It Goes Both Ways
As nurses in LTC facilities, we care for the residents in many ways. Beyond that, we care about them. But is the caring really one sided? Or do our residents care about us too? We are important to our residents, not just for what we do for them as nurses. In many cases, they see us more than their own families. We're not just that person who passes out medications, we are people they care about. Perhaps...it goes both ways.Having worked in long term care for some time, first as a CNA, now as a nurse, I know how important touch is to the residents. A hug, a hand on the back or shoulder, even a quick squeeze of the hand lets residents know that they are not alone, that someone cares.
Residents in long term care often suffer from lack of meaningful physical contact. Often, the only touch they experience is during personal care, which by necessity is conducted professionally. Knowing this, at work I frequently touch residents on the back, shoulder, arm, hand, and yes, even a hug sometimes. I've seen this kind of touch cheer, comfort, encourage, and calm.
With all the emphasis on what we do for the residents, we tend to think about what we can do for them. How touch can benefit them. But what about the residents, what they can do for us?
Not that we should go to work expecting the residents to do things for us. But the residents do have something to offer. They are not “done,” their meaning in life did not end when moved into the nursing home.
One of my residents showed me that they do still have something to offer, and sometimes, I'm the one who needs the benefits of touch.
You know how busy and stressful it can be working in LTC. Some days go pretty smoothly, but others are filled with interruptions in the form of family members with questions or concerns, calls to or from doctors, orders to transcribe, requests for PRN medications, falls, skin tears, changes in condition, critical lab values and on and on.
I was having one of “those days,”not the worst, but stressful and terribly busy. Amidst the running to and fro, trying to get everything done and everyone taken care of, I passed Viola (name has been changed) in the hall. Viola was one of those residents who always has a smile and a kind word. She always had a positive attitude, even when facing a wound that didn't want to heal.
Viola rarely asked for PRN medications, so I was surprised and bit concerned when she stopped me in the hall. Instead of asking for something though, she said “Can I give you a hug?”
I quickly replied, “Of course!” and bent down to hug her in her wheelchair.
As we hugged, she said “I know your job is hard, but you're a great nurse. I want you to know that.”
I walked away from that brief encounter with a lighter step and a new perspective. It had never occurred to me that a resident would give me encouragement. Viola helped me see that we are important to our residents, not just for what we do for them as nurses. In many cases, they see us more than their own families. We're not just that person who passes out medications, we are people they care about.
Sometimes, I'm the one who needs a hug.Last edit by tnbutterfly on Aug 21, '14
Kittypower123 has '4' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Hospice'. From 'Houston, TX, US'; Joined Feb '09; Posts: 121; Likes: 247.5Jul 16, '12 by Isitpossiblejust the other night, i went to give my 91 yr old pt her medications... asked how she was feeling and got the standard "im okay"...but she looked a little down so i just hugged her... "that was so beautiful, thank you" she said!! it made me realize how little physical contact our residents receive!! and i walked away feeling good but a little sad too...7Jul 16, '12 by dianne777RNWow, what a wonderful story! I am a new grad RN and have an interview tommorow in an LTC. Most have implied that it is an inferior job. This really upsets me as I see nursing not as getting into something "prestigious", I got into nursing because people, all people, need caring. Sorry, don't mean to ramble. I am excited about the opportunity to work with the elderly. Wish me luck on the interview! Thanks2Jul 16, '12 by jrwestQuote from dianne777RNI want to let you know that LTC is not an inferior job- it's the suits and owners who make the job hardly bearable. If only we could have the time in the day to spend with the residents like you would want.Most have implied that it is an inferior job.
Good luck on your interview.
as on- topic of the subject, it is these moments when you realize that some ( but not many ) pts aren't jerks, and are actually considerate human beings that we should be honored to take care of.4Jul 17, '12 by zieglarfI'm a dude - so I'm not going to be hugging anyone.
However I do place a hand on the upper back/shoulders of the residents sometimes - a 'hey buddy' sort of thing. Some of the men like to shake hands - it's respect.2Jul 17, '12 by MaremmaThis is a wonderful article! Thanks for posting it.
zieglarf- What does being male have to do with hugging or not hugging patients? Compassion can flow from both females and males. Grandma can be comforted by a son's or grandson's hug as much as a daughter's or grand daughter's you know?2Jul 17, '12 by HM-8404Quote from MaremmaBecause males in the medical profession have to be careful about contact with patients, especially female patients. We are aware that we are always just a misunderstanding away from a lawsuit, or termination.This is a wonderful article! Thanks for posting it.
zieglarf- What does being male have to do with hugging or not hugging patients? Compassion can flow from both females and males. Grandma can be comforted by a son's or grandson's hug as much as a daughter's or grand daughter's you know?