Housekeeping vs Nursing and poop Oh My


When I imagined all of the hardships that would be associated with DON, I thought they'd be over more important things than poop and "who's better, nursing or housekeeping." Good Lord.

I've got bigger things to worry about but it appears the head of housekeeping is going to drag me into the administrator's office tomorrow so she can complain about her displeasure to him and my corporate DON!

I think what set her off was that the other day she came and drug me away from checking labs and medications to show me some laundry with diarrhea on it. I guess she expected me to go running, screaming down the hall to fire an aide for not rinsing it out in the hopper. Instead, I asked her to put it in the soiled U and then I asked the charge nurse to have an aide rinse it out when they got a between feeding and toileting and answering call lights.

In my hospital days, the understanding was always that the aides clean the poop off the patients, housekeeping cleans it up off the equipment, and laundry cleans it off the laundry. I guess in LTC aides have to do ALL of the poop work. Because it requires extra special training, I guess? Anyway - I guess I wasn't mad enough to make the director of housekeeping happy.

This morning while I was still in bed she sent me a bunch of texts saying she wasn't going in to do her four hours of MOD this morning because the charge nurse supposedly told somebody she didn't want her there, walking around with her clip board, ordering aides and nurses around. I am pretty sure what the charge nurse actually said was that she didn't need to come in and take care of an issue with an aide that the charge nurse and I had already taken care of.

IMO, a housekeeper shouldn't be able to order an RN or an aide around. She actually had the nerve to go into a room where an aide was assisting a nurse with a resident in respiratory distress while waiting for the ambulance, and tell the aide that she needed to get back on the floor and answer call lights. The nurse over-rode her decision and I supported the nurse. But I guess that's how it's done in LTC? Every department head, regardless of experience or education, is considered an expert in nursing? I think it got back to her that I said to another one of the department heads that, if I was working as a floor nurse, I'd be damned if I'd let a housekeeper tell me how to do my job and that anybody telling others what to do needs to learn how to do the job they're supervising.

I'm getting pretty tired of every single department critiquing the nursing department. I don't go room to room checking to see that the housekeepers and the social services department, therapy, and billing are doing their jobs correctly. I have my own job to do.

CapeCodMermaid, RN

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience. 6,089 Posts

Oh.....I feel your pain. Everyone thinks they know more than the DNS. No housekeeping supervisor should ever tell anyone in the nursing department what to do. Our housekeepers refused to clean up poop. If there is poop on the floor, it's up to the CNAs to clean it first and then the housekeepers clean it after. The whole thing is so silly. What ever happened to team work?

Nascar nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Hospice, Case Management. Has 36 years experience. 2,218 Posts

I keep waiting to get called to the office after my round with the business office manager yesterday. Admittedly, I kinda snapped at her in morning meeting yesterday when discussing a rash on a resident. Before I even completed my thought process she busts in with "Is it shingles, maybe an allergic reaction to soap, maybe it's...." Stop - just stop already. You do numbers and I'll do patient care. Everybody wants to be the expert.

To the OP - good for your nurse who refused to let the hskp supervisor pull the aide away during an emergency.



41 Posts

Yes - I would think people would act like we're all on the same team, and work together to get the job done as efficiently as possible. Instead, it's a constant war between departments.

I guess I won this battle. The corporate DON 100% backed me on everything and it has been made clear to the administrator and the director of housekeeping that the nursing staff are not below housekeeping. The director of housekeeping may not order my staff around. The housekeepers are to clean the poop off surfaces and laundry is to clean the poop off of the laundry. Why did it have to be such a battle? It's all common sense.

Of course we went to war again today. Corporate is demanding that the floors on one hall be stripped and waxed immediately, which means that the nurses are going to be unable to use the nurses station or their computers and many patients had to be moved to the other hall for at least 24 hours. So of course everyone has to come screaming at me about it like I'm the one that ordered the floors to be stripped and waxed. When I mentioned to my administrator that my nurses need computers to chart on he accused them of thinking they were too good to use the touch screens on the walls that the aides use. I wish he would follow a charge nurse for a shift and learn what they freakin' do. I tried to explain that they have to have a surface to write on and that they need the computers to order labs and get lab results etc. etc. but it was like talking to a wall. The administrator, maintenance, and housekeeping blocked off all the halls going to the nurses station before we had a chance to take any of their charts or anything they needed somewhere for them to use it. I had to climb over the freakin barricades to get the charts etc.

I had to get up from attending to subpoenas for information regarding things that happened before I became DON, to move charts, and then everyone started fighting about where the charts went. I have residents with medical issues that I'm supposed to be addressing and instead I had to spend my day dealing with BS and drama, then I actually left at 5:00 because I was so stressed out I couldn't think straight anymore.

And yes - EVERYONE thinks they can do everything a nurse can do, better. Nurses are the dirt under people's feet I swear.

I don't know how much longer I can do this - and it's not because the job itself is difficult but because of all the hell the other departments have to constantly give us.


Neats, BSN

Specializes in Case Manager/Administrator. Has 13 years experience. 682 Posts

It sounds like your facility needs to do some training on team work. I would have the housekeeping supervisor be the initial one to shadow a nurse supervisor for at least 3 hours.

Sometimes people have good intentions that produce bad feelings. A good team building approach would do wonders.



Has 23 years experience. 1 Article; 1,327 Posts

I have worked in several facilities and there is almost always a battle between housekeeping and nursing. I am always a little shocked when a housekeeper starts barking at me about which pain medication I need to give a resident or how they will try to stop a CNA in the hall to tell them that a resident has their call light on (as the CNA is walking toward that resident's room).

The thing that gripes me the most right now is our recent organizational chart. The administrator is ranked at the top, then all department heads, then the charge nurses and every staff member except CNAs, and the CNAs are at the very bottom. So a charge nurse and a dietary aide have the same rank? A housekeeper and a charge nurse have the same authority? And EVERYONE outranks the CNAs? It wouldn't bother me if people didn't actually believe it. A few days ago, I asked a housekeeper to stop swearing in the dining room. She pulled a copy of the organizational chart off the wall and told me we are on the same level and that I had no right to tell her what to do. Our administrator just shrugged and went about his day.

CapeCodMermaid, RN

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience. 6,089 Posts

Do we work in the same place? The BOM in my building (not a nurse) asked me (an RN) if you could get shingles more than once. I answered and she said 'you're wrong'. I politely asked her to refrain from asking me anything if she thought she knew the answer. Three people came up to me afterward and said they were shocked by her behavior.

One day she proclaimed radiation therapy is a waste of money because 'it never works'. I looked right at her and said 'It worked for me.' Everyone thinks they can do our jobs.



41 Posts

And it's not as if there's a nationwide shortage of housekeepers! They keep driving off my staff. So then the CNAs will be working short because we're fresh out of CNAs, and the housekeepers, medical records person, dietary aides etc. just continue to get after them like Cinderella's stepsisters.

I've been very insistent and constantly repeating "Nobody is to treat my staff with disrespect," and now of course they're all going overboard and pretending they're not allowed to make eye contact with the CNAs.

Freaking ridiculous.