Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Because Meetings Are So Useful

     Especially without a lawyer present.  Had a sit-down with my family and various brass at Mom's retirement home yesterday, right down to the (not so long on the job) Chief of Nursing.  There were promises that the guilty were being disciplined and heads would roll, etc., etc.  Also "education" would be addressed.  --What, stuff like the most basic of basic First Aid?  Seriously, staff's weak on that?  What are they, custodian's in nurse's scrubs?*

     Don't know about heads but my eyes were.  It was all "the floggings will continue until morale improves," with little to no understanding that these incidents -- and other, lesser, failings -- are only happening on nights and weekends.  They're indicative of a profoundly alienated (and probably insufficient) staff, especially at the lowest levels: they don't see managers unless they screw up and get yelled at, written up or worse and, in the way of nights & weekends everywhere, they figure if they do the very minimum (or fake it), then that's just that much less to screw up and chewed out about.

     This is one thing if you're stamping out cheap plastic widgets down to The Plant or stocking shelves at BiggieMart; it's a very different thing if your work product and client base is elderly, fragile, vulnerable human beings.

     I don't want my Mom to go back there, especially to their "rehab" (almost-a-hospital-looking) wing.  But she chose the place, her only surviving sister is there, too, and during days and evenings, you couldn't ask for better.  Outside those hours, it's another matter.  Even at the hospital she's in at present, doctors and paper-pushers are looking at her injuries and asking, "You're sure you want to go back there when we release you?"

     An important element here is that Mom's as all-there as you or me.  She's not strong, she's physically fragile, but she know what's going on.  She decides for herself.

     I'll tell you what, in the early days of my retirement, I intend to take up high-risk adventures, because when I imagine myself in Mom's position, there will be nobody to act as my advocate -- and I am not convinced my sibs and I are advocating effectively enough with three of us and a couple of well-adult nieces who just happen to be nurses (one's a Nurse-Practitioner!) to advise.  I think -- I hope -- we can get Mom decent care, even in the off hours, but it's going to be a struggle, and I don't think the management of that retirement home is going to be much use.  They don't see nature of the problem and it has somehow failed to register that there are more jobs for nurses and aides than there are qualified workers: push 'em too hard and they just go elsewhere.

     Oh, the administrators and managers running scared right now -- they should be; this would be a great story for the evening news and an even better lawsuit; I'm sure a little digging would turn up plenty more incidents happening to other patients and when you walk into court with a line-up like that....  Well!   There are other considerations, though: run a line-up of vulnerable seniors through days and weeks, possibly months of a trial?  Let defense attorneys pick their testimony to bits?  And having sued one facility, where are you going to put them that won't see them as ticking bombs instead of people in need of decent care?

     I have no answers.
* See, this is why people tell me I'm harsh and unfeeling -- which as near as I can figure, means I won't pretend bullshit is reality.  Hey, that's my Mom, the closest I had to an ally in an unhappy childhood. Tell it to the Marines.


fillyjonk said...

It's sad and infuriating that I have heard similar situations from a number of people I know. I suppose there's something dehumanizing about the whole nursing-home setting that makes the workers forget it's someone's mom or dad or sister or brother or whatever there.

Go get 'em. I don't think you're being unfeeling to demand that they have appropriately-trained and appropriate-acting people being paid to care for another human being....

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Given that you work for a local media outlet with an investigative staff willing and able to ferret out the truth, I would think just dropping that little nugget of information would really chill the room.

stuart said...

Seems to be the same the world over. So called carers are paid the minimum wage so you don't get the best people, not that that excuses anything, if you're being paid to look after people you should do it properly whatever you're paid. Over here in England someone saw an advert for a gardener at twice the hourly rate for a carer.

Cincinnatus said...

If anyone had an IQ above room temp, they would realize that this well-documented incident will be key evidence against them for malpractice upon the next incident - whether your mom or another patient - where a patient is harmed.

Give 'em extra hell, Roberta.

Cookie said...

From personal experience:
Be frank and tell them exactly what you expect from the staff at ALL times. Read if off a list if that helps and make sure all family members understand what is expected also. Document all meeting (who, what, where) and interactions. Drop by at odd times, this really helped out my situation. Also doesn't hurt to mention that you have an attorney on detainer. These steps really helped when my grandfather was in a nursing home that wasn't giving him proper care. The staff might not like it, but I wasn't trying to be their friend. Hope your mom gets better soon.


Anonymous said...

A $10 pre-paid cellular phone with a full year of service costs a total of $110 (Wal-Mart TracFone).

That can function as a quasi-"I've fallen and can't get up!" device.

Just sayin'...

Sigman said...

Give em hell and cut them no slack!

Roberta X said...

Anon: Mom has a cellphone. Keeps it handy, too. Difficult to use one when you have broken your neck, half the fingers of one hand, are bleeding profusely from the forehead -- and you're unconscious.

Getting her to use it to telephone the nurses when they don't respond to a call? Even more difficult. For most of my family, if things are supposed to work a certain way, then that's how they otta work: you push the button and help shows up in short order, period. :)

Andrew W. said...

Nuke them. Nuke them hard. Turds like that killed my mom-in-law, denied access to hamy handicapped wife and her service animal, and kept us out of the loop.

We'd go to her room, turn on the tv, plug in the Christmas tree, clean her, clear her throat and nostrils and change her clothes. She would wake up and move and be active.

We leave the room for 15 minutes, the lights would be off, the tree unplugged, the room dark and still (and bad smelling) as a tomb.

Two years after, my wife still has nightmares.

We missed our chance due to my wife's issues, but get your chance in now!

Anonymous said...

Some of them are OK. And a lot of the people do care about their charges. But they are the ones who tend to be better at their jobs and get that extra certification so they end up on 1st shift. Sad but true. Have seen the good and the bad with family members.

Meetings are fine, but what puts the fear of all the gods into nursing home management is state regulators. There is probably a mechanism for reporting these issues. That is a 2-edged sword or maybe it is a sledge hammer. But it is there as sort of the nuclear option for families.

Failure call 911. Moving a head/neck injury. Etc. Isn't good.

Here is hoping that things improve.