Saturday, June 1, 2013

If I Ran the Nursing Home

I noticed today how angry I get when I walk in the front door of a certain SubAcute/Rehabilitation Care Facility.

I wonder why nursing homes are called nursing homes?
As far as I can tell there isn't a whole lot of nursing going on.
Got a call from Mary today, she was crying and said she needed me.
Guess you know I tore out of here like that tornado tore through Oklahoma.
I was pretty worked up by the time I got there.
But things didn't appear to be as bad as I expected.
Poor thing needed to vent. Can't say that I blame her.

I'm ready to start taking names. I start with Grace. To give her the benefit of the doubt, Grace and Mary had a run in the very first day. It took Mary a few days to a) settle in and b)manage her pain. She can be pretty crusty. Grace probably drew the short straw that day.  I don't know how they do it. I couldn't. Still, it doesn't give them the right to ignore, walk away from, be rude to.  Now since I didn't see any of Mary's grievances when they took place, I only have her side of the story. But here's what I do have.
When I got there, Mary's food tray was in front of her. It looked coldish, but edible. The potatoes was all she'd tasted.  She'd drunk 1/2 her glass of juice.  As we talked Grace came in and carted away the tray, juice and all. A few minutes later Mary wanted something to drink, she's had a sore throat for 3 days. So I go ask for some. There's Grace with the trays stacked in a cart. She says, "I thought she said she was finished." She opens up the cart, finds Mary's tray, takes the juice glass from it (I saw that she did check the room #) and hands it to me.  I said, "She can't have a fresh glass?"  That had not even occurred to her.

Wait a minute? Aren't there super bugs running rampant in places like this? There is a 12-step diagram how to wash your hands in the bathroom, but you can drink from a glass that's been piled in a cart with other trays?

As I listened to Mary, I couldn't help but wonder if she will ever get to go home.
Even if she's able, her old house would need a lot improvements to make it safe for her. I don't know about her son, but I'd worry about her being there alone. It's the being alone, that makes me think she won't go back.  I doubt she can afford sitters.
Isn't there such a thing as case manager, or patient advocate, or social worker that goes around and makes sure everyone is okay? Who explains what's happening? Who sets up plans? Who asks questions?

How are you doing today?
That sandwich looks a little dry? Would you like some FRESH juice?
Your teeth hurt? Well let's get you some orajel.
A wash cloth?
A milkshake? Your nails clipped? Your hair washed? Someone to hold your hand?
Soft music? Art work on the walls? Colorful afghans? Kitty cats? Hospital gowns that don't get all tangled up?
Seriously, is this too much to expect?

I know that some of the patients aren't in a position to communicate with a person like that. Well then, dammit, that makes it even more imperative that they have someone to speak for them.  I'm pretty sure the whole thing boils down to dollars and cents. You've got to have money to get into the better places. Good, caring staff takes money. It takes money to add Glade air fresheners to every hall and room. It takes money to add massage therapy, music therapy, art therapy, aroma therapy, pet therapy to a patient's overall rehabilitation program. And if we're going to add that to the patient's welfare, let's add make sure the staff gets the same kind of therapy.

Maybe what really has me upset is the fact that I can't do anything to fix the situation. Even if I won the lottery I could only make things better for a few people.  When do we (the big general WE) say enough is enough? I don't know diddly squat about Obamacare. Maybe it's good. Maybe it's just another finger in a dam that's about to break loose.  What does it say about our society when we stack our kids up in day care centers and our old people in nursing homes?

Thanks for listening.
Angry ME


AkasaWolfSong said...

This so reminds me of the time I had been in bed sick for nine days with bronchitis and unbeknownst to me, the flu with a cold on top of it...I ended up going to the emergency room. While there the initial nurse came in to get my story, and said she'd be sending in someone to take my vitals, person up is a CNA who is taking my temp and as she does so she is coughing and sneezing all over me without covering up her mouth. I had to ask her to leave my cubicle. I mean seriously! Here I was running a fever, coughing up blood from so much chest hacking and this woman is sneezing on me. Long story short the Hospital Administrator ended up calling me, and then calling this CNA on her actions. (or so the story goes Even the Doctor was rude.
I think our medical institutions all need a dose of overhauling. WE need to practice mindful medicine and living so it would cover massages, aromatherapy, and souls that can give hair-washings, nail clips, art, and whatever else brings healing to US. That's where women can step up to the plate and start making a difference...gather a group of women together and go to different nursing homes, etc. and just plain helping out. We can't wait on the governments on state or federal levels to change anything cuz that is likely never to happen, and Grandmothers and Mothers are really good at this kind of are Grandfathers and Fathers for that matter. WE need to change our mindsets, or belief systems and get on the ball. Of course this is just my two centavos worth...I think you are right Mary...someone has to advocate for Mary and a million, gazillion others like her! Bless You for all you do!
Much Love,

Anonymous said...

It says we need to communicate our values to those who ca make the difference..

jeanne hewell-chambers said...

First I'd just like to say a hearty Amen to what Akasa Wolf Song said.

We have to be patient advocates for those we love, for those who need it (even if we don't know or love them). We're talking about simple acts of consideration here. Nothing really monumental . . . it shouldn't be anyway.

Obviously I'm standing right beside you on the soapbox. Hear us roar . . .