Elderly coworkers becoming a burden.

  1. 1
    I work on a busy telemetry unit. We have an RN on night shift that is in her 70s and while she is the nicest, sweet old lady, with a great sense of humor, when it comes to nursing, ITS TIME TO RETIRE GRANDMA. The saddest thing about this situation is that she genuinely cares about her patients, she talks kindly to them and really wants to help, unfortunately she looks like she should BE the patient, not caring for one. We recently (over a year ago) switched to a new computer system and her computer skills were poor to begin with. She can't enter simple orders, if she looks away from the cursor when scrolling she steers the mouse off that direction and doesnt understand why the screen isn't moving. If there is an alert or warning on a med when she is trying to administer it that patient had better just forget about it. She cries in front of patients when she gets flustered, she cries on the phone with doctors when she is flustered. The worst is when she sits at her computer at the nurses station for hours muttering in a high pitched whine to herself. She complains to herself about not knowing what is going on with the computer. We have all started ignoring her because she wont ask for help, its like she is just hinting out loud hoping for someone to come to her rescue. We used to help her but its to the point now we all want to run and duck for cover. Even when you show her things she is already so flustered at that point its like the information bounces right off. You don't want to show her, you just want to jerk the keyboard out of the way and fix it for her and go on about your day. If we didn't work in the profession we did it might be easier to accomodate her but we are already so busy, so short staffed, and already taking care of a bunch of other helpless geriatrics, its frustrating to have to carry the burden of another employee (elderly or not). She also does things old school ways sometimes and then when newer staff members do them different the patients complain or are concerned about their care. For example, if a patient is giving her a hard time about smoking she will facilitate a smoke break for them just to avoid the confrontation. If the next shift doesn't do that the patient obviously thinks 1 of the 2 is a bad nurse or not qualified and dislikes being jerked around.

    Whats more frustrating is the things she gets exempt from because she doesn't do them correctly. We prep patients for bypass surgeries and the whole process is lenghty, time consuming and requires a lot of paperwork, not to mention inserting 2 gigantic IVs, having extra tubing and equipment ready to go with the patient, and preparing the chart, etc etc. She consistently forgot things or didn't do things correctly and the CVOR complained on her so much that eventually when she got a patient assignment that included a CABG prep, she stated our manager said she isnt to take them anymore because she never does them right. HOW IS THAT FAIR? You make the same amount of money, if not more (since you came with the building when it was built), but you arent expected to do the same tasks? In addition the supervisors are annoyed with her so if she is scheduled and someone is to be put on call or needs to leave during the shift because the census drops--its always her because they don't want to put up with her.


    I have had patients wake up in the middle of the night and see her in the hall and turn on their light to ask me if they are dreaming or if she is real because of the way she looks. She frightens some of them (long, white ponytail, bright blue eyeshadow). Also, she falls asleep, almost to the point of us thinking she might be narcoleptic. She used to do it frequently when we taped report, less so now that we do face to face, but she has even fallen asleep at the desk in the middle of that. I feel bad because as I said, she is nice and if she were capable she would help you with anything, but a lot of us are starting to think she might not be safe anymore. The issue also is with the hospital which is severly short staffed and just needs a warm body to show up, for which she qualifies.

    Anyone else have slow and/or elderly employees they are concerned about/for? Let's hear it.
    lindarn likes this.
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  3. 63 Comments so far...

  4. 7
    Have you all brought your concerns up with management?
    Marshall1, nrsang97, anotherone, and 4 others like this.
  5. 26
    I am having a hard time believing some aspects of this post.

    Honestly, the repeated need to keep mentioning the advanced age of this supposed nurse in conjunction with 'coming with the building' or 'looking like she should be a patient' discredits your intentions.

    It sounds like age baiting which seems to be a pass time lately.

    If a nurse is functioning as ineptly as you are presenting. She needs to be brought to management's attention.
    jimmyphx74, elprup, Marshall1, and 23 others like this.
  6. 2
    Quote from Ruas61
    I am having a hard time believing some aspects of this post.

    Honestly, the repeated need to keep mentioning the advanced age of this supposed nurse in conjunction with 'coming with the building' or 'looking like she should be a patient' discredits your intentions.

    It sounds like age baiting which seems to be a pass time lately.

    If a nurse is functioning as ineptly as you are presenting. She needs to be brought to management's attention.


    You can believe what you want but it's all the truth. And idk anything about age baiting, it's just the jokes we make at the hospital where I work and mean til add an anecdotal aspect to the story as to encourage others to do the same.




    And as for management, as I've said. They are aware of the issues considering they are the ones that told her not to take CABG preps. They need a warm body to say there is an RN on the floor.
    Fiona59 and anotherone like this.
  7. 52
    I think that if management was as fed up with her they would do something about it. I think patience and kindness is a virtue.

    I think she gets tearful and upset because she hears her fellow nurses making unkind statements about her and poking fun of her...
    it's just the jokes we make at the hospital where I work and mean til add an anecdotal aspect to the story as to encourage others to do the same.
    ....in some circles that is called bullying or lateral violence. I think as much as pregnant women get allowances to avoid infectious diseases and other patient assignments due to pregnancy...... that if this nurse really isn't able to or doesn't like to care for the open hearts.....allowances can be made for her by her fellow workers. Turnabout is fair play

    If you were a new grad and she did this to you....
    You don't want to show her, you just want to jerk the keyboard out of the way and fix it for her and go on about your day
    she would be an old bat eating her young.

    You don't know what personal burdens she has that forces her to work. Maybe she just loves to be around her peers and patients. Many nurses that were supposed to retire can't because when the market crashed we lost half if not all of our retirement and since hospitals don't provide pensions....we can't retire as there is nothing left to retire on.

    She also does things old school ways sometimes and then when newer staff members do them different the patients complain or are concerned about their care. For example, if a patient is giving her a hard time about smoking she will facilitate a smoke break for them just to avoid the confrontation.
    Back in the day we tried to help patients and go that extra mile....it is what we did. It is what she still should do. We did NOT try to push our personal biases down our patients throats. If a simple cigarette helps defuse a situation it beats using the energy, and time, causing the patient to get angry and upset and having to call the MD, negotiate with the patient medicate the patient....all which is very time consuming.

    I don't know your patient nurse ratio on night but I an sure you all would like to adsorb her 6 or 7 patients in addition to your load. I think poking fun at her appearance
    dreaming or if she is real because of the way she looks. She frightens some of them (long, white ponytail, bright blue eyeshadow).
    because if you don't think she hears you...guess again.

    I think your floor needs some self reflection and your supervisors need to exercise more discretion with their personal opinions...like shutting their mouths.....for it doesn't belong being vented to the staff as it adds fuel to the fire and does nothing to promote teamwork.

    Matt. 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

    Remember ........every day you age so...... There but for the Grace of God go I
    .
    OCNRN63, Ruby Vee, Irish_Mist, and 49 others like this.
  8. 25
    Quote from Esme12
    I think that if management was as fed up with her they would do something about it. I think patience and kindness is a virtue.

    I think she gets tearful and upset because she hears her fellow nurses making unkind statements about her and poking fun of her.......in some circles that is called bullying or lateral violence. I think as much as pregnant women get allowances to avoid infectious diseases and other patient assignments due to pregnancy...... that if this nurse really isn't able to or doesn't like to care for the open hearts.....allowances can be made for her by her fellow workers. Turnabout is fair play

    If you were a new grad and she did this to you....she would be an old bat eating her young.

    You don't know what personal burdens she has that forces her to work. Maybe she just loves to be around her peers and patients. Many nurses that were supposed to retire can't because when the market crashed we lost half if not all of our retirement and since hospitals don't provide pensions....we can't retire as there is nothing left to retire on.

    Back in the day we tried to help patients and go that extra mile....it is what we did. It is what she still should do. We did NOT try to push our personal biases down our patients throats. If a simple cigarette helps defuse a situation it beats using the energy, and time, causing the patient to get angry and upset and having to call the MD, negotiate with the patient medicate the patient....all which is very time consuming.

    I don't know your patient nurse ratio on night but I an sure you all would like to adsorb her 6 or 7 patients in addition to your load. I think poking fun at her appearance because if you don't think she hears you...guess again.

    I think your floor needs some self reflection and your supervisors need to exercise more discretion with their personal opinions...like shutting their mouths.....for it doesn't belong being vented to the staff as it adds fuel to the fire and does nothing to promote teamwork.

    Matt. 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

    Remember ........every day you age so...... There but for the Grace of God go I.
    I love your post Esme, your right on the money!

    I've worked with an RN who was in her mid/late 70s and she was incredible. The patients weren't "afraid" of the way she looked (you sound quite ageist OP btw) she was able to relate to them and make them feel so safe. Plus she was OLD SCHOOL with some of her practices but the patients loved her for them!

    My point is, I think if your work was really worried, management would have done more then "stop her from doing CABG preps".

    and I agree I think she's crying because she picks up that the rest of the staff are making fun of her. This story is really upsetting for me, she obviously loves her work and the patients and she's being laughed at by her co workers. I want to give her a hug and I don't even know her!

    And I would rather an old school nurse look after me and my family over the new style of nurses that the western world produces at present any day.
    rubato, pebbles049, mikkie1317, and 22 others like this.
  9. 4
    Ok people, I agree I posted this when I was annoyed in the heat of the moment and came off a little more harsh than I meant too. But let me clarify some things. First, the smoking thing. Our campus has a strict NO SMOKING policy so helpful or not, it poses a major issue when a nurse escorts a patient off the property to ha e a cigarette. They wander over with IV poles, PCA pumps, all that jazz, across a busy street. If that patient gets hit by a car and dies I'm responsible for them, so in terms of going that extra mile, not thanks. No cigarette with worth my license. Next, I do know why she is still working, like someone up there mentioned, she is having difficult retiring because of financial issues. That doesn't make it any less of an issue when I'm trying to care for my patients and have to stop and put out a fire for her. We all have problems. In terms of the bullying and lateral violence, none of us flat out look her in the face and call her old or names. It's just one of those things that comes up when we are in the parking lot on the way out like "man tonight was rough" and mention briefly that she was a contributing factor. It's not like we kick our feet up at the desk and have a hate fest at her expense. As far as wanting to jerk the keyboard from her and fix the computer, that has never actually happened. When we switched to this computer system I was actually the person that came in an extra night to shadow her the entire shift to try to guide her computer troubles but let me tell ya, a person can only take so much. All of the above mentioned was true accounts of the situation, but some of the rhetoric may have been a little more scathing than necessary. But the same people that are telling me not to "judge" are judging me for feeling like I do. I can't help if some people work with older nurses who are so incredie, some aren't and that's just the facts! I'm not saying I've never made a mistake. And in reference to people thinking management wouldn't allow this if they knew it was going on, our hospital is kind of falling apart and just treading water and I couldn't make you believe or understand the crazy stuff that goes on there, this being the least of them. More importantly, this was a post just to rant and see if anyone else had ever experienced the same issues or might have been feeling a little grouchy too. A way to vent instead of taking it out on a co-worker who I know is kind and loves her patients and her job, but might be in the way time to time. Geeze people!
    Fiona59, Stcroix, anotherone, and 1 other like this.
  10. 8
    So, you think it's a legit practice to take a COPD patient out to smoke? Or cardiac patients when smoking is a major contributing factor for their heart disease in the first place? You're right, negotiating a nicotine patch is wayyy more time consuming. It's easier just to let them smoke. Wouldn't want to bother with having to educate them on smoking cessation or anything like that. Plus that might be awful biased, shoving my non smoking lifestyle down their throat.
  11. 26
    I think the OP is new here and did not express her problem/views in a "politically correct" way ... but I think she raises a valid point. She and her colleagues may be dealing with a serious situation in which patients can be harmed. As a profession, we need to develop fair, compassionate ways of dealing with nurses who, because of age or illness or whatever, can no longer meet an acceptable standard of performance.

    Many of us will face this issue in our careers -- both as we become less able with advancing age, and as we see it in our colleagues. Just because we were once at the peak of our abilities and able to leap tall buidlings in a single bound does not mean we will always be so capable. How can best handle that when it starts happening to us? How can we help our colleagues cope with those changes and know when it is time to move on to another stage of life? Do we wait until a patient is seriously harmed?

    Let's stop bashing the OP for her lack of grace in bringing up the topic ... and start addressing the topic itself. It is a serious one that is expected to become more common as the large number of baby boomers in the workforce start becoming elderly. We can't ignore the reality of it.
  12. 16
    Hmmmmm....sounds like ageism and ignorance. personally I am sick of working with a bunch of 20 something "nurses" that sit on their i- phones the entire shift, hide until management is around and ignore the patients...oh yeah and often refuse to do the "dirty work." To quote a great line from "casino"-"you better check your loop..."
    Ruby Vee, grandpaj, 1Dreamer, and 13 others like this.


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