Help with solving a Patient Sitter Staffing problem

  1. Right now I'm working as a patient sitter and we have 4 or 8 hour shifts, I work the 3-11 shift and all other staff works 12's. The problem being that the middle of my shift is 7p. I understand that is a problem, so when the night nurse comes through I try to plan a dinner break starting somewhere between 8 and 8:30p. Lately this has become an issue and I get told we just don't have time or how about 10:30...really?

    We used to have 12 hour shifts we could sign up for but no one did, sitting in a room with someone for that long is horrific.

    As patient sitters we have problems even getting a restroom break let alone a 30 min dinner break. It's like we are an after thought as far as the rest of the staff are concerned. I've been doing this for over a year and 1/2 and I've yet to get the legal required breaks ever.

    My question is: What's the answer? It seems to me that staffing should adjust their resources accordingly. In stead of just complaining about it I'd like to offer suggestions, but I'm not on the other side of the fence so I'd love to hear some suggestions.
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    About DogWmn

    Joined: Oct '08; Posts: 601; Likes: 892
    Patient Sitter
    Specialty: LTC Family Practice


  3. by   Double-Helix
    Please keep in mind that those nurses are almost definitely not getting their legally required breaks either. 8:00-8:30 is a terrible time for nurses to spend half an hour sitting in one room. The shift starts at 7. It's 7:30-8 before the nurse is finished getting report on their 5-8 patients. Then there's assessments, vital signs, and medications that often need to be given around that time. It's nearly impossible for a nurse to be able to spend 30 minutes in one room at the expense of all the other patients that the nurse is assigned.

    In my hospital, if a sitter needs to be relieved for a break, the nursing assistant takes their place. At time, nursing assistance are even pulled from other floors for the half an hour in order to cover 1:1's on other units. The nurses simply can't take a break at that time, and I really don't see any way around that.
  4. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    I am an RN who works 7P-7A on a medical floor. I hit the ground running at 730 PM at the earliest and sometimes don't catch my breath until 1 AM. I have assessments and meds to pass, then by the time THAT is through it's time to do my I's and 0's, cover my accuchecks plus I'm sure to get at least one admission or transfer in there. If I don't have a tech working with me I'm also grabbing vitals and doing turns.

    I do not have time to relieve anyone at that time, especially for a half an hour.
  5. by   Morainey
    Are there NAs that could relieve you earlier than 7pm? Maybe at 5pm or so? When I did 3-11 as an aide I would usually have a dinner break at the same time as the patients and it seemed to work out well enough. After everyone was done eating the potty calls would start.
  6. by   DogWmn
    The problem is some of the units are short staffed and they have no unit sect'y or techs. I do understand that it is a busy time, but we do need to get out of the room away from these pt's and I NEED to eat something.

    My last shift I asked when the nurse could relieve me and was told ohh around 1am...ummm I get off at 11...sigh. Every time I put no lunch down the staffing office gets ****** and I'm not going work and get dinged for a 30 min break I didn't get (last I heard it's illegal).

    WeepingAngel patient sitter's can't leave the pt unattended they are either 1013's or fall risks and that's why we are there to begin with. I can't even go to the restroom without someone to cover for me and even that is getting difficult.

    I do understand how busy everyone is, however I'm asking for suggestions and possible solutions.
  7. by   LadyFree28
    When I did sitter duties, I at least collaborated with the nurse to make sure I was able to get my dinner and be able to eat, AT LEAST to get my food. Usually I collaborate with the 12-shift day nurse because usually, there is a good amount of time before shift change where the may have a few afternoon meds, sometimes that is not the case.

    I never went to diner at 7, because it was a change of shift for most nurses. I usually went to get my lunch at 5, or if I had packed my lunch, went then, and made sure I had a snack.

    If it was super busy, I would call the house sup to see if they could provide coverage, especially if the unit is short.
  8. by   Morainey
    I didn't mean leave the patient by themselves, I meant if there was a NA/tech or someone who could sit with the patient while you ate.
  9. by   applewhitern
    I can't offer any suggestions, as I know the other staff probably doesn't get lunch breaks often, either. Our hospital does not employ "sitters," if you need a sitter, the family has to provide (and pay) them. On the rare occassion that we have a sitter, we will have the cafeteria send them a tray, but they have to eat in the patient's room.
  10. by   JDZ344
    Does the floor have CNAs? Where I work, us CNAs will have to relieve the 1:1 while they have a break. Normally, it is not too bad, whilst I am in there I will check the vital signs if they are near due, check for incontinence and change, tidy the room, by the time that is done the 1:1 is normally back or almost due back and I don't have to go into that room again for a while so it saves me time in the long run.
    Last edit by JDZ344 on May 14, '14
  11. by   barbyann
    The charge nurse should determine your break time. It might be better suited to 5pm. Do you have a lot of nurses that stay late to chart? They could do the charting in the room and sit at the same time. The patient could be brought out to the desk and the ward clerk can keep an eye out. The most effective method I use is to commit 3 nurses/techs for 10 mins each and then no one is stuck in there too long. You need to talk to the charge when you arrive on the floor and make a plan together that suits the pts needs. Also, if a family or friend arrive to visit ask them if they will be there for a half hour and tell the charge.
  12. by   kool-aide, RN
    If you're not getting breaks, you need to make yourself heard. Continue to fill out the time slips saying you didn't get a lunch if you didn't. This is the only way things will change. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
  13. by   jadelpn
    This needs to be brought up to HR. You need to be able to have a break. Another sitter could be a relief per diem and just come in and round to make sure everyone at least has dinner on each unit that has a sitter. Providing that no CNA's on any floor can come and relieve you. I would also make a plan with the Charge Nurse a the begining of the shift. If she can not help you, then the nursing supervisor on shift needs to figure it out. It is a tough gig sitting for hours on end. If the RN is coming in each hour to do an assessment and check on her patient, then would also be a time for a bathroom break. However, if RN is just not coming in, and figuring that you will call her if you need her, then that is an issue that needs to be remedied.
  14. by   martymoose
    I understand the lunch break might be difficult, as the nurses hardly ever get one themselves(Im speaking as a nurse), but the bathroom break thing is ridiculous-seriously, someone says they don't have time to give you a bathroom/snack break? Even as the charge. I think I could fit in sitting in the pt room for 5 minutes so you can go. wow.

    Where I am , if there are no techs, then the nurse assigned to that pt is responsible for you.Seriously, I'd be happy to have a 1:1 ;otherwise I'd be the one in the room anyway, not providing care to my other patients anyhow. Wow. Excuses!!

    I suppose if you are not getting any breaks, then I would report it to the staffing office.