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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Jewels From Joanne /   Editorial List

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 Jewels From Joanne

I would like to share a note I recently received from a reader: 

You called me a Fearless Caregiver, when I took care of my beloved husband.  When I wrote you about how I got his care taken care of at the nursing home, you praised me, highly. Well, the TV is on for noise.  An ad was just running with a number to call if you feel your loved one has been abused in a nursing home.  I got livid, then angry and then I decided I would write you again.

If your family member has to go to the nursing home, then your responsibilities go way up on the scale.  You have to remember the old adage, "The squeaking wheel gets the grease!"  You have to become creative and very pro-active.  I never allowed them to get comfortable with my coming in the nursing home.  I was in and out at all hours.  My husband loved football games!  I'd be there to see that he could watch them and got the rest of the residents involved so we ended up with weekend parties.  Staff even got involved.  It was so simple, I took my husband to the dayroom and turned on the TV to the channel that the game was on PERIOD.

I popped in and out, I was there at breakfast on days that I was going to be out of town part of the day.  I was there for Monday football and the TV shows that he liked at night.  I tried to keep his schedule as close to home as I could.  If I came in and he had food on his clothes, I let them know, that was not acceptable.  Did I worry about retaliation? You bet.  But the fact that I was there so often, they decided that I would go to all their bosses if things weren't taken care of.  If I had a major complaint, I made it but I also made compliments about what was right with the place.

I recently had the task of going back there to call on a dear friend who is there for the duration.  I was greeted by the staff warmly and with hugs.  They had to tell me they missed me and my husband.  One RN said, you always patted us on the back and I miss that.

They have one whale of a job to do.  We have to recognize they are overworked, understaffed and underpaid for the choice they have made.  I'd say 90% of the ones are there because they care.  The ones that don't, don't last too long.

Remember, if your family member is in a nursing home, you have to assume the role of ADVOCATE.  You have to get their attention, that you won't put up with certain things if you find something they are doing offensive.  The non-verbal residents need it more than the ones that can yell and scream at the staff.  Don't be afraid to speak up.  Remember even the director of the nursing home or director of nursing has a boss.  I was lucky enough to be there one time when the facility was inspected by a crew from the state office.  I made it my point to talk with a couple of them.  They both told me, if I wasn't happy with something not to hesitate to call them.  Would you believe that was a great comfort for me?  You bet it was.  I never threatened but I let the staff know how much I enjoyed talking with them.  They got the message really quickly.  I've always laughed and prayed that I didn't want to end up there.  But now that I know I'm truly missed, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad place as I have a daughter that would be equally as demanding as her mother was, all within reason.

Thanks for letting me air my thoughts.  If your family member is abused in a nursing home, where were you?  You can't just warehouse them without an after-thought.



Joanne, thank you for your words of wisdom, you are STILL a Fearless Caregiver.


Gary Barg

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