Nurses aren't maids!

  1. 9 I'm sorry. I really, really need to vent. I work for a pediatric private duty nursing agency, and I'm an RN. This is what I wish I could say to my new patient's mom: Why the heck would you ask your child's new night nurse to do her laundry?! When the hell did they put laundry questions on the NCLEX? Oh, yeah, they DIDN'T because NURSES AREN'T MAIDS! I'm not your kid's nanny, I'm a healthcare PROFESSIONAL - just like a physician. You wouldn't ask your pediatrician to do your kid's laundry, so you better not ask the nurse to do it, either! It's not 1950, anymore, Sparky!

    Of course, I didn't say that. To be nice, I folded the kid's clothes tonight, but then I sent off an email to the clinical director at the agency complaining profusely about this insulting request. I mean, seriously! Where do people get the brass testicles to ask a nurse to do a maid's job?

    Why do people automatically assume when they get private duty nursing covered by the state or their insurance that whoever is paying for it also thinks it's cool to provide you with housekeeping services? Isn't that insurance fraud? THe state doesn't want to pay for someone to do your kid's laundry. You can't ask me to do that! Not only is it DEGRADING to ask a healthcare professional to do laundry, it must be abuse of services. I hope to God above that no one at my agency told this woman that nurses do chores, because I will go all the way to the top of national corporate management if someone did. This better be an unfortunate misunderstanding on my patient's mom's part as to what nurses do and DO NOT do.

    Has anyone else had to deal with this? I had one other patient's mom ask me if that was something we do, and she totally apologized for asking when I politely told her no. This new patient's mom guided me to the laundry room to make sure I understood how the machines work because she is assuming it's totally in my job description to do laundry. She didn't even ask, she just started out with "when you do her laundry..." Excuse me?! I clean the kid and his or her medical equipment. Nothing else! I'm not a home health aide (whose job it would possibly be). It's just not *my* job to do household chores!

    OK, vent over. I feel a little better. Thanks for letting me vent.
  2. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page

    About AnaCatRN

    From 'Chicago, IL'; Joined Apr '10; Posts: 111; Likes: 174.

    132 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  TheCommuter profile page
    16
    Perhaps you should have offered a very friendly clarification: "I have not been hired, recruited, or trained to provide laundering services. However, I am very competent and capable of handling any healthcare issues that may arise with your child."
  4. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page
    0
    Quote from TheCommuter
    Perhaps you should have offered a very friendly clarification: "I have not been hired, recruited, or trained to provide laundering services. However, I am very competent and capable of handling any healthcare issues that may arise with your child."
    I know, in hind sight, I wish I had done that. I was just so shocked by the whole encounter that I froze and couldn't say anything. If my agency doesn't intervene tomorrow, I will talk to her myself when I've calmed down.
  5. Visit  TheCommuter profile page
    4
    Quote from AnaCatRN
    If my agency doesn't intervene tomorrow, I will talk to her myself when I've calmed down.
    I certainly hope that your agency intervenes swiftly. I hope that they are not into the new trend of 'customer service' so deeply that they would overlook something of this nature.
  6. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page
    9
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I certainly hope that your agency intervenes swiftly. I hope that they are not into the new trend of 'customer service' so deeply that they would overlook something of this nature.
    I was assured by someone at the national corporate office when I first took the job that corporate doesn't tolerate local offices expecting nurses to do household chores, and to report it to them if I am asked to. If the agency tells me tomorrow that they told her I would be doing laundry, I will report the office to corporate.

    I'm tired of hearing about customer service! Someone has to say enough is enough with the customer service garbage. They're PATIENTS, not customers! And how can they be all about customer service when the state/Medicaid is paying the bill? Having a kid who needs private duty nursing they can't afford without government assistance does not equal winning the lottery and getting free maid service. I'm actually really here so mom has the free time so she can work, sleep, and do her own housework. Sigh...
  7. Visit  LoveMyBugs profile page
    4
    I did pedatric home health for awhile too and it depends on the company and the parents.
    I had 2 cases that I worked, one was great all that she asked other then care for her child was to help organize the medical supplies, as she hadn't had help in years and her house refeclted it, as I was there more, the house became cleaner and cleaner as mom now had the time.
    The other one there was a huge language barrier and my company does advertise housekeeping services when you have a compainion, but I am a nurse and was there to provide medical care to her child, but she too wanted me to fold the laundry and finish the loads of laundry and the dished, how can I keep an eye/ear out for your child if you want me in the kitchen doing the dishes!?!? Didn't stay on that case for very long.
  8. Visit  Mike A. Fungin RN profile page
    4
    Quote from AnaCatRN
    Of course, I didn't say that. To be nice, I folded the kid's clothes tonight, but then I sent off an email to the clinical director at the agency complaining profusely about this insulting request.
    Quote from AnaCatRN
    If my agency doesn't intervene tomorrow, I will talk to her myself when I've calmed down.
    I understand from your second post that when this happened maybe you didn't trust yourself to address the issue directly. That was probably a good idea if you were in danger of losing your temper, but there's a happy medium between losing it and your approach.

    Being passive aggressive isn't likely to help you build a good rapport with these clients. How do you think the patient's mother is going to feel when she gets blindsided with this by your agency? Unless you left some details out for us then as far as she knows you folded the clothes, it's part of your job, and everything is fine.

    Consider also that this might give your clinical director the impression that you're unwilling or unable to resolve minor conflicts on your own. If I were in his/her shoes as a manager then my first question would be whether or not you spoke with the client already and what was the outcome. I hope they give you that chance, because it's not too late.
  9. Visit  lulu67 profile page
    3
    Hello,
    I'm an LVN not an RN ..but I thought of replying to your thread....I couldn't agree more!
    Here in Idaho, however, we do their laundry or dishes because it is an item that belongs to the pt. and needs tending to(per my manager). I have complained but to no avail. They said it is my responsibility- especially if the client's clothing is saturated with body fluids. I too have worked with home health peds --and in my most recent case..the mom put me to the laundry task immediately. I was offended as well, but realized that my pt wasn't able to do it and the mom wouldn't...so ergo..it seems to have fallen to me? I was very appalled. ..but i did it anyway...the kid(16yo) had no support of any kind really.(so I felt it would help her self esteem to have clean clothes for school and smell like fresh laundry instead of urine) I only did HER laundry and no other family members laundry.
    However, after that..the mom directed me to cleaning out her closet! I said "no, sorry, but I have charting and other things to do. I was able to redirect that instance but otherwise we do have to do their laundry and dishes here in Idaho anyway. I am curious how it turns out for you.
    I do not agree with us being maids as well as health care professionals at all!
    Last edit by lulu67 on May 17, '11
  10. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page
    6
    Quote from Mike A. Fungin RN
    I understand from your second post that when this happened maybe you didn't trust yourself to address the issue directly. That was probably a good idea if you were in danger of losing your temper, but there's a happy medium between losing it and your approach.

    Being passive aggressive isn't likely to help you build a good rapport with these clients. How do you think the patient's mother is going to feel when she gets blindsided with this by your agency? Unless you left some details out for us then as far as she knows you folded the clothes, it's part of your job, and everything is fine.

    Consider also that this might give your clinical director the impression that you're unwilling or unable to resolve minor conflicts on your own. If I were in his/her shoes as a manager then my first question would be whether or not you spoke with the client already and what was the outcome. I hope they give you that chance, because it's not too late.
    I kind of understand what you're saying, but she did take a condescending tone about it, so I had to keep my mouth shut to avoid getting angry with her. She won't be blindsided if the agency tells her politely. I was blindsided by the announcement that I will be doing the laundry, and here's how the washer works. Why is that ok? Why doesn't the mom have to worry about building a good rapport with me? Management needs to do something to earn their pay. It can't be up to the nurses to fight every battle, especially if someone in management thinks they're being funny and is now offering housekeeping services. They can deal with the obnoxious and ridiculous fantasies of parents who think the state paying for private duty nursing includes free housekeeping services on the tax payers' dime. I'm not ok with customer service in healthcare. It's total bull hockey. So, yes, that may be passive aggressive, but that's how I roll after having been taken advantage of so many times before. I'm not going to be the one to address this if the office did indeed say we now do laundry, because they can't do that, so they will have to retract that statement. I'm not getting guilted into doing housework for my patients, and believe me, some people in the office have noticed I can be guilted into things, so I have to protect myself! They need to take responsibility for any misleading promises they made to my patient's parents. That's not a minor conflict that I need to prove I can deal with, it's a major problem they have to deal with if they aren't able to accurately convey to patients' parents what services are actually offered. I'm not going to be held responsible for explaining services. My lower-than-average nursing pay only covers my doing professional nursing. I don't get paid enough to do administration and public relations, too.
  11. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page
    0
    Quote from LoveMyBugs
    I did pedatric home health for awhile too and it depends on the company and the parents.
    I had 2 cases that I worked, one was great all that she asked other then care for her child was to help organize the medical supplies, as she hadn't had help in years and her house refeclted it, as I was there more, the house became cleaner and cleaner as mom now had the time.
    The other one there was a huge language barrier and my company does advertise housekeeping services when you have a compainion, but I am a nurse and was there to provide medical care to her child, but she too wanted me to fold the laundry and finish the loads of laundry and the dished, how can I keep an eye/ear out for your child if you want me in the kitchen doing the dishes!?!? Didn't stay on that case for very long.
    Organizing medical supplies is a reasonable request, I think. I wouldn't complain about doing that. I've read my company's info on the web and what they gave the parents. Nowhere does it offer housekeeping. I really don't know where she got that idea from. If my office thinks I'm doing this, I'll be looking for a new job. You're right, you can't be a nurse and pay attention to the kid if you're doing housework, which is why we exist! So mom can do her housework! D'oh!
  12. Visit  nursel56 profile page
    2
    It's unfortunately a game parents will play - and I can assure you there are many posts here detailing families wanting the nurse to clean the bathrooms, do the family dishes, and/or babysit for the other siblings.

    Many of them have the belief that since it's 1:1 care you have a "cushy" job and if there are HH aides in the house who do housework they will compare you to them and what hard workers they are while "nurses just sit around". They have no grasp at all what critical thinking or assessment skills are.

    Even with a family I got along wonderfully with for years - muttered something under his breath about nurses, and I said to myself "no more". I'm a human being, too - and when I can't afford the insurance I pay taxes so you can get for free. No. Not happening anymore. I felt myself getting very close to the edge of losing it with them.

    However, I don't feel this falls in line with the "customer service" trend exactly, but what happens is sometimes the agencies side with the families if the families threaten to change agencies. My agencies did not have that type of dysfunction going on, but it is not all that unusual from what I can tell.

    I wash the dishes I use for the patient's meals, the DME and associated tubings and supplies, restock suction catheters or other medical supplies the patient uses, and sometimes put a stained sheet to soak but that was as a favor for the daytime caregiver and not something I felt obligated to do.

    I certainly have felt the same frustration! Hope it works out for you.
    LaRN and Mrs. SnowStormRN like this.
  13. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page
    0
    Quote from lulu67
    Hello,
    I'm an LVN not an RN ..but I thought of replying to your thread....I couldn't agree more!
    Here in Idaho, however, we do their laundry or dishes because it is an item that belongs to the pt. and needs tending to(per my manager). I have complained but to no avail. They said it is my responsibility- especially if the client's clothing is saturated with body fluids. I too have worked with home health peds --and in my most recent case..the mom put me to the laundry task immediately. I was offended as well, but realized that my pt wasn't able to do it and the mom wouldn't...so ergo..it seems to have fallen to me? I was very appalled. ..but i did it anyway...the kid(16yo) had no support of any kind really.(so I felt it would help her self esteem to have clean clothes for school and smell like fresh laundry instead of urine) I only did HER laundry and no other family members laundry.
    However, after that..the mom directed me to cleaning out her closet! I said "no, sorry, but I have charting and other things to do. I was able to redirect that instance but otherwise we do have to do their laundry and dishes here in Idaho anyway. I am curious how it turns out for you.
    I do not agree with us being maids as well as health care professionals at all!
    I don't agree with your manager. If they really need those services, they can pay for home health aides. It is never the nurse's (RN or LVN - a nurse is a nurse) job to clean the patient's dishes or clothes (or anything other than the patient or his or her actual medical equipment). Since mom doesn't have to do the nursing stuff, she has PLENTY of time to do the cleaning! If she won't, that's child neglect and she should be reported to the authorities. It was sweet of you to do it, though. Bull snot about the body fluids, by the way. Do nurses in hospitals do laundry because it's saturated in body fluids? No! It's just greed. They'll say and make us do anything to keep that account, won't they? I'm hoping my agency didn't tell the mom I would do laundry. Yes, they've taken advantage of me in the recent past, and they could be doing it again, but I want to believe it's just a weird fantasy mom has that my agency (who has lately promised to make up for past issues) will make go away. Other than the maid garbage, I like the family.
  14. Visit  AnaCatRN profile page
    10
    Quote from nursel56
    It's unfortunately a game parents will play - and I can assure you there are many posts here detailing families wanting the nurse to clean the bathrooms, do the family dishes, and/or babysit for the other siblings.

    Many of them have the belief that since it's 1:1 care you have a "cushy" job and if there are HH aides in the house who do housework they will compare you to them and what hard workers they are while "nurses just sit around". They have no grasp at all what critical thinking or assessment skills are.

    Even with a family I got along wonderfully with for years - muttered something under his breath about nurses, and I said to myself "no more". I'm a human being, too - and when I can't afford the insurance I pay taxes so you can get for free. No. Not happening anymore. I felt myself getting very close to the edge of losing it with them.

    However, I don't feel this falls in line with the "customer service" trend exactly, but what happens is sometimes the agencies side with the families if the families threaten to change agencies. My agencies did not have that type of dysfunction going on, but it is not all that unusual from what I can tell.

    I wash the dishes I use for the patient's meals, the DME and associated tubings and supplies, restock suction catheters or other medical supplies the patient uses, and sometimes put a stained sheet to soak but that was as a favor for the daytime caregiver and not something I felt obligated to do.

    I certainly have felt the same frustration! Hope it works out for you.
    I've been asked to babysit by 2 families (because the other nurses do it), but I didn't do it. See that's the problem. If we don't get the office to step in and say "this is not acceptable," the pushover nurses (and I'm almost one of them - but not there yet!) and the families will just have a free for all over what new tasks can be added. I've also had parents comment on how little we actually do on the night shift. You know what, I don't make nearly as much as I would in a hospital. I only have one patient (which is why I do this, so I can focus on one patient and give the absolute best care possible), and when I'm not doing what I need to for that patient, I'm gonna study or watch a movie on my computer (always ready to jump up and tend to the patient). That's my reward for not getting a break at all during my 12 to 14 hour shift and having such low pay and NO benefits. Last time *I* got sick, I racked up $20,000 in hospital bills I can't pay and couldn't get a nurse to help me with my wound that I had a hell of a time tending to myself. Yeah, you're so right. It's not fair that we work so hard, have no benefits, and get treated like crap. I stay because I love my patients like my own family. However, I don't do my family's laundry, either.

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