Category Archives: Death

EXPIRY DATE

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There comes a time when you have to think about putting your loved one into an aged care facility. This decision is not to be taken lightly. I have been asked numerous times to advocate for a ‘Good Nursing Home’  sorry I cannot do that. I can only say I am not completely happy with any aged care facility I have ever worked in and I’ve been working in aged care for approximately 20 years.

When I began working in aged care, things were so different. If I managed to get a tea break, I would go to the staff room to make a coffee and sitting in that staff room were carers and Enrolled nurses who would all be discussing the care of the residents. These wonderful people (miss them terribly) knew everything about their residents. Off the top of their heads they could give you the run down on their likes and dislikes, allergies, at risk behaviours etc. They would discuss new ways to help their residents. for instance if an elderly person was having trouble with dressing, eating, showering, they would put their heads together to come up with new and inventive ways to address the situation, approach the Registered Nurse with this idea and we would work on it together. From there, it would be taken to an allied health specialist such as Physiotherapist, doctor, nutritionist etc and the life of the resident would be made so much better. These brilliant carers knew about equipment which would make their jobs easier and using it on the resident to make it safer. Safety was a big issue and they understood it and complied with regulations.

Those were the good old days.

Now, walking into a staff room all you see are staff sitting around the tables talking to their friends and relatives overseas. Ask any one of them about a resident and you get an answer like this, ‘Look at the notes’ ‘Look at the care Plan’ or ‘I don’t know’ They have absolutely no idea or any intention of understanding the care of the elderly they are there to care for. Even if the resident had been there for a number of years. They weren’t interested. To the carers these days, it’s just a job and to get through it as fast as possible so they can go home. Now don’t get me wrong. There are a few excellent carers working in aged care facilities. They are the ones who do care. They do their jobs well and will even stay behind to finish doing what they need to do to make it easier for the next shift and to ensure the resident is left the way they are supposed to be left. Clean, well fed, in no pain, comfortable and any issues they have spotted reported to the RN.

If the RN needs to know anything about a resident now, we need to go into the shower to examine the resident ourselves. We are checking for fragile, dry skin. Skin tears, toenail and fingernail length, pressure areas, we check their ears and eyes, nose and a lot more. Ask a carer now and I doubt if they even know who they just showered.

This might sound like I’m bagging carers but it’s the way things are now. Aged Care Facilities cannot run without money, and to make a profit they need to have the least number of staff on the floor at any one time. If there is 35 residents there will be 4 long shift carers for the entire shift and a few short shift carers. The short shift carers are there to help with the showering and meals. They go home early. Meanwhile the long shift carers will remain to assist with toileting after lunch and helping the residents with lunch. They will do a ’round’ which is to check continence pads and to toilet other residents who are able to go to the toilet but just need some assistance. There is no time to sit and talk to a resident. To ask them how they feel or do any little minor thing the resident would like.

Every time I see a commercial showing how wonderful an aged care facility is and how splendid the smiling, cheery staff are I seriously want to barf.. What a load of rubbish.

To see the picture clearly, you need to go there and see staff running their legs off, Sweating under the strain on heavy lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling and count how long each staff member has to attend each resident. I did a count once and it was frightening.

Read my next post for the breakdown.

Aged care facilities are not designed for the happiness of residents, they are there to make money. Full stop. Now I know this is going to sound really disgusting but I was at a facility one day and I asked where all the usual carers were and was told, “They are having an inspection and they only want to see white faces here” I nearly fainted. How racist and bigoted can anyone be??? I wondered who was coming and what sort of people they were to  say this..  If I had called the media over this, there would have been hell to pay. But as I have said before. Nobody wants to know. And it would have been difficult to prove.

I sort of feel fortunate working as an Agency Registered Nurse at times because we get to move around from facility to facility and we see it all.

Every Aged Care Facility has at their front door a charter of rights and responsibilities. These points are a legal requirement and they need to provide evidence to show it. To prove this, they have reams and reams of paperwork and documentation and the staff are required to fill out all documentation to show they are doing the right thing. Ha!

Aged Care Facilities also have people (Accreditation Team) come to check on all their paperwork to make sure this ‘Evidence Based Practice’ is being adhered to. (Stop laughing)  I was hired to do an afternoon shift one day and when I arrived, I saw 4 RNs sitting in the Nurses Office completing forms and filling out papers ready for the inspection. They were even signing medication charts where there were many, many signature omissions. Some signatures were from other Agency Registered and Enrolled nurses from months previous. But as long as the tiny little square had a squiggle in it, it was ok.  All care plans had to be updated with the correct information included which should have been done on admission. If and when the facility passes all their ‘standards’ they whoop whoop for days after and throw a celebration. This is a very serious issue. To not pass ‘Accreditation’ is the worst thing for all staff, the residents and the facility not to mention the boss who runs the facility. It doesn’t reflect well on any of them.. The Government will impose sanctions on the facility to prevent them from taking in any more residents until they meet the ‘Standards of Accreditation.’ The facility will only be allowed to have a certain number of residents. Cuts to funding is taken very seriously.

The one thing you need to make sure of if you put your family member in an Aged Care Facility is to be there on admission and make sure they have all the information on your relative/friend. The admission form is paramount to ensuring staff know who is responsible for having the say over financial matters, who makes decisions regarding their health and welfare, are there any toxic relations between family members which could impact on the health and happiness of your family member. Allergies, every aspect of daily living is included and should be addressed. Do they have a funeral organised and with whom? What are the details? Burial or cremation? Who is the funeral Director? Sleeping times, food likes and dislikes, clothing requirements, continence. Do they use continence aids? Do they have enough clothes and shoes? Are they labelled oh and please remember to label their dentures and spectacles. There’s nothing worse than removing dentures or spectacles to find out your family member has been wearing someone elses. Do they have an ‘End of Life’ care form completed? Don’t leave until it’s done. It will save you so much time and make it a bit easier for staff in the case of a death or an emergency. Do they have any old injuries? Do they have pain? There is so much but it must be included. The admitting nurse needs to get baseline readings. This is Blood pressure, temperature, pulse, weight, height, urinalysis and a whole lot more. So if the resident has any health episode the Nurse has the baseline to go by. Any differences will show us there is something wrong. There is a change in their health status and it needs to be investigated further.

Read my next post for the times given for each resident attendance.

 

 

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Expiry Date

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It was just after dinner and I was almost done with the dinner time medication round. I only had about 12 more people to give medications to and my medication trolley was in the corridor. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two of my carers running toward me. I stopped and looked at their faces. Now something like this is hard to describe and document because I think they were in shock and they were so excited and talking so fast.

I didn’t have time to ask them what was wrong. They burst into a chorus of “Marilyn come here quick.” I parked my trolley in a side room, locked the door and ran. At this time I was thinking there might have been an intruder or a fire.

As I entered the room the two carers were standing either side of a female resident’s bed. One of the carers pulled the bed linen off the elderly woman, and I must say, extremely frail woman only to show me her leg was broken. My mind raced to discover what had happened and how but knowing this elderly lady was a bit restless in her bed and constantly stuck her legs through the bedrails, I felt a surge of vomit in my throat when I realised what had happened.

The break was over the shin and it had a distinctive mark across the thin layer of skin.

Her leg was straight until it got past the knee and to the shin and that is where it turned inwards.  We looked at this broken bone and discovered it had been broken when someone had tried to let down the bed rail and had met some resistance. The bed rail would have then been pushed down very hard which crushed her leg. The perpetrator of this would have then placed her broken leg back into the bed and covered her up and left her.They left her. Left her in agonizing pain. Unable to voice her pain. Unable to do anything about it.

Immediately the Ambulance was called to transfer the poor woman to Hospital, notes were written, plus the mandatory reports. (Lots of them)

Before the woman was transferred to Hospital, I measured the red mark on her shin and compared the width of the top of the bed rail. Exactly the same width. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could do this to a frail and elderly person, then cover them up and leave them to suffer. This would have been excruciatingly painful. She would have been left like that for approximately 4 and a half hours and until the next shift came on and did a ’round.’  A round is where the carers go around to each and every resident and ask them if they would like to go to the toilet and if they were not able to verbalize, they would assist them to the toilet. Otherwise they would be in a continence pad and that would have to be checked.

This poor woman was the last on the list of people to check the pad and so it would have been about 2 pm the staff would have been to her room to check on her continence needs.

There was also a chart to tell who worked where and it didn’t take us long to work out who was responsible. I will tell you know though. After the report I made, I had a complaint made against me to my Agency which sounded something like this

“We don’t want Marilyn G back here again” “She keeps leaving us notes”  Leaving them notes?  Ha!  They couldn’t get rid of my notes because they are a legal document and if these reports I wrote were requested by ‘Freedom Of Information’ the family of this woman would have taken legal action.. I’m glad I wrote personal reports and photocopied incident reports. I have a very large box full of them.

This is not the last report I will write about the Health Care system. Keep your eye out. And if it makes you feel a bit queezey just imagine how it made me and others feel when it happened.I started Nursing 1995 as an RN and just flowed into Aged Care where I remained for nearly 20 years. The work is hard especially if you do the work and the pay isn’t much to sing about but it was very challenging..

The latest news about the abuse of the elderly man in the aged care facility was shown on channel 9 25/7/2016.  I have worked in this facility and never enjoyed it because there was a problem with some belligerent staff. Another facility I will never work in again.

Having cameras in resident’s rooms is a great idea but it infringes on their resident’s privacy and dignity. I don’t think it will ever be tolerated. The public are up in arms now over an incident relating to a young male carer who abused an elderly gentleman in an aged care facility. Sorry to say it but I have seen worse.

I haven’t been supported by the aged care facility or the Agency I worked for when making these complaints to the managers of these said facilities. They just don’t want to know about it and while they are raking in the money, they don’t give a hoot. Many times I’ve told family members to install  a secret camera in the room to catch the abusive staff members.

Carers take these jobs in Nursing homes because that is the only job they can get at the time and Centrelink encourage them to take it. Even if they are not suitable for the position.

Attitude play a big role in caring for elderly people. Staff cannot afford not to treat these people any other way but with respect and give them the dignity they deserve.

Channel 9 News asked for a comment from the ‘Council for the Ageing” and we hear there is a 5% to 10 % abuse incident rate. Well, lady. To that I say bull! I know it is more than double that.

Overall, I blame the Government for the compete lack of care in any and all Aged Care Facilities. Money is what drives them. Cheap labour. Hiring staff who cannot speak English and who give medications which cause damage to resident’s health.

When they have a Plebiscite on ‘Assisted Suicide” I will sign it and say yes please. I refuse to go into an Aged Care Facility.

I’m not sobbing anymore

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I went to see a doctor friend of mine yesterday and we argued over my need to take a medication for my ‘Severe Depression’
I couldn’t believe it. Me depressed? When I thought about it I had to agree with him. I decided I would begin the medication but only for a short time until I was back on track. I needed a mental break from the trauma…
I think with all the deaths I’ve had in my family, and I had been the one trying to hold the family together I’ve had no time to grieve myself and it hit me like a ton of bricks when my little dog ‘Lovey’ died. I couldn’t help sobbing and sobbing.

Lovey in the Pink Pot.
The photo of ‘Lovey’ when she was about one year old.

I went to work for 4 days and my concentration was so great on the job, I got through it quite well, but as soon as I got in my car to drive home at the end of the shift, I burst into tears and sobbed the whole way. That’s a lot of sobbing. My work shirts would be soaked with tears when I got home. Oh, it was awful.

So today after I commenced the medication, I get a bad headache about 15 minutes after (one of the side effects) but took care of that with my alternative therapy (will post it on youtube soon).

I was also suffering from separation anxiety too and as soon as I got ‘Lovey’ home in her little pink pot, I felt better. I was able to talk to her. Sounds crazy to someone who hasn’t been through it but it did help. Now I feel on the mend and am able to get on with my life. My family has had a lot of tragedy in our lives and I only hope it is over soon. I got an email from a friend of mine who equated it all with the Mayans and their prediction for the destruction of the Earth in 2012. More like the destruction of my family…

To be able to write things down and read them back it is like putting your troubles in a box and out of the way. It takes about 2 weeks for the trauma or change to soften in the mind. Like any change. Although there are some who just cannot put it away and they can suffer for years. I do feel for them. I am a very strong person but I will admit at this point in time, I have weakened a little. I hope to regain my mental strength. It will be a challenge as each and every day of life is a challenge and I’m not about to turn my back on a challenge.
Up to some exciting things and will let everyone know about them soon. Winter is time to work and summer is time to benefit from that hard work so watch out. Great things to come.
Marilyn xxx

The Pet left behind

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I have managed to pull myself out of the hole I fell into. I am so lucky to have been able to do it. I do have emotional strength and am able to analyze a situation, come up with a solution and get on with it. Thank goodness for that.

I have been worrying about my little Papillon ‘Boo’ who has lost her little friend ‘Lovey.’ It’s been hard on all of us losing that little girl and I believe Boo has been feeling it too, so 2 days ago I thought to myself ‘she needs some sort of replacement or something to take her mind off her loss too.’ I had already ordered doggie items from a great online site called ‘My Pet’s Wardrobe’ and I visited the site again and saw the smallest pink teddy bear for little doggies.. It’s a great idea. Pet’s can’t be left to grieve without you helping them get through it. They need guidance, after all we do take care of them, and their emotional wellbeing is just as important as ours. A few days ago, Boo tried to tear the jacket I bought for ‘Lovey’ apart so this was the closest I could get to something fluffy and light…

It arrived today. Yes 2 days later I got my order and as I was talking to the delivery girl about our lost pet, I pulled the teddy from the packet and gave it to ‘Boo.’ No explanations needed really. I squeezed the teddy over the sticky tab wich said ‘Squeeze me’ and it squeeked.. ‘Boo’s’ ears pricked up and she jumped up to grab it so I threw it and off she went. That was about half an hour ago and she is still playing with it. Having a wonderful time.

Have given instructions to the family not to allow Boo to take it outside as it will get filthy dirty and the squeeker inside the teddy will fill with water rendering it useless if I have to wash it. At his moment, Boo is under the coffee table near me and chewing this poor teddy. Maybe I should have ordered a few of them because I can’t see this thing lasting too long.

This is part of the healing process for her and us too. If she is happy them we can be happy. Nothing worse than seeing a pet fretting over the loss of another family member or pet. Having a lovely sunny day here today so it’s now time to go outside and let Boo have a run. Yeah right… how do I get the teddy from her now??? Here goes..
Boo and her Teddy
Marilyn xxx
Boo and her therapy Teddy

Boo!

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OK so now what?
What do you do when you have experienced so much grief and in such a short time?
Our year began with a bang! Our home electrical appliances began to explode or just give in!
We lost our fridge, our clothes dryer, the iron, the microwave, the phone.

Then my father passed away and about 6 weeks later I lost the dearest sweetest little dog. All she ever did was smile and ask to be cuddled and loved. Crap. could it get any worse???
I work in Aged care a lot and I deal with death as if it’s a release for them. They’ve had a full life, and the illnesses and problems they have don’t give them any quality of life. Some elderly residents pray for death. They will refuse to eat and drink. They will cry out in pain. They will refuse treatments and medications because they’ve had enough. I feel for them and I understand their emotional and physical pain. When my Dad passed away it was sudden, but I know if he had been given the choice he would have opted for the quick way out. He didn’t want to linger and it was something I had discussed with both my parents.
I felt relief for him when he went because he was in no more pain. I will say though it was very hard not to lose it. It was a sad time for all.

Then the loss of ‘Lovey’ last friday evening. I didn’t have time to deal with my Dad’s passing and I was faced with a loved one’s death again.

Now we have Boo! We got Boo soon after we got ‘Lovey’ to be a housemate so ‘Lovey’ wouldn’t get lonely if we had to go out and couldn’t take her with us. Now Boo is left and looking a bit lonely. Hmmmmmmm tricky situation. ‘Lovey’s’ cothes will never fit Boo. Boo won’t sleep next to me as that was ‘Lovey’s’ spot on the bed so she curls up on the warm wheat bag at my feet. She is doing some odd things now and looking a bit forlorn… I need to keep her busy to keep her mind off it… Ok so the other night I ordered a little teddy bear. It should be delivered tomorrow as I paid for express post..

When I received the little fluffy jacket I ordered for ‘Lovey’ and pulled it out of the packet, Boo thought it was a teddy and grabbed it and tried to run… She thought it was a teddy. Ooohhhhh… Poor little bugga. I had to take it from her and put it away. In actual fact I had to nearly pry her jaws open to get it from her. Come on the teddy. It’s pink and fluffy and it comes from a wonderful online pet store call ‘My Pet’s Wardrobe’.. It might give Boo something to do.

I thought of purchasing a small soft toy in the shape of a dog for her to play with but that thought brings about some pretty odd imaginings…

Have you ever wondered about people who have loved a pet so much they wanted to have it cloned??? What a stupid idea. I mean really.. How many times do these nitwits want their hearts broken. That pet will never outlive them and they’ll be left to mourn the same dog again… Nah! Dumb idea..
I personally couldn’t do that. As much as I would love to have this precious, tiny little baby back in my arms… I still couldn’t do it. That pet wouldn’t be the same either. They wouldn’t have a lifetime of experiences, they would only look the same. I suppose a few of their mannerisms would be identical but that’s probably it.

I did some soul searching tonight and asked myself how I could be so devastated and lonely by the loss of this little pet and after considerable time and thought, I realised.. The passing of my Dad was difficult and someone had to do all the things needed so my mother wouldn’t have to do it and go it alone. I never had time to grieve then. After that I went to work to keep myself busy and it did help. Then we lost ‘Lovey’ and the pain has doubled… It all came back with a vengeance and has been haunting me. I have never felt so desolate in my life. I have been crying and sobbing for 4 days now. It’s been said.. ‘Time heals all wounds’ It does too. I am waiting for ‘time’ to heal my wounds… and it better bloody well hurry up too. I have a life to get on with and a family who rely on me… Does any of this make sense or am I just babbling away???

How do I get a doggie hoodie on Boo with her ears?

Boo’s ears naturally stand up..