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I am frequently shocked by accounts I hear about how badly UNDERstaffing that exists in many nursing homes. I’m a family member, so it is easy for nursing home owners and management to dismiss my concerns (and those of other family members) by claiming our expectations are too high. Management acts as if we family members are too dumb to realize that their facility does have “adequate staffing” — yet we often witness our loved one (and other residents as well) not having their needs met, because the resident-to-staff ratio is woefully INadequate.
So please don’t take my word about the evil of nursing home UNDERstaffing. Instead, please take the word of a newly-hired Certified Nurses Aide-In-Training. Her insider account of the facility where she works should make you angry and to realize that ALL of us have a responsibility to work to bring about ethical and sane staffing standards.
This visitor to our blog wrote the following, her name and location are kept confidential for the purposes of this account…
“I just started working at a nursing home as Certified Nurses Aide “in training” –read: no formal training.
On my own on a recent night I was the only aide working and was responsible for the care of 45 residents. The only other nursing staff member on duty in this unit was the nurse (who couldn’t be bothered about resident’s needs).
I ran all night, couldn’t keep up, just wanted to keep the residents clean and comfortable. So many! 3/4 of the residents are incontinent, 1/2 have motion sensors on them due to fall risk. 1/3 needed some extra compassion, and more every night with signs of infection. I cry every time I walk out. I get yelled at and shunned because I take too long, when all they want is a drink, a clean blanket, and maybe even a hug. I thought that was what anyone needed, but apparently, only if they can get it themselves. I have NO TRAINING and I was ALONE for an eight hour overnight shift. In addition to direct resident care, I also have to wash wheelchairs and chart those bowel movements.
Again, I have NO formal training yet, aside from the training I have given myself through research and hands on care. I followed a couple of aides around for a few days, only one of them was actually certified.
I have spent a total of four days in training for “corporate understanding”, which involves travelling to another town to hear about how great this company is, then going home to work a night shift.
I had two nights of “supervised” work, which meant that depending on who I was supervised by, I was either on my own or frantically looking for someone that knew what to do. However, I have been walking around in the same scrubs that certified aides wear, and when a resident sees me, they think help has arrived. I quickly learned to give up on finding someone else (more experienced) and just help them any way I can.
I spent the night trying to get her to help me with a resident that was screaming and pulling at her catheter, only to find that the nurses “help” was to go into the room and tell the resident, “Shame on you!”
I literally ran up and down the halls, trying to help everyone, trying in earnest to turn everyone every two hours, change everyone when soiled, strip and make beds with people still in them, lift and transfer residents alone on my own and dress them all starting at 3:30am to be gotten out of bed no later than 5:00am.
I tried to inform the nurse about a resident who had recently had a medication change and could no longer transport themselves to bathroom. The resident was vomiting and had diarrea. The nurse ordered me to “stop taking so long in there”.
A resident on Hospice needed a bed bath, I gave it, hour later, thought he may have been dying since he was panting and grunting. I went in to check on him and he took my hand and wouldn’t let go.. The nurse’s response, “That’s because you messed with him”.
This is all tip of iceberg. I thought I wanted to be a nurse, I have a good head for medicine, and a big heart. Now I think that that may be why I cannot go into this field. I will fight tooth and nail before admitting my mother to a nursing home. I know there are times it is needed, but people need it so they can get BETTER care, not so they can be institutionalized, ignored and treated like a piece of meat.
These resodemts don’t need much, but what they need is so important! Why couldn’t management hire two more nurses aids on third shift? I only get minimum wage for crying out loud!
I want to quit, and yet, who else will do this?”