Nursing Home Follies

Working in a nursing home has never been something I was thrilled about doing. It was just never a place I wanted to practice nursing. But a friend of mine was DON of a nursing facility. She and I had worked several jobs together, sometimes she worked for me, sometimes I worked for her. I obviously owed her a VERY big favor, because she talked me into working as charge nurse in her facility on the weekends for a summer to help her out. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Nursing Home Follies

Making rounds one weekend, I walked into check on a patient who was sitting in her wheelchair laughing hysterically. Her roommate was sitting in the middle of her bed with her legs tucked up under chin rocking back and forth. Since I had been working there for a few weeks, I was starting to know the patients and their habits.

The behaviors being exhibited by these two were out of sorts. I should probably mention that the patient in the wheelchair was nearing her hundredth birthday and she was sharp as a tack. Her daughter-in-law and great-granddaughter had just arrived for a visit. The patient's great-granddaughter was pleased to see her grandmother in such a good mood. She was questioning her grandmother as to why she was so happy. I stood in the doorway and continued to listen and observe.

The patient responded to her granddaughter's questions by stating that she was having a "very good day". Her granddaughter asked what had happened to make it so good. The grandmother replied, "you know they give me those water pills to make me go to the bathroom, but once they give them to me, no one wants to come back to help me to the bathroom. So today they gave me the water pills. I called for over an hour for someone to come help me."

The granddaughter was obviously becoming a little concerned. She had just come for a visit from out of town and was also a nurse. The granddaughter asked her grandmother if anyone had come to help her.

The patient replied, "yes, Honey, they finally came. But the reason I was calling them was to let them know the commode was overflowing. They assumed I needed to go to the bathroom. By the time they got in here to help, there were at least two inches of water covering the floor of our room!"

She further stated, "I was calling to try to help them by letting them know about the mess before it got out of hand, but they wouldn't come. It took two of them an hour to clean this room!"

She went on to say as she smiled, "it serves them right. If they don't want to help us, they shouldn't be working here. But I have to say, it made it my day!"

It was then the granddaughter turned to see me standing in the doorway. I asked if there was anything they needed, but they declined for the moment and went on to visit the patient. Once they finished their visit, the daughter-in-law and granddaughter came to find me.

We talked about the patient and I answered the questions the granddaughter had. I apologized for the incident on the previous shift, but the granddaughter stated she understood the staffing issues, etc (I think she knew the patient had gotten her point across).

The granddaughter had brought the patient a special lunch that was her favorite and the patient had eaten every bite of it. The granddaughter was pleased to see how well her grandmother looked, ate and acted. I commented that she did indeed look much better that day.

The next day I came to work only to discover that during the night shift, the staff on duty was making rounds and discovered the patient had died. The patient's daughter-in-law and granddaughter came that afternoon to retrieve the patient's belongings.

As I was expressing my condolences to them, the granddaughter replied, "My grandmother looked better than I had seen her in years. She was so happy, even if it was at the expense of the staff. She ate what she loved and she was laughing. She obviously died happily, and if that's what it took to make her happy, it's ok."

I thought a lot about my conversation with the granddaughter. It made me realize a couple of things:

1. Enjoy every minute no matter how you have to do it,

2. The patient's comment about the staff not needing to be there if they didn't want to help hit me like a bomb. It was then I realized that it doesn't matter where I work, my patients depend on me and they need me. And that's why I became a nurse.

Now every time I have the privilege to visit a nursing facility, I enter those doors with a different attitude, no matter what my business there.

19 year(s) of experience in Hospice. Also, home health and oncology. I am currently working on my legal nurse consulting cert and have just re-entered school to work on my DNP.

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