Nights were scary times for my mother when she was living in a nursing home setting.  The noises from staff and other residents often frightened her.  And it was really hard for me to go home for the night as many times she would beg me to “stay” all night long at her bedside. Several nights I didn’t want to leave her alone in an understaffed nursing home, especially (as was often the case) her room was several feet away from the nurse’s station.  Would the staff even check her — let alone, when needed, turn her in bed — every two hours as they were mandated by the state?  Would they leave her wet most of the night because they didn’t have enough staff on second shift to take her to the restroom?

I often sensed how very lonely my mother was — day and night — in many of the nursing homes where she lived.  I really didn’t mind spending several hours each day with her.  To help her feel less lonely, less frightened it was worth all the time I could spare to visit with my mother.

I always called to check on my mom as soon as I arrived back at my apartment, no matter how late it was.  I think the phone calls between visits are really important: they provide the nursing staff a reminder that someone cares about the resident and therefore they are accountable both to the resident as well as to their loved one(s).

As I sit at my desk in my apartment at 12:20am, my eyes fill with tears.  Again tonight I miss my momma.  Again tonight I feel her “late night fears” and her frustration with the nursing homes where she lived.

My momma was a great lady.  She worked harder than most people I know.  When I was in grade school she walked 42 blocks per day, five days per week to and from her sub-minimum wage school crossing guard job (we didn’t have a car).  She was a crossing guard Mondays through Fridays.  Then she worked hard as a cook and waitress (yet another sub-minimum wage job) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Joann Poland’s work ethic was inspiring to me!  The quality of her work always held in high regard by bosses, co-workers and her customers. It then seems all the more unjust that many of the nursing home staff who cared for her lacked much (if any) work ethic!  Many of them didn’t think twice about arriving late for work; arriving under the influence of alcohol and other mood-altering substances; taking multiple breaks they weren’t allowed to take; taking breaks outside of the building with multiple co-workers; thus endangering the safety of my mother and her fellow residents.  How pathetic it was to wait up to 2 1/2 hours (often at least 45 minutes) for a CNA and/or nurse to respond to a call light to take my mother (who was taking a diuretic [e.g., a medicine that made her pee!] to the restroom.   The crappy care my mother (and other nursing home residents) put up with is obscene.  It is neglect and therefore abusive.

“Lord, I thank you for giving me a hard working mother!  How I miss her tonight!  My heart breaks as I think of the loneliness she experienced in various nursing homes where she lived.  Loneliness that could have been lessened by adequate staffing.  Adequate staffing that was prevented by corporate greed.

Please Lord, comfort all nursing home residents this night — give them caregivers who have nothing less than a loving heart and an outstanding work ethic! And Lord please touch, as I believe only you can, the heart of every nursing home executive, stockholder, administrator and management person so that the the power of greed be broken in their heart and mind once and for all and that a commitment to providing the highest quality of compassionate care take it’s place.”