I'm hoping I've found the right area to post my concern, as last year I was terminated after 4 years of employment as a caregiver. While working at a particular agency within Tennessee, I primarily worked with MRDD clients. I had every intention of obtaining my CNA, until I made a regrettable mistake. After working two consecutive 12 hour shifts in a weekend, I received a call shortly before I was supposed to arrive at work from my co-worker who stated he was departing for the evening. Being that the client within our care was higher functioning than most, allowed for him to be alone for reasonable periods at a time (45 minutes). Some employees would use this window of time as an opportunity to leave their shift early, with the understanding that they were ultimately held responsible for the clients safety, and a follow-up call to assure relief staff had arrived was highly advisable.
Being worn out that weekend, no sooner than I hung up the phone, I literally passed out for the next 6 hours. All kinds of things raced through my mind when I awoke. Why hadn't I received a follow-up call, if at the very least from my supervisor? Nothing really registered, or made sense right away, as I quickly rushed to the clients home, who was just a few miles away. Upon arrival, I found him asleep on the living room couch to my relief. He was awakened and assured of his safety. Everything had been thrown off in terms of his scheduled medications that were to be taken, but they were administered.
The entire agency was under scrutiny that particular week, as state investigators were making their rounds. I conferred with my immediate supervisor what was the best action to take. He reasoned that we would all be placed under investigation should I go forward for something we were all guilty of, and that it was best to let things "cool off". At first I protested, because all of these events took place on my shift, and I wanted to present my side. He asked me to give him the remainder of the day, to see if there was a way to mitigate things. By the end of the day, I received a call from him, and was informed I'd been placed on suspension, and that an investigation was under way. Nothing I can say here, would demonstrate the level of panic, frustration, and anger I had. There was nothing I could do. I met with state investigators later that week, and presented a signed documentation of events as I recalled them. A week after that, I was sent a letter informing me that the claim of neglect had been substantiated, and that termination was effective immediately without eligibility for rehire.
The letter spoke of no recourse for appeal, just "you're fired". Needless to say, every single agency I've applied to ever since wouldn't give me the time of day, even though I am not listed on any public abuse registry that I am aware of. Filing for unemployment, I later learned this agency had alleged charges of abuse in the care of one of their clients from an incident that had happened THREE years prior. Having only been with this particular agency 4 months, I was assigned to a client that normally had a 2 to 1 ratio at all times. Assigning me to this client overnight, the agency decided to compromise by letting me work alone with him. One morning, the client awoke to find he was out of milk for his cereal and became enraged. There wasn't much I could do to reason with the client, but things escalated when the client punched his arm through a plate glass living room window. Stunned, and in utter shock, I watched as he prepared to ram his hand through the glass again. I rushed at this 300lb man and did the best I could to restrain him, but fell to the floor as a result of his size, which resulted in what is called a "Take Down".
At this point, I had no clear concept of time, as the client began clawing at my face. I became concerned obviously for my safety, as well as the clients, but felt I could not allow him to move until the situation was controlled. No sooner than i released his arms, he attempted to claw my face again. Restraint was applied, the client quickly responded in a positive affirmation, and was allowed to resume as he wanted. The client apologized, began cleaning up the glass on his own as if nothing ever happened. This should have been my first warning to consider other areas of work within health care, but at the time nursing wasn't a consideration. Although I had never been officially reprimanded, or given corrective training, this incident was considered abusive by the agency I'd worked at for 4 years, and yet they allowed me to work with that same client for 3 years!
The inherent protections offered at all levels of nursing, is that one is allowed due process to defend, or appeal judgments concerning future practice. Apparently what is taking place among care giving agencies, is that databases are being created for "substantiated" cases of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or staff misconduct. The road towards appealing these decisions isn't as clear compared to the nursing profession. Placement within this database almost certainly guarantees not only effective blacklisting, but hindrances to possible employment at any stage as a future candidate for nursing because of contractual liability concerns involving state funding., and other types of funding. One employee that I'm aware of that same agency is just now completing their LPN training. However, they are terrified of the implication of an investigation that took place some time ago for "substatiated verbal abuse" of a client. Should such a claim bar a candidate for nursing from finding suitable employment?
I plan on going through with my CNA training this fall, as the instructors have verified that I am not listed on any database for abuse, or neglect based on their criteria. Going forward I'm hoping I'm making the right decision, as I've racked my brain for the last year trying to figure out a way through this. The only reason I made an effort to pursue a nursing career despite my circumstances, is because of an RN I know in a different state who went through the same things I have. If anyone believes I should have reason to second guess my decision, please advise. Thank you.