Doing “Time” in a Long-Term Care Facility

I read this as a Facebook post this morning, not sure who to give credit for it, but personally I think it is brilliant and very sad at the same time take a read…..

Here is some food for thought...We should place the elderly in prisons.  They will get a shower a day, video surveillance in case of problems, three meals a day, access to library, computer, TV, gym, doctors on-site, free medication if needed.Put criminals in nursing homes……… I really, really admire Nurses who work in long term care.  They must have a sincere desire to help their residences because why else would they work at such a physically and emotionally demanding job.  I cannot imagine how it feels to work at 110% for your shift knowing that you can not physically not meet all the needs of the residents in your care.  This has to take a toll on our healthcare workers.  Add in….. as stated above….. the residents and their families are paying “big bucks” to live in a long term care facility…. making the demands even higher.  If people are paying for quality care then they want a bang for their buck.

My Dad was a resident in a lock down Alzheimer’s unit in Sherwood Park.  First let me say I think the staff were amazing and that my Dad received excellent care. Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s can be a 24 hour job.  I was very thankful for this facility to keep my Dad safe.  It also allowed “us” to be his family and not his care givers……a sentence, I am sure…. people reading would have mixed emotions about???…. especially…. coming from a Nurse.  I would of too….prior to living it……..

So what did I observe?……. I was shocked to find out that in addition to meeting my Dad’s personal, and medical needs. The staff also cleaned his room, did his laundry, set up the dining room, cleaned the dining room, baked for coffee time, arranged for appointments, and participated in activities to keep the residents engaged.  I am fortunate to come from a large family so my Dad had lots of visitors.  To some residents the staff are their “everything!”.  Working in a Chronic care area allows the staff to develop relationships with both the residents, and their family members…..a mixed blessing…..they become part of a family in the residence and then when you lose them…. it is like losing a family member.

What needs to change? As the quote says…..the standards for the elderly…. as least as high as they are for prisoners. Facilities properly staffed with Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Nursing Attendants doing the jobs they are educated to do.  The support of a physician dedicated to the residents.  Advanced education for staff wanting to work in this area of nursing, a speciality that is over looked and underfunded.

You never know when you or your family may be needing a spot in one of these care facilities.  I suggest you take a good look and speak up now!  Tomorrow may be too late!!!

Yours in Nursing,

Heather Dean

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