I have spent countless hours at mom’s nursing home in an attempt to get my head around the reason for the neglect and abuse that I’ve witnessed.
Everyday, I observe and document the type of care my mom and her friends receive. I became extremely pissed off; how dare these people hurt my mom and her friends?
Initially, I was apprehensive to complain. Dr. Zucker, mom’s Geriatrician, frequently reminded me to be good to the nurses; "they’re overworked," he sympathetically offers.
Because of Dr. Zucker, I made every effort to visit mom during meal times. I wanted to make a difference and let the staff know that I am there to help. It has been exhausting. I go every day with little time off. I gave my time away for free; it was unappreciated. I was not respected. I felt like an intruder; how dare I question the care mom was receiving?
The day I walked into the nursing home and saw my mom restrained against her will, shirt half off, too small compression socks which had rolled down to her mid-calf and cutting her circulation, causing a weird bulbous vein to form on her ankle; I took my gloves off like a hockey player pissed because he was hit illegally by the opponent.
Enough is enough!
Watching the staff, I became angry. I felt as though my good nature was being taken advantage of by the care givers. “Oh, Sue’s here, we can all go on break together.” WRONG! I was left with patients, lots of patients who require lots of care while paid employees cajouled with eachother in their native language. My confidence diminished. I began to wonder what goes on when I am not around. I spent more time at the facility. I became more stressed out and wondering how to get my mother out of the hell hole I had inadvertently placed her.
No longer was I going to wait for more abuse and neglect to transpire. I began my new career as a complainer; mom and her friends needed the power of my voice.
I have a voice and I am not afraid to use it.
Initially, I did put all the blame on the staff. It’s what all concerned family will do, after all these are the people who have our loved ones in their charge. However, through the magic of complaining, I discovered something; a fish rots from the head.
Management doesn’t do much to help solve the problems. Knee jerk reactions from managers are exasperating the situation. Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Barking orders is futile. It’s akin to a conversation between two people who don’t speak the same language. Talking slower or louder is not an effective method to communicate necessary change.
Nursing facilities need leaders who respect their subordinates. Mangers need to be willing to get input from everyone, especially the staff who are working in the trenches. Why not take advantage of the intelligence these folks have gathered and possess? It doesn't cost anything to listen. Listening, from my professional experience is a skill that leads to cost effective solutions to big problems. Why reinvent the wheel when your staff has lots of wheels to share with you?
Nursing home leaders need to adopt a team work culture; it’s the only way the abuse and neglect will stop. In my opinion, team work is a step toward stopping the complaints of concerned family and friends. It's not hard to build teams; people want to do a good job.
Employees need to feel empowered. It’s proven that an empowered worker, one who is recognized for their good work, is a better employee. It feels good to be noticed for a job well done. It doesn’t need to be in the form of money, although money is always a nice reward for a job well done.
Respect. Respect begets respect. When management respects their employees, employees will naturally begin to have respect for everyone, including themselves. The care that they provide will naturally improve because their attitudes will be better.
Nursing home care workers are important and need to be honored and valued for what they do every day. Families need to lighten up a little on the care workers and raise concerns with the Administrators of the home. There's always a root cause to every problem; from what I've observed, a troubled staff is a by-product of poor management and the desire for increased profits at all costs.
I have witnessed the negative affects of Corporate's desire to increase profits off the backs of frail residents. It is an autrocity. Cutting hours and hiring cheap help is demoralizing to the dedicated healthcare professionals who are employed in nursing homes everywhere.
Nursing home care needs to be consistent. Changing the Care Giver faces is confusing to the demented mind; familiarity eases the patients stress. Less stress leads to better management of patient care. It cuts down on employee burn out; burn out is a sure way to open the door for a potential lawsuit.
Today I wonder, how will I fight this battle alone? I need a posse. Will you join my cause? Will you stand up and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves any longer?