Low priorities

  1. Do you give or are you able to give backrubs to patients? I know that no one on my shift has the time.
    Too many patients Too little time. What's last on your list of priorities?
    Last edit by Huganurse on Jul 1, '02
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   Jenny P
    Back rubs are high on my list of priorities for several reasons: I work in CV-ICU and our patients spend so much time in bed; it's an easy way to get a patient to turn so we can listen to their lung sounds; the patients are able to rest much better afterwards (you may be able to get them to sleep better without using drugs); and it still reminds me of why I am a nurse.
    What's at the bottom of my priority list? Emptying waste baskets and linen hampers unless they are overflowing-- I get paid too much to be the housekeeper. I don't think I'm better than the housekeeper; just that that isn't part of my job description (how many times have we been told that?) and these jobs don't require licensure to do them. I'd much rather give up non-nursing tasks than something that requires or allows me to use my nursing skills.
  4. by   mustangsheba
    When I first started nursing, we were required to offer every patient a back rub every night. It was in the care plan. I believe that has been replaced by charting in the computer.
  5. by   Sable's mom
    I try to give back rubs each night for several reasons - first, it DOES help me remember why I became a nurse, 2nd it makes breath sound and skin integrity assessments easier, 3rd it helps the patient sleep, but probably most important - it IS my job. I was taught how to do them in school and believe that each patient deserves my best.

    PS I'm a 23 year veteran of the night shift, so I have seen the difference it can make.
  6. by   SharonH, RN
    Well this is shocking, I didn't know that there were nurses anywhere in America who had time to give a back rub. In 10 years I have never given a back rub and I don't intend to. If we covered it in nursing school I must have been absent but my girlfriend says she thinks we did very briefly but she's not sure. I'm too busy filling the servant role anyway to get to the masseuse thing anyway.
  7. by   Jenny P
    Lindaisanurse, I'm a night nurse also, maybe that is why you and I both have back rubs high on our priority lists: we DO see what a difference they can make in how well the patient is able to rest!
    SharonMH31, I feel bad for you that you don't have time to give back rubs; if you can get your patient to relax (and they usually do with a good back rub), your shift goes so much better than if all of your patients are tense or anxious.
    Mustangsheba, don't you remember how good it felt to give the patients back rubs? To feel those tense shoulder and back muscles relax, and the patient always told you how good it felt? Patients often told you some intimate detail that may be important in their plan of care (such as: "no one has touched me since my husband died 3 years ago; it feels so nice to have a back rub again").
  8. by   Ted
    I'm another night nurse and I always offer the patient an opportunity for a back rub. More often than not the patient accepts the back rub. The usual comments are: "That feels good" "It helps me sleep" "It hurts there" (opps, too hard), and "Thanks".

    To be honest, I don't remember when the "Back rub" portion of the nursing education was taught. I once, however, dated a physical therapist . . . who gave great back rubs!



    Cheers,

    Ted Fiebke
  9. by   MollyJ
    It's been a while since I was a bedside nurse, but low priority for me was neatening the bedside table and the over bed table and the room in general. But this was SO important to many of the nurses that followed me that I adapted and now when I walk into hospital room that looks cluttered, it causes one of those niggling itches.

    Back rubs were not my #1 priority but I felt guilty when I didn't get them in because laying in bed all days makes peoples backs tired. I think it is an "extra" you can do that really makes people feel cared for and can reduce the need for pain/sleep meds. When I was doing bedside nursing "pm care" included oral care, a back rub and anything else it took to get the patient ready for bed.

    SharonM, back rubs are literally "serving" people, but back rubs/massages are a LOW TECH way to care for people and back rubs have some documented therapeutic benefits. Most patients will gladly take a 10 minute or even longer back rub--who of us here would refuse that offer--but even a minute or two is beneficial. Once you start massaging people, you can literally feel the tension in their back and you can feel it attenuate with massage and that is pretty tangible.

    I agree with the poster that said trash cans or hampers were a low priority unless they overflowed.

    I'm pained to admit it, but one of the hardest tasks for me to prioritize was feeding elderly people. Done right, it is a time consuming AND painstaking task, and it comes at an extremely busy part of the day. If they had blush symbol here, I'd use it.
  10. by   SharonH, RN
    Well it's funny what gets to some people. I work with nurses who have a fit if they have to put patients on a bedpan but it doesn't bother me because that's a necessity and would you want to wait? I don't think so. And neat rooms are also my thing, I hate to see the rooms messed up, the beds not neat but back rubs no way, not gonna happen. My thing is if they are comfortable in a clean, dry bed, and they have been fed and are pain-free then leave them alone and they'll rest. Some of my co-workers keep their patients riled up and I have found those patients are the ones who are on the call light constantly, unable to be comfortable, unable to rest. I'm sorry if that sounds heartless but I perform many other comfort measures for my patients.
  11. by   fergus51
    We recently had an OT ban here and the gyne floor where I do some casual shifts was half empty, but still had the same staffing levels. One patient had been on bedrest for weeks and could only turn on her side for short periods. Can you imagine how sore her back was? I gave her a backrub and put on some lotion as well as using some heating pads and she was so appreciative. I was all happy with myself until she told me that I wa the first person to have done that for her (by the shape her skin was in I believe it). The moral of the story, a lot of nurses wouldn't give a patient a bakrub even if they have time. They'd rather sit in the nurses station gossiping. That bug me a lot. It's one thing if you're busy, but if you're not you should be doing something for your patients and a backrub is a wonderful thing.
  12. by   Mijourney
    Hi. I agree that we should give backrubs as well as listening activities a much higher priority than they get. Making sure that the patient's immediate environment is not cluttered is important for aesthetic and even safety reasons. But isn't the much of the problem in attending to low tech needs usually inadequate staffing? It is wearisome to see that CEOs, managers or what have you, even physicians continually overlook what's really important to the patient and family for what suits them until they're the recipient of the care.

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