I find that most of the comments left on this website are worthy of being the focus of a new journal entry, instead of just a comment tacked on to at the bottom of a previously published entry. Such is certainly the care of what a reader identified as “L.C.” thoughfully wrote a few weeks ago. Remember this is a person who has worked in the nursing home industry, so her comments are based on her personal experience and first-hand observations. She writes…

“For almost 20 years I worked in nursing homes as a Restorative Aide. I began my career and received training in a wonderful facility in another state. We had a staffing ratio of 1 aide for every 5 residents. The facility was clean and bright and the staff was there to make sure those last years were the best they could make them. Even more surprising (in hindsight) was how well the management cared for the staff. We received the training, support and time we needed to give great care. I was proud to be working there.

Then I moved to another state where the acceptable ratios were 1 aide for every 10 residents (first shift),1 aide for every 15 residents (second shift) and 1 aide for every 25 residents (third shift).  The focus at this facility clearly was (finaincial) profit. The poorest quality supplies, never enough time, staff that was tired and discouraged…all of this leading to very poor care.

I remember starting to feed a sweet little lady one morning and wondering what she was chewing on. I cleaned her mouth with a toothette and found it was BOWEL MOVEMENT! No morning staff had any time to do oral care, so who knows how long she had this in her mouth. I felt so bad for her. This was just one example of the kind of thing that happens when staff does not have the time to do their jobs.

I remember one nursing home resident saying that no staff member took the time to look at her face. How awful is that!

I made it my mission to hug and talk to every resident I was with, but it was never enough. I feel that the aides I worked with did their best, often missing breaks and their own lunch time to take care of residents. I saw aides spend their own money on residents at holiday time, buying little gifts for someone because they needed a little extra attention.

It is so important to feel special and loved every day and aides try to fill that gap when family is not able to be there. They do all this without any help or support from the people who own and run these places. Owners rely on the goodness of the staff to make it look better than it actually is, yet the ones who pay the price for this are always the residents and the staff who struggle to care for them.

I eventually retired from the work. It just got too hard to do both physically and emotionally. Now we are trying to keep our own parents at home (in their 80′s) because we know what the world of nursing homes is like. I hope a truck hits me before I need a nursing home.”

What a powerful testimonial to the horrible nature of the corporate greed that controls the for-profit sector of the nursing home industry when someone with nearly 20 years job experience states she is doing everything she can to prevent her parents from ever needing to live in a nursing home AND that should would rather die than live in a nursing home!

My mother, who passed away on January 1, 2011, would scream at me — ordering me to leave her apartment on the occasions when I asked her to just consider living in a nursing home. She had seen the problems associated with the care of her own family members (problems that I hadn’t even noticed), so she knew that living in a nursing home would be a pathetic experience. For her it was. The corporate greed that lead to undestaffing of the facilities where my mother lived for nearly the last five years of her earthly life caused my mother new and more severe health problems than the diagnosis of dementia that lead to her first nursing home admission. My mother clearly knew what she was talking about and so does “L.C.”. Nursing homes that place finanical profit above quality resident care should be avoided at all costs.