Dealing with a retired HH nurse...

Nurses General Nursing


I've got to tell you that I've delt with many rude family members in my career, but dealing with our own kind sometimes makes me want to scream! All I can say is I'm so thankful I don't work the day shift from the stories I'm hearing. I mean we have nurses that absolutely hate being rotated to nights, but when you hear them saying, "I can't wait to work with you for two nights next week," you know it's got to be a rough road for eight hours on days...

We have a resident whose wife is a retired HH nurse...She comes in early in the morning and stays until 8 or 9 pm. During the whole time she does nothing but criticize what anyone does to her husband. No one wants to even go in the room to give meds because, "You're doing it the wrong way" or "that's not supposed to be like that," and "why don't you do this?" and "when are you going to do that???" And "blah, blah blah blah blah." She runs to the HN for EVERYTHING and reports you for anything. One night she wanted to spend the night because she said her car broke down, but she probably wanted to stay just to check up on the night shift and the care that is being given to him. If she got on my nerves that much I'd ask her, "Why are you so untrusting with the care we give him???" I would want to know. The husband is the sweetest little thing and she's such a Tiger so they say, all 4'11" of her. Does anyone have any advice I could give our dayshift in dealing with this little tyrant?


163 Posts

OMG the same thing going on here-- this woman thinks she gave birth to nursing. Actually got an Dr otder to change her husbands dressing d/t our incompetence! This did not fly w/ the DON and the woman was invited to discharge her husband that day if facility was soo horrible (she didnt use gloves to change is colostomy ) ewwwww any way try talking to NM or DON see if somethimg can be done--family members doing the txs lolololo

night owl

1,134 Posts

The HN is all for family members and residents and will not backup her staff. Will encourage the day and evening staff to try talking to her again, but I'm sure they will be wasting their breath.

Can family members actually do their loved ones tx's? Does her license have to be active or anything. Not sure how that works. I would just assume tell her to take him home. After all, who took care of him at home??? So why is he here? If she doesn't trust us with his plan of care, what other alternatives are there really? Thanks for the feedback nursenoelle. ;)

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

It's always the extremes, isn't it night owl? Either you get family members who NEVER show up, or you get the intrusive family from hell.

It's so hard to say things politely in this situation, but something straightforward and to the point like, "I appreciate your concern and input, but while I am his nurse and I am working under my license and this facility's rules, I need to do things as the policies and my training dictate," might be most effective. Repeat PRN until she either gets the message or runs down to the HN's office in a fit of apoplexy.

Before attempting this, you have to ask yourself is your HN supportive of the staff, or are the powers that be concerned more about keeping the bed filled? Whatever approach is used has to be consistent among all the staff, lest one nurse get the reputation for being the evil beatch lol.


1 Article; 2,334 Posts



859 Posts

We had a similar situation in our ICU. The wife wasn't a nurse, but she was aggressive, demanding, critical, and questioned EVERYTHING. Nobody wanted to take care of this poor man because his wife was such a PIA. Finally we had one of the unit's CNS's sit down and talk with her for over an hour.

She gently asked her if she realized that her behavior was actually detrimental to her husband's care--nobody wanted to be this guy's primary nurse, so he had no continuity, and the nurse who was assigned to him for the shift tended to stay out of the room unless she absolutely had to be there. The woman was very defensive at first but the CNS encouraged her to talk about her anxiety about her hubby's illness and talked about more constructive ways of dealing with that. They also talked about less counterproductive ways of dealing with hubby's caregivers. And the CNS spent a long time addressing her clinical concerns, explaining his therapies and why we were doing treatment X instead of treatment Y. That seemed to help a lot.

I won't say she turned around and was a complete angel, but she was significantly less toxic after that. Can you have someone objective, someone not on the nursing staff--the HN, a social worker, an NP or CNS, have sit-down with your PIA? Worth a try.

I also find that the "kill-'em-with-kindness" trick can work with this kind of person. Fuss over her a little, ask her about herself, anticipate her questions/concerns, ask her opinion on minor things that affect her hubby's comfort and so on. When they've gotten to the point that everybody treats them like they're radioactive or contagious, a little superficial friendliness and flattery can go a long way. Good luck!


69 Posts

I know it's going to be hell if the coversations starts "Well, I've been a nurse's aid for 20 years....."

hoolahan, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,721 Posts

Specializes in Home Health.

I agree she just needs a little attention. I would directly confront her, but nicely, sit her down, and say It seems that you are very unconfortable with the nursing staff, can you tell me what it is that has you so upset? Nine times out of ten it's just the stress of feeling helpless. Why not start suggesting she is such an excellent caregiver, she could probably care for him much better in her own home. As a retired HH nurse, I am shocked she didn't demand that. So, maybe she didn;t want to and feels guilty with her own decision?? Or wonders if the staff think badly of her for that?? Who knows??

As far as doing treatments, I can't answer for the rules of the facility, but in home care we instruct people do do all kinds of treatments, IVAB's, dressings, packing wounds, irrigating foleys, suctioning trachs, enteral feeds on pump and gravity or bolus, giving meds via enteral tubes, etc... So, frankly, if she was willing, and you could document a teaching session, and a return demo, I say, give her that. She wants some control, so put it in that her hands.

We have all been there, in HH I get the same way, Oh man, I have to go there again today??? Ugh!!!!! I find calling them on it is usually the best thing, sometimes all they need is someone to validate their feelings of helplessness, and other times they are a hopeless PIA!! :)


32 Posts

Intrusive family members are the pits! I remember taking care of one woman that kept telling us her daughter was coming today and she used to be a nurse. Well, the daughter shows up and starts with the Why this and why not this? stuff, and when I was working the patients got back rubs and linen changes every 15 minutes. I was truly trying to be nice until she wanted me to go to the PDR and make a copy of all the info for every pill her mother was getting. That's when I snapped and asked her why should I make a copy from the pdr when every nurse should know about lasix and calcium channel blockers and protonix etc. That's when I found out she wasn't "exactly a nurse"but had worked in the laundry. She never bugged me again.

ktwlpn, LPN

3,844 Posts

Specializes in LTC,Hospice/palliative care,acute care.
Originally posted by shavsha

I know it's going to be hell if the coversations starts "Well, I've been a nurse's aid for 20 years....."

Or " My daughter will take care of this -she is going to be a nurse (yep-has taken 2 pre-req's)

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

My Mother In Law is a retired RN and I hear it aaaaaaalllllllllthe time how I do things wrong, how rotten the profession is and blah blah blah.............after I while I just tone her out LOLOL.


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