No Guarantees

When I worked in LTC, I took care of a resident who was total care, and had dementia with psychotic features. This resident used the call bell a lot and yelled for people to help often. One day I was walking down the hall to this resident's room and it occurred to me---this could be me in 30 or 40 years, and without a clear mind or someone to care enough to speak up for me I would truly be helpless. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

No Guarantees

There are no guarantees in life. No one came into this world with a guarantee of perfect health and ability until the moment we die. Diseases will happen, accidents will happen; and when they do, we can become disabled to the point that we need someone else to care for us.

Every day we wake up and take care of our ADLs without thinking twice about it. Do we ever wonder---what would it be like to depend on another to brush our hair, bathe us, brush our teeth, toilet us, feed us, and turn us? What would it be like to need all this help and not be helped, because no one spoke up about the bad caregivers?

Years ago when I was younger, I heard of the mandated reporter law, where certain people were required by law to report abuse. At the time, I wondered why the law was necessary. Over the years I found out why the law was necessary---it was because not everyone will report abuse. There will be some who will say to themselves "Don't rock the boat, don't make waves", and there are others who are afraid to get involved, who say "It's not that simple" when asked why they didn't report. In the meantime, the victims suffer.

All of us worry about paying our bills, our groceries, paying off our mortgages or cars, and hoping that we can get or keep jobs that pay enough to take care of all of this. When someone has to go to a LTC facility, they no longer have to deal with bills, groceries, mortgages, car payments, or jobs. However, there is a new set of things to worry about such as:

  • Will I be taken care of or neglected?
  • Will the CNAs take care of me or leave me in a mess?
  • If I'm weak and helpless, will someone feed me, or will they chart meal refused because they didn't want to take the time?
  • Will the person who turns me be gentle or rough?
  • Will they even turn me at all?
  • Will I be seen as a demanding, whiny nuisance or as a human being?
  • Will I be treated as a human being?

A long time ago, I figured that if I got fired for reporting abuse or neglect, I could always find a different job. The residents in LTC can't change their circumstances that easily, and they can't choose their caregivers that easily. I haven't read every single news article in the U.S., but it seems like there are more stories about, and more attention is paid to endangered species than to the elderly in LTC.

At any time, anyone of us could end up in LTC; maybe years into the future, maybe next month. When it does and living in LTC becomes necessary, I hope that the facility is a good place with caregivers who truly care, and staffed with people who will advocate for the residents, who will step up to the plate and report abuse and neglect as far up the chain of command and the State as necessary, and who will have the courage to do so.

The residents in LTC are vulnerable and they need people who will speak up for them. It's not enough to just leave a bad facility without reporting the bad conditions---because then the facility gets away with it, and the people suffer.

Former CNA and janitor; grew up in Oregon, and California

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Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

This one goes straight to the heart. Great work! Food for thought, certainly.

Thanks, SmilingBluEyes. I posted this because in a couple of places on this BB, I think the member who posted their work situation just quit and didn't report the problems when they needed to.

I too have thought about this and I really love your article and that you thought about this I'm sure makes people realize you have the insight to treat people with respect and dignity. How awful to be a proud man or women your whole life and have that taken away. Would be horrible right? I hope and wish that all CNA's and Nurses would feel this way after all thats is why we are there and we could be there someday.

Well I for one am speaking up. I'm going to the media. I've been to the governor, the state, the ALF's, no one cares. As long as these ALF's are for profit, the elderly suffer, PERIOD. I've been thrown under the bus for filing my complaints. I've been discredited, lied about, accused of things that I never would even think of doing, all because I care about what is going on in these places. Believe me, if you speak up, be prepared to be attacked. I'm not backing down. Every generation needs a voice for their elderly poplulation. I won't give up!!

One of my colleagues and friends, an RN, was fired because she spoke up and reported malpractice by an MD. ANY mistreatment, abuse, or malpractise needs to be reported, but the person reporting needs to be protected by law so that termination, demotion or other vindictive behavior is not possible.

I was lucky - our nursing home that we did clinicals at was really excellent - the patients were as healthy as they could be at that point, there were no wounds caused by the nursing home, the nurses and CNAs really cared... but I wish there was something we could do to make them less lonely. Still - I would give a lot to see every nurse care as much about patient advocacy as you all!

I am from a Southeast Asian country, and our culture is in honoring those who have raised and took care of us when we were younger. I guess I can say that I am lucky in that sense, because we are bound by that culture.

I do agree with you that it is a great burden. I too, even if I was born in this country, wonder what will happen in 30-40 years. It can change dramatically. These facilities offer so many things to society. It would be difficult to compensate emotionally for these people, but physically and everything else, we could offer. The US is lucky to have such great facilities like that there, because here, it's not that taken care of. I liked your article because as nurses, we dedicate our time so much in helping others that we forget to take care of our own family.. and then, we think about that time that we will be in that situation as well.