Super Nurse! She was efficient, intelligent and did not suffer fools. Let’s call her Lee! She came breezing in through the door, with the manager following behind……
There were orders flying!!! She said if they thought they could treat Mum at the nursing home, they needed to do all they could not to spread the infection throughout the ward. There were signs posted on the door – instructions on washing hands and changing gowns – all staff would need to do this.
At the time there was an Acting Manager in charge – Sue – she was trying to listen to all that needed to be done. Lee wanted them there while she examined Mum’s leg to show them how to treat it.
I was watching on – delighted that finally there was some proper medical care happening at the nursing home. When she had finished, I thanked her so much for being there. I told her how I had been battling to get proper care for Mum. Lee said she was well aware of how some nursing homes operate – that she constantly put in complaints – and did what she could to help the patients.
As time went on I got to know Lee more – and she got to know Mum. She made such improvements in Mum’s leg – but then the progress would slow when she wasn’t always there to keep them on their toes. Also the rules were not followed. No one seemed to care that Mum had an MRSA infection – I was horrified it could spread to the other patients.
One staff member pointed out several of them had it anyway. What??? So not only were the dementia patients suffering with their condition – they had infections which could be prevented with a bit more care.
Once again I felt like I was back with Kert. Was I living in some alternate world? Was I crazy? They had lumped all these patients together – like they were aliens just waiting to die and it didn’t matter what extra preventative illnesses they had – they were going to die anyway – it was just God’s Waiting Room and the level of suffering was irrelevant!!!
It made me think of similarities in the horse world – what had become ‘normal’ – too few people were really ‘seeing’ the horse. They didn’t notice a stressed horse – or a horse in pain – or – very often – a confused horse. They didn’t understand they were speaking a language which was foreign to the horse. A ‘shut down’ horse was considered a ‘good’ horse – they weren’t seeing the sparkle in the eye – when finally you are communicating in a language the horse understands. I’ve put this picture up before – but I will present it here again.
It is a photo of Ducati in the early days of clicker training – he was just so excited. His whole demeanor changed – there was both relief of understanding – and excitement he was getting to solve a ‘puzzle’. There was such a willingness – but most importantly – a gentleness and softness. I think it’s the removal of stress which I noticed more than anything …. and then the joy!
I wanted these dementia patients to have the same! I wanted them to feel some sort of joy – even in their terrible situation. And I didn’t want them to feel pain. But in the world of aged care – patients crying, moaning, wanting to die, etc. had become ‘normal’.
How often did I hear similarities in the horse and aged care world – “Oh – they’re just putting it on!” “They’re ok – they always do that”. It made me want to scream!!!
I would come home and tell Doug all these stories. He described the ‘aged care world’ like this giant boulder – just rolling along. I come along and upset its course a tiny bit – but I’m just a little pebble – a minor irritation – finally it’s able to roll over the irritation and just keep on going……. yes – I think he’s right.
The Acting Manager – Sue – called me aside one day – she once again said people like my daughter shouldn’t compare a nursing home to a hospital – they were different. I couldn’t believe they were still worried about their reputation!!! – and that she was discussing that with me when my mother was so ill!!
I turned and said to Sue “Yes – they are two different things – so when the nursing home cannot treat the patient at the level of care required – who should make that call?” She replied “The registered nurse on duty” – and I said “Well – why isn’t that happening? Why are these people suffering because you do not have the expertise or the staff to treat them? Why haven’t they all been sent to hospital? If it’s the nurse on duty’s job to make a judgement – why aren’t they sending patient’s to hospital? I think that is the question – rather than comparing nursing homes to hospitals!”
She nodded and walked away. I hoped I had made my point. The nursing home was failing in its duty of care.
Something was changing. I could feel an underlying hostility towards me – they didn’t like ‘little pebbles’ like me. But as well as hostility – something else was happening – and I think in part because I confronted my ‘friend’ Stan Laurel…..
COMING UP – SECRETS SHARED…
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