I will do my best to keep her at home and look after her myself, hopefully with the help of her other four children!
Although those intentions are good, it may not be practical if her medical condition deteriorated to a point where we were unable to accommodate her needs.
WHY do I feel this way?
I trained in geriatric nursing nearly 25 years ago, where I received excellent training and I have had a passion for nursing all these years, and now after being employed in acute care settings, I have returned in the past 5 years to Aged Care Nursing, doing the "hard yards on the floor". It is quite a difference to "the old days".
After working in some “hell holes” of places, two years ago I began work at an extra services aged care facility. The rooms resemble that of a "very nice motel" having a mini refrigerator, microwave, TV, state of the art electric beds that lower and raise, lovely doona covers and matching drapes, own ensuite, built in wardrobes, as well as beautiful furniture and fittings, big lounges and dining rooms, balconies, the promise of extra and excellent care, chef prepared meals etc. make this a very impressive looking and inviting nursing home.
This facility is private. To be able to secure a permanent room here and the services promised, you will need deep pockets to pay for the pleasure, including a hefty bond payment. In other words – you cannot come here and live permanently on a pension and let the government pay for it through funding – you will need to come up with approx. $1,000 per week – possibly more for some rooms – possibly a little less – but you won’t get much change if any from the $1,000 a week. One may have to sell up the home or assets to be able to afford such accommodation and services. If you require nursing care, depending on the level of care you require, the facility can and will apply for funding from the government. It will all depend on your needs as to what category of nursing is required thus the funding paid will depend on this.
Sounds good if you can afford it, but is this place all it is cracked up to be?
Aesthetically, it is a lovely place. But to be honest, after going through a change of management and quite a few Directors of Nursing over a relatively short period – it has many problems. The problems exist on many fronts but the most are ‘care’ related for me.
I do not like what I see from some carers. If we could get rid of the ‘bad apples’ and employ good, dedicated, and compassionate carers and nurses, then things might change. Lets face it, no place is perfect, and I believe there will always be problems in aged care. But the problem is that it is very difficult to get good people to work in this industry given the lousy pay, high nurse-carer/resident ratios, and including the multi-skilling needed. As a carer, we do not just deliver direct care, but one has to be a waitress, sometimes a kitchen hand, laundry person, cleaner etc.
Being a carer is very demanding both physically and mentally. But some of us do love the job which is why we are still in it. I cannot tolerate working with staff who do not give quality care – instead, some cut corners and deliver questionable care to our elderly who deserve so much more.
Where I work we do not have enough permanent care staff, so the facility uses a lot of agency staff. Some of them become regular to the facility and get to know the residents, and on the whole they are good carers – but there is also many who ‘just come for the day’ never to return again, and provide less than adequate care.
This does not help with the continuity of care to the residents, having different people everyday attend to the care needs of residents, who one will probably never see again.
My main issues are: Manual handling
We are not living in the dark ages here – we have access to lifting devices/aides but still some ‘bad apple’ staff continue to haul residents around. Even when they know that a particular resident requires 2 persons to assist in a transfer/lift, they still proceed to do it on their own – endangering not only themselves but the resident.
Even though in staff meetings this issue has been raised many times – with the threat of dismissal if found out or reported on – it still continues.
Nursing Care and "Pressure Area" Care
General nursing care can be called very "basic care".
- Pressure area care is another of my issues. Pressure sores appearing over a couple of days – I don't have to wonder because I know the cause – pressure care has not been carried out.
- I hate it when carers do not give the residents a wash before going to bed, and cleaning their teeth! Have to wonder what kind of hygiene they use on themselves? But in all honesty, I believe this work practice is just laziness.
Don’t get me started. Many residents do not receive enough food and fluids.
Carers are at the forefront of delivering care, and it is mostly the carers looking after these residents who just don’t feed them properly or have the patience to do so – most carers will say it is because they are short staffed and are trying to feed more than one person at a time and unfortunately this is true.
I will say no more, because it just breaks my heart.
Many care staff are untrained/unskilled with no formal qualifications, having found their way into this job by way of many reasons.- Maybe some of them looked after an old aunt or something and decided this was their ‘calling to be a nurse’. For whatever reason they have been able to secure a job in this industry – and give us good nurses/carers a bad name by the way they treat residents.
I will say that there is some good carers though who do not have any formal training, but they are usually a mature person and lets face it, basic nursing care is just common sense most of the time.
I have observed some carers:
- swear and be rude to residents;
- ignore residents;
- push and hit residents;
- antagonise residents and basically treat residents with disdain.
It is just deplorable the way some residents are treated. It really just makes me sick. I have driven home many times in tears and wish never to go back to this place of work, but one becomes very attached to the residents and have good relationships with them – hence you don’t want to leave them – So I have stuck it out – I know there is a light at the end of this tunnel – I am just waiting for it to come on and beam.
So over the past 6 months or more, I have become the "dibba dobba" of my workplace and reported carers and including one Registered Nurse and a Manager at one time, because I cannot stand it any longer. I don't want to leave the job I love, and so I take action! It has resulted in 3 of them "disappearing" from employment. The other two staff, I believe are on warnings. The funny thing is that my manager now allocates these 2 particular carers to work with me most weekends. I know there is "method in his madness" by doing so.
So no, I don’t want my mother to enter a nursing home if she requires it down the line. If I had to put her in one I will be one of these relatives who practically live at the facility.