outside the room to visit with him. Finishing up the bed bath, the hospice nurse arrived and helped me finish. The patient’s breathing started to change and we had his wife come to see her husband before dying. A few weeks later, this is what the wife said when she called our office, “It was a relief to have hospice there with us during passing. After the bath my husband was comfortable then passed, he was so peaceful. It was a God thing!” She went on to say, “Penny was so caring with respect and paid attention to details, dignity and honor.” Having hospice services made an impression of loving care the wife will forever remember as a moment that was so special to her. 

Asking every patient how they’d like things done makes them feel comfortable with me coming to help them. It’s important to them to have input on their care. I had a patient’s wife who just loved the care I gave her husband and she told me, “I won’t be here when you’re old and need help, but I will send someone great to take care of you as you took care of my husband.” I do realize that one day I’ll need help, so I make every effort to take care of people the way I would like to be taken care of myself. 

Still Learning
Even after all these years of being a CNA, I’m still learning new things during my time with Kansas City Hospice, due to the education provided for us. For instance, I was seeing a home patient for a bath. Her two daughters were taking care of their mother at her home. There were a lot of things they didn’t know; they were very thankful I showed them techniques they could use to care for their mother and keep her in her home until she passed. Those were techniques I recently learned in my role as a KC Hospice CNA.

Penny Allen (middle) was presented the Muehlebach Hospice Caregiver award in February 2020. Penny was also a 2014 winner of the Heart Of Hospice award from the Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care Association.

Being a CNA has given me a purpose for my life. It takes strength and courage to walk through that door of a dying patient, to not only face the family but also give them comfort. 

I could go on and on about the things that I’ve witnessed as a CNA, but I will leave you with this: I went to see one patient for her usual bed bath. When I walked in her room she had the biggest smile on her face and said, “He is so beautiful!” I asked her who she was talking about and she said, “Jesus, he was over there in the corner, but he is gone now.” We talked more about this during her bath. Later that evening she passed with her husband by her side telling her good-bye. 


  1. Leah Cocayne on August 13, 2023 at 11:16 pm

    I wanted to ask if there was any CNA job openings?

    • Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care on August 14, 2023 at 9:37 am

      Hi Leah, thanks for reaching out about your interest in CNA jobs with us! You can view current job openings and apply at http://www.KCHospice.org/careers/

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