A deeper view of long term care and paying it forward

  1. Leave it to me to write something sappy . . . lol.

    I really hate it when I get frustrated with long term care. If I go home frustrated and dreading the next day, I just feel so cold hearted and sad, especially around the holidays.
    We get punched, called names, spit on, we lift we roll, we clean up some terrible messes, we're answering one call light after another just to have it ring again five minutes later, we're on our feet all day, we're tired, and it DOES get frustrating.

    This really has been one of "Those" weeks for me . . . and I realized that I need to do a little reflecting, and I did that.

    As frustrating as it gets . . . although it is difficult . . . put yourselves in their shoes.
    Everyone was born equal. They were someones son/daughter, brother/sister, and friend. They have experienced life as we have. Though things were different in their generation, they were all innocent children once.
    They've all been through the "awkward" Stages of life, where they've had to make decisions and learn to grow.
    As time goes on many have started a family, so not only are they someones son/daughter/brother/sister/friend. They are also some ones husband/wife/Boyfriend/girlfriend/mother/father etc.
    As time travels even further they are grandma's and grandpa's with grandchildren who think that they are the greatest in the world.
    For some, the day comes where they cannot care for themselves. Sometimes it is just too much, and they are placed in long term care to be cared for by absolute strangers.
    The most bitter of residents have some one who loves them more than anything in the world or had some one who loved them more than anything in the world who had since passed away.
    Sometimes they are left behind, to never see their family again, or to rarely see them. Sometimes distance plays a factor, other times the family wishes to remember them the way they were, when they were more full of life. Sadly sometimes they are pretty much forgotten about.
    Imagine still knowing in your head who you are, where you are, and knowing that you probably won't see your family anytime soon, but you are unable to do a thing about it!!! That has got to be rough around the holidays. Imagine not even getting one Christmas card. How unloved would that make you feel?
    Long term care is often the last stop of life. Many of them know that the end of their lives are not so far away.

    It is important for all of us to remember, that our residents need compassion, no matter what. Any of us can be put in their shoes someday.

    No matter how compassionate you are, in a long term care facility there may be that ONE or that FEW who are difficult to deal with, and may not get much compassion sent in their direction, or even simply a very lonely person.
    I must say, when the compassion lacks from me, I do feel bad.
    I am a firm believer in paying it forward.

    I have a project for all of you who work in long term care who wish to do something good for some one over the holidays, and I will be doing this too:

    Choose three (or more) people, in your facility, who ; is very difficult, who is very lonely, or one who just needs to know that someone cares.

    Next, think of something for each of these residents that would make a world of difference to them, make them feel like they are on the top of the world, if only for a moment.

    It does not have to be a gift. I am thinking more in the lines of doing something extra for them that they would not expect.
    *Sit down and talk to some one that rarely gets visitors. Choose a time where you are not hurried, even if you choose to spend your lunch break with them, or stay after work.
    *Cancel their tray and bring them a home cooked meal
    *Decorate their room for Christmas
    *Let them go out for that extra cigarette if they are on scheduled smoke times.
    *Take a walk outside with them (weather permitting)
    *Bring some Christmas cookies!
    *Take the time to do their hair with a curling iron, do their nails etc.
    *Give them a Christmas card

    I am sure there are other things you all can think of . . . any other ideas, please post.

    The smallest things can make all the difference in the world to them . . . and remember, what goes around comes around.

    Thank you,

    Amanda
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   emndarmic
    Thank you Amanda for this wonderful heart felt post. Sometimes we do forget the elderly and we should all be going out of our way to make them more comfortable and happy..after all, they paved the way for us to be where we are today.

    Have a Merry Christmas!
    God Bless you
  4. by   fultzymom
    These are all the reasons that I chose to stay in LTC after I got my RN. My people are special and even though I work in the office right now, I still go out on the floors and visit with the patients and talk to them when I am down there.
  5. by   clemmm78
    What a wonderful post. I don't work in LTC now, although I have at times. You are right and thank you for reminding me of that.
  6. by   marjoriemac
    A call bell that rings 5 minutes after you answer it, your lucky most of our residents don't let you get to the door!
  7. by   prmenrs
    Amanda, you are truely one in a million! Thank you.
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    What a beautiful post..........I'm wiping tears as I type this.

    You can come work for me at my ALF any time, sweetie.

    I am glad to know that someone like you will be there for me if I ever need nursing home care.

    Happy Holidays, Mandi!!!!!!
  9. by   jnette
    Lovely post, Mandi.

    So much truth in what you've written. You've got it, girl. You have what it takes to "make just one someone happy" as that old song goes.

    We need more like you in LTC.. although I know there ARE a good many who feel as you do. Good for you and good for them.

    I think your ideas are wonderful, and even though you may not even get a smile from some.. believe me.. in their hearts, they will know and appreciate what you've done.. and it will mean SO much.

    Often it is those who come across as the least approachable, the most "ornery" and hateful, who need this speacil touch more than all the rest.

    These are the most vulnerable, the most fearful, the most rejected.

    Touch the untouchable, dear Mandi.

    You'll never regret it, and your reward will be great. Nothing like that "glow" which comes from knowing you've gone out of your way for one somebody.
    We can't do all we want for all those we want to... but we CAN touch just one somebody at a time. One smile at a time, one touch at a time, one cookie at a time, one backrub at a time.

    If we choose just one kind thing to do for ONE somebody each day, we have accomplished much.

    You've got it, Mandi.
    You've got heart.
    :icon_hug:
  10. by   CT Pixie
    Couldn't have said it any better. Mandi, the world would be a much better place if your love and dedication could be clonned!! Rock on with your wonderful attitude!

    Geriatrics and LTC is one of my loves. (NICU and Hospice are the others). I am looking forward to the day I graduate w/my LPN and can have the honor of being a nurse to our older generation. I don't see LTC as being "beneath" me. It takes a special breed to work this specialty! I honestly did a lot of your suggestions when I worked LTC..but not just at the Holiday season..all the time. I tend to be drawn to the lonely, sad, or bitter ones. I love taking a few minutes to sit and talk/listen to them..or to just sit and place my hand on theirs, give a loving hug or a sincere smile. I often became too close to my residents. Coming in on days off just to spend time with them, bringing in home cooked meals to several of them, taking them for walks outdoors, etc. And my heart would break in pieces when one of my "nannas" or "poppys" passed onto the better place. But then a new resident would move in and the empty place in my heart where the others left would soon be filled with a new "nanna/poppy". But the lost ones always a great memory in my heart. I can still remember residents I cared for 20+ years ago, and many pop into my head at times. I reminise and smile when I think of them all these years later. I only hope that I touched their lives even if only a fraction of how they touched mine.

    I started working LTC as a 16 yr old high school junior and loved each and every day I did it. Now, years later, and years since I worked LTC full time, I miss it.

    But not only are there LTC residents who are alone with no family or friends around..pts in the hospitals also have the same situations..except they live at home alone and don't have the benefit of dedicated, caring LTC nurses to be their family..
  11. by   Simplepleasures
    Oh my gosh, you've got me tearing up. I do so miss Christmas time in LTC, I know it got busy and hectic, but there are those times when you can do that special something and it is so appreciated.I cant work anymore,due to health issues, but I wonder if the management would accept a retired disabled, LPN to come in for maybe meals, feeding, just helping out in ways I could actually do some of the things I wish I had time for when I was a nurse in LTC. THANKYOU, your post helped me make up my mind about volunteering in LTC, I had such a bitter taste in my mouth about LTCs that I thought I would never want to step in one again, but you have helped me see that I could be of some use there.Again, THANKYOU SO MUCH!!
  12. by   joprasklpn
    Quote from ingelein
    Oh my gosh, you've got me tearing up. I do so miss Christmas time in LTC, I know it got busy and hectic, but there are those times when you can do that special something and it is so appreciated.I cant work anymore,due to health issues, but I wonder if the management would accept a retired disabled, LPN to come in for maybe meals, feeding, just helping out in ways I could actually do some of the things I wish I had time for when I was a nurse in LTC. THANKYOU, your post helped me make up my mind about volunteering in LTC, I had such a bitter taste in my mouth about LTCs that I thought I would never want to step in one again, but you have helped me see that I could be of some use there.Again, THANKYOU SO MUCH!!

    So glad to hear this from you. I am sure you will really make someones day!
  13. by   flightnurse2b
    the world needs more people like you, mandi!! it is amazing how we often forget the elderly during the holidays. thank you for making christmas brighter
  14. by   lil' girl
    We have a program called Bridge Builders at our LTC, certain ones of us (don't know who nominated us) are picked to visit a resident or two at least 3 times a week and just sit and talk to them, find out if they have any concerns, and try to resolve it for them. It can be anything and everything. If we can't resolve it we take it to administration and they work on it. The residents really seem to enjoy this time talking to us, and so do we. My little lady is so sweet albeit confused but she still loves to visit, and talk of times past. I just think it is so cool that our facility cares about their residents.

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