If you're involved with a nursing home in any way, how can you help change the situation? Perhaps it would help in the long run to contact your legislators and make this issue a priority in your future voting decisions.
But for now, you can help prevent the loss of more employees, from nurses to CNAs, by being patient and understanding, and encouraging residents and family members to be, too.
To give you some insight into exactly what nursing-home caregivers are facing each and every day, here is a brilliant, anonymous essay posted on Facebook by Cindy Shepard, and reproduced here with her permission. Please give these words careful consideration before complaining to or about anyone involved in direct care-giving; I know I will.
You walk onto the floor and you have 25 patients. 25 humans you are responsible for, 25 humans you will have to know everything about. When they eat, if they eat, how much they pee, what color it is, when their last bowel movement was, what color, shape, and consistency it was, what their labs look like, their cognitive status, if they have wounds, what meds are due, what are their vitals.
You get to the floor and get report on these 25 people. All not well, some with orders that need completing. One has bladder scans every 6 hours and has to be cathed if they are over a certain limit; one is on an IV infusion every 6 hours and frequent monitoring. 5 ARE aggressive and need to be kept away from others. At least one had a fall requiring neuro checks every hour; one is dying with no family at their side.
Then imagine being short staffed.
Then imagine the family calling wanting a check up on their family members and complaining when you can’t get on the phone right now. Imagine that you are in the middle of cleaning up a patient, alone, when the family calls and you can't stop to take the call but will call them as soon as you're done. Imagine your manager reprimanding you for not taking the call as the family is angry and complaining.
Then imagine 6 of those 25 calling out for pain meds every 2 hours. Some of it is pain seeking, some of it is actual pain from the cancer or other causes. Then the one that is dying needs pain meds for comfort every hour and just wants someone at their bedside.
Oh, and don't forget the high fall risk patients that you have circled around your station so you can keep an eye on them.
Then imagine doing everything you can for all these humans you are responsible for and getting cursed out, talked down to, criticized for not being “fast enough,” asked “where were you?” and told “I’ve been on the light for 20 minutes?!”
NOW imagine also not having a enough CNA’s - the backbone of the skilled nursing system! So now, with all of that, you’re also TRYING to help respond to call lights, bathroom calls, changing patients, turning patients every 2 hours, getting water, getting snacks, emptying catheters, measuring intake and output, bathing, and more changing. Imagine a patient getting upset because you didn't bring them coffee and snacks quick enough and giving meds for comfort to your dying patient.
And now… you have a new admit coming to the floor with a wound vac, needing pain meds that you don't have. Another human, another life to take care of.
Now imagine administration always complaining you never do enough, dressings aren’t changed on time; tubing isn’t labeled correctly; rooms are messy. Charting isn’t done, write ups are threatened.
This is Nursing.
This is Why we are burned out.
This is Why we are short staffed.
This is Why Nurses and CNA’s are leaving the profession.