My thoughts on nursing homes.
|And my mind rambles on. On to where? It cannot stop dwelling on the anguish, suffering, discontent, abandonment of those confined within the walls of nursing homes across the nation.
Indeed, they are a necessary evil many times. That being said, they are also a blessing from God at times too. A family member is unable to care for themselves physically or mentally. Family members attempt to care for their loved one until it just isn't possible any longer. Perhaps, they cannot physically lift and maneuver the patient any longer. Perhaps, their loved one no longer recognizes them and becomes violent to the extreme. Perhaps, medications to sustain life can no longer be administered at home. Perhaps, financially they have to return to work and cannot afford twenty-four hour nursing care at home for their loved one. There are so many reasons why a loved one would have to be admitted to a nursing home for round- the-clock care.
So what happens now? That often times rests on the individual who is still capable of being outside the home, still able to maintain their lives as usual. In other words, the result rests in large part on how often the loved ones of the person admitted to the home react now. Do they visit the nursing home often? Do they go the same day, the same time or do they go at an untraceable pattern?
Why would that matter you ask. It matters because often better, more compassionate, more thorough care is given to a patient when staff has no idea when a family member or friend will appear. Is this always the case. Of course not. There are always exceptions to every rule. However, it is true in a majority of cases.
One example of this would be a conversation I overheard between two nurses where my father was hospitalized as a long-term patient needing extended care. Only patients who would be back and forth from either a hospital or home to the facility due to extensive therapy or medical care being needed. Patients waiting for a nursing home bed to become available were also here.
In a harsh tone one of the nurses commented to the other. "I fixed that old man. I tied him to the bed and put the nurse button where he couldn't reach it. Bet that alarm(many patients capable of falling have special pads attached to their beds that alarm if the patient attempts to get out of bed) won't go off no more." She and the other nurse laughed. "We moved him yesterday and I left all his clothes and stuff in the old room and locked it up. Pay back for keeping us busy is a bitch."
"I had to do the same thing to that old bitch at the end of the hall. She just always wanting something. They'll learn. It won't take long," the other nurse added to the conversation.
Little did they know I was standing around the corner from the nurses station and my father was one of the old folks she was referring to. Daddy had Mystenia Gravis, Parkinson's Disease and the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. At times, daddy could be difficult, but he had no control over his responses. At times, he was violent and had to be restrained. All of this is true. But, reasonably so, not because someone just didn't want to bother with him.
As the nurses were having their discussion the one talking about the "old man" nodded toward room 120. That was the room my father had been moved to. When I entered the door and realized he was the "old man" she had been referring to my temper boiled over.
I found daddy bound so tightly to the bed the circulation was cut off in one hand. He was lying in a bed filled with his own excrement. He could not get to a bathroom and could not call a nurse to help him. He was fighting mad and in tears at the same time.
Always being an independent person, he was humiliated beyond words. He was having a hard enough time accepting his declining health as it was without such harsh treatment.
I immediately called for the director of nurses, the director of the hospital and dad's doctor to be summoned. I wanted to talk to all of them. It was after hours and the only one who responded was the head of nurses on that shift. I insisted she call the doctor and I relayed the conditions I had found concerning my father. I told him I was taking my father home and I needed his prescriptions before leaving the extended care unit.
I had to check him out against medical advise, but felt his care at home until other arrangements could be made would be much better than what he was receiving now. My sisters agreed with me when I telephoned them to update them on daddy's status.
I had to wait hours until someone could finally get a key to the room my father had been in to even get his clothes, toiletries, magazines, etcetera. This proved another sad point. He could not possibly have had a bath within the past 24 hours since he had not had soap nor any other clothes to put on. He was not able to wash himself and obviously no nurse had assisted him with this.
Did the nurses lose their jobs?
No. My sisters and I filed a formal complaint, yet only a letter of discipline was placed in their files. They never missed a day of work and were not moved to a different floor with a different level of care needed.
With an overwhelming sadness in my heart, I feel there are still patients being treated in such a manner not only in that facility, but many others across our nation.
We had some really outstanding nurses and assistants in the two following nursing homes dad was in until his death, some not so good, but the knowledge that these incidents happen every day still haunt me.
The directors of the nursing homes related to my sisters and myself it does make a difference in the care of a person when family and friends visit often and in no certain pattern. It keeps everyone mindful that someone will be monitoring the patient often besides themselves. It holds them to a higher standard. It keeps them ever mindful some loved one could step through the doors to that wing at any moment of the day or night. Even the security guards knew us by name because you just never knew when we'd show up.
Did it make a difference? I believe with all my heart it did. The staff became family to us too. Guess what? You will give family better care than just a stranger most any day when you are talking of extended time care.
I know that daddy's roommate tells us he receives better care since we visit often. He has a son who lives nearby but never visits. I cannot understand how a child can do that? I know how hard it is to see a loved one dwindle away, but as long as they have breath it matters to them to have someone there.
We all still visit dad's roommate even though daddy died six months ago. Not only does this ensure he still gets good care it allows that overworked nurse a chance to see to other patients at the facility.
Should it be that way? No, but sadly it is. As I stated earlier, there are exceptions to every rule. Sad as it is, in the care of our disabled, our mentally incapable, our elder citizens it is most often the rule not the exception that takes place in their care.
There are good, conscientious nurses filled with compassion. There are are many concerned family members and friends of residents of nursing homes. There are patients who have no one or family that live many, many miles away. There are as many situations as there are people. There are just as many if not more on the other side of the coin-medical care providers lacking the compassion and patience needed, family members who could but don't visit that loved one, friends who forget until the obituary comes out...
My heart is still haunted daily by the wails, the tears, the fears, the abandonment, the anguish experienced by so many who cannot help themselves.