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I received a hash (OK, downright hateful) missive earlier today from an individual who appears to be a nursing home administrator. I feel that the writer’s confusion about what I’m posting on this blog deserves a response. Even if I can’t clear up their obvious misunderstandings about me and my situation, at least I can take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you who are new to reading this blog.
First, the dear writer of the hateful message questioned if I personally knew about “Medicaid nursing homes”, meaning a long-term care facility that accepts payment for resident care from Medicaid. While I’ve never been a paid employee of any nursing home, indeed Medicaid-funded nursing homes are the ONLY kind of nursing homes I am familiar with. Most all of the funding for my late mother’s nursing home care came from Medicaid. While I wasn’t on staff at any of the facilities where my mother lived, it was not uncommon for me to be inside the nursing homes where my mother lived for an average of 6 to 8 hours per day, nearly every single day my mother lived in such “Medicaid Nursing Homes”, which again were the ONLY kind of nursing homes she ever lived in.
So yes, as a family member who for nearly five years personally experienced, day in and day out, what goes on in nursing homes, I’m more than qualified to comment on the industry and to challenge the deceptive, manipulative crap that it tries to get away with in the name of “resident care”. One of the truly evil methods nursing home owners and management engage in (some on a nearly daily basis) is lying to nursing home residents and family members about the very real problems that residents have to endure. To the paid liars who work for the nursing home industry I have a message: you can lie or deny all you want, but the truth is still the truth!
To correct the misunderstanding of the writer in terms of how I view the nursing home industry and the individuals who work in it, let me state again that I know there are many excellent, compassionate and honest people who work as care givers in nursing homes. I would like to believe that most nurses and aides are worthy of great respect for consistently providing excellent care.
Further, as I have already acknowledged on this blog, I realize that virtually all staff members — including nursing home administrators — experience a degree of stress (sometimes LOTS of stress), especially if they truly care about the resident’s entrusted to their care. You will always have CNAs, nurses and administrators who seem to only care about one thing: collecting a pay check. As such, they give (at best) mediocre care to the individuals they are paid to take care of.
We all know (and messages I regularly receive from nursing home staff members are in agreement with this observation) that there are serious problems within the nursing home industry — most of which appear to be tied directly to the underlying problem of corporate greed. Further, while non-profit nursing homes are certainly not “perfect”, from all appearances they provide a higher quality of care (including the ones who accept Medicaid payment) than their for-profit counterparts.
As long as mediocre administrators, incompetent caregivers and deceptive employees are part of the nursing home industry, obviously this blog (and others) that challenge the status quo are much needed. Someone has to spread the truth in order to stop the suffering caused by the harmful individuals who work within the nursing home industry.
Most of the messages sent to me by readers of this blog express appreciation for it’s content. But every few months I usually receive feedback that is a little (or a LOT) less than “appreciative” (understatement) of the informaiton and opinions posted on Nursing Home Reality.
As a general rule, most critics of my blog self-identify as employees of nursing homes. They are quick to point out that they feel “attacked” by what I’ve posted. Yet if one were to really understand what is posted here I would hope that 1) I do not paint all nursing home staff as bad or incompetent individuals and 2) I have much respect for the hard work done by nurses and nurses aides who work in long-term care facilities.
My most recent “love letter” comes from a woman who identified herself as a nurses aide who has worked in the long-term care industry on and off for nearly 40 years. Her comments and my response follow…
„« You have so many rules for people who are
„« willing and able to do a job that you have no
„« intentions of ever doing, nor are you capable.
I’ve done my best to take care of my mother. At the same time, due to my physical limitations and her need for around-the-clock care, I allowed her admission to a nursing home with the hope that she would receive a far higher level of care than I could possibly provide for her. This is NOT because I didn’t care. This IS because I wanted her to receive an appropriate level of care.
Then again, what are you complaining about? If you work in a nursing home, people like my mother are helping to pay your salary.
„« People who work in nursing homes, work
„« very, very hard throughout their shift!
Yes, many do. But from my personal observation, many don’t. Many (especially those who work nights and weekends, when management is not around) appear to give the LEAST amount of care that they can get by with.
I don’t know the percentages of “good” caregivers vs. “mediocre” ones vs. “awful” ones, but I do know that my mother has often had to wait 30 or more minutes to be taken to the rest room. On at least a dozen occasions during the 4 1/2 years that my mother lived in and out of nursing homes, I personally witnessed her have to wait OVER ONE HOUR (and a few times OVER TWO HOURS) to be taken to the restroom from the time her call light was activated. Oh and did I mention the one nursing home that allowed my mother to go 10 to 14 days without having a bowel movement? That isn’t just “neglect”, that is downright CRIMINAL.
„« They max out their bodies lifting, pulling, and pushing.
Isn’t that part of the job description (e.g., transferring non-ambulatory residents)? There are Hoyer lifts and other devices to assist the transferring of residents from one piece of furniture to another, thus miniming the wear and tear on the caregiver. If the facility is too cheap to provide these devices for the staff, that is NOT the fault of the resident.
„« They clean up more bowel movement and
„« other bodily fluids than you have most likely
„« seen in two years time, many times with the
„« resident cussing at them and even trying to
„« hit or spit at them.
Again, isn’t this part of the job description? If you don’t like doing the job, please (for the sake and safety of your residents) find ANOTHER line of work!
As to the residents cussing and trying to “hit or spit” at their caregivers, why does this happen? Could it possibly have something to do with the APPROACH of the caregiver? My mother didn’t
scream or act out against most of her caregivers. She usually only
screamed when they raised their voices at her or IGNORED her right to refuse treatment (which she had the LEGAL right to refuse).
„« They rush to get 35 or more people up and
„« cleaned up, changed and dressed, while the
„« other residents are laying on their call lights.
„« Many time these are the residents that have
„« already been cared during another shift that
„« feel they have not received enough of our
„« time and attention. It gets very hectic to put
„« it mildly!
Thank you for supporting my viewpoint: Most nursing homes are NOT adequately staffed! Then again, why would you think that it would OK to IGNORE the needs of a resident just because they were given care on a previous shift? If you are speaking of an 8 hour shift or 12 hour shift, it is NOT too much to expect nursing home residents NEED assistance on EVERY shift, especially if they are not ambulatory or have dementia. Again, this is part of the job description (e.g., to provide care to every resident assigned to them on every shift, as needed).
„« Nurses aides get little respect and
„« credit from the nurses, who are
„« often abusive and snippy toward them
„« (some exceptions though) and also
„« little respect from resident’s families or
„« the residents themselves. Low pay, risk to
„« their health, poop-stainned uniforms and
„« shoes that they can rarely afford to replace
„« often enough.
Again, I TOTALLY AGREE with you. From what I’ve seen at most of the nursing homes where my mother lived, aides were treated as
second-class (or worse) employees by nurses, nursing supervisors and administrators. This isn’t the fault of the resident or the family
members. For the record, I’ve been on the receiving end of verbal
abuse by nurses aides and nurses. On two occasions during the past
year, after visiting my mother I returned to my vehicle to find that
someone (a caregiver?) had let the air out of one of my tires! I’ve
also heard from at least one nurse that they have had their automobile vandalized by a CNA that they had written up for bad job performance. I also know of at least one aide that was found to have stolen the property of some of her co-workers. And I can’t tell you of the number of times I’ve heard stories about nurses and nurses aides who have stolen money, jewelry and other belongings from their residents.
„« There are several residents that
„« don’t belong in a nursing home but
„« rather in a mental ward, and I am
„« not referring to Alzheimer’s Disease/
„« Dementia patients either. They have
„« mental issues.
When were you trained to diagnose mental disorders? I don’t doubt that some nursing home residents have mental problems other than Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. But it is NOT the fault of the resident that they aren’t in a different type of facility. There are very few facilities that offer long-term care of mentally ill individuals and most insurance will only pay for hospitalization to “stabilize” the mental health problems. So nursing homes becomes a catch-all facility for persons with both physical and mental disorders. But that is NO excuse for abuse or neglect of persons who have emotional problems beyond their control.
„« If the worst thing a nurses aide does
„« is to smoke outside on one of
„« their few breaks, you should
„« congratulate her!
For the record, I don’t care if a CNA or nurse smoke on their break –
what they do while on their break is none of my business. However, as a family member, it becomes my business if the nursing staff are taking an EXCESSIVE amount of time on their breaks, since doing so risks the safety of my loved one. You are NOT paid to smoke. You are NOT paid to talk on your cell phone. You ARE paid to care for your residents.
Again, to clarify, I’ve never claimed that “all” nursing home caregivers are bad or incompetent individuals. I have great respect for the very hard work that many of them do day in and day out. To be sure, I believe that most nurse’s aides are underpaid given the amount of hard physical work they are expected to do. And I’m totally on the side of both nurses and nurse’s aides who share my concern about the gross understaffing of most nursing homes. Indeed I hope more caregivers will joing family members like myself to pressure the owners and administrators of long-term care facilities to provide adequate staffing. And, in those states who lack minimum staffing requirements, I hope that caregivers will join me in pressuring legislators to pass legislation that will mandate appropriate staffing levels in long-term care facilities.