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Lack of Respect?

Lack of Respect?

Julie@LifeintheNHS

February 27, 2008

As a young nurse I found caring for elderly, infirm people a bit of a challenge. While I got on well with my own older relatives none of them were actually that old. I found it difficult to relate to people who were confused, infirm and often incontinent. My elderly care placement during my training was not my favorite. I have memories of a night spent changing the bed of one patient probably 10 times due to her diarrhea and urinary incontinence. I am not sure if we had any pads but we certainly can’t have been using them. However I do know that we treated that old lady with compassion as we turned her washed her and made her comfortable even when she fought with us during her confusion.

Even though this wasn’t my favourite group of patients, I was a nurse, it was my job to provide the best nursing care to everyone I came into contact with. What’s more older people have always been pretty large users of the health services, so there was no real way of getting away from them (unless you went into children’s nursing and I didn’t really feel drawn to that specialty either). Gradually I discovered that having multiple illnesses didn’t render people senile just because they were over 70 and I also found that even those who couldn’t recognise their own relatives had feelings and could feel pain. These people had (often until days before) led active lives, they had been people with important jobs; they had managed large families and of course had lived through and often fought in world wars.

It is some time since I can say I nursed a patient but I have heard plenty of tales of things not being right when it comes to the care of elderly people I have heard the way nurses and those meant to be carers have spoken to older people and I have been told of the experiences of others. Today a parliamentary select committee report has stated that “an entire culture of change” is needed in the way older people are treated within the health care system. They say that people’s human rights are being abused as those who should be caring for them leave them with inadequate food and hydration, do not respect privacy, roughly handle them and generally handle these vulnerable people in a manner they would not (I hope) treat their dog. Age concern put the number of older people in the UK suffering neglect in this way at 500,000. This is taking place in hospitals and care homes alike and no doubt also in people’s own homes.

I have always tried to gauge the appropriate level of care to be that which I would expect for my own grandmother (or other close relative) and in my view this appears to fall pretty far short. If we are to believe this reports and the anecdotes that litter the newspapers and internet sites on an almost daily basis then nursing faces a major challenge. Many of these older people probably do not come into contact with a qualified nurse on a daily basis, but of course some will. It is however, up to nurses to set the standards here, to demonstrate the attitudes and level of care that everyone who comes in contact with them should expect. It is up to us to be vigilant, to listen to the stories of our patients and their families, it is up to us to report poor care and to make every attempt to change it. As relatives and as people who for example pass through a nursing home or hospital we must be prepared to blow the whistle on poor care, on verbal and on physical abuse. Elderly people account for a very large and growing proportion of our population. We must treat them with the respect they deserve. Don’t forget one day that will be us.


Do you think there is a lack of respect for geriatric care among nurses? Sound off here.



      

      

      
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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    JKAYS

    almost 7 years ago

    4 comments

    It is sad that in nursing homes, the nurses spend most of their time with paper work instead of their patients. I swear every week we had a new form we had to fill out. At the home i worked we were lucky enough to have 4 aides for 40 patients. Some facilities Only have 1 or 2 for that many. However, it still doesnt seem like enough. It was tough to handle so many different problems, call lights, families etc. with the minimal help. I wish the state would wake up and change the regulations. Care for the patients more than the paper work and documentation.

  • Nana_and_grandkids_minus_noah_max50

    charlita

    almost 7 years ago

    2976 comments

    I always said I wouldn't work in a LTC. Well guess what? I did. It was one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had I witnessed enough neglect and disrespect to write a book. I heard patients being talked to and treated as though they were children. I heard patients being yelled at and handled roughly on a daily basis. It was so sad to see patients who had been a CEO of a company or fought in a war or a schoolteacher being treated without any dignity. Sadly, it was the ones who didn't cause problems who received the least care. We were always short staffed which led to multiple problems, one of them being neglect. Though not intentional, there just wasn't enough time to do everything that needed doing. The patients with family members who complained were the ones who got the most attention. There just wasn't enough time and too much to do. In addition to taking care of patient's problems, family members, supervising CNAs, I had my own duties to complete. When we were short staffed(which was always) we had to take on the CNAs duties, aswell as our own. Working the 3-11 shift, we were often left to our own devises. I always went home exhausted and frustrated. When it came time to consider placement of my own mom in a LTC, I fought it with tooth and nail. I hope all LTC facilities are not like the one where I was employed, but I wasn't willing to take that chance. Maybe they are old and feeble and don't know what day it is, but these are the ones who need our heip the most. Remember, one day we will be old too. And I have always believed that what goes around, comes around.

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    KCN4206

    almost 7 years ago

    2 comments

    I AM 45 YEARS OLD AND HAVE BEEN A GERIATRIC NURSE FOR THE WHOLE 17 YEAR OF MY NURSING CAREER AND WILL ALWAYS BE SO I LOVE THEM ALL EVEN THE MORE CHALLENGING ONES BUT EVEN IF IT’S ONLY THAT RARE OCCASSION YOU GET A SMILE IT IS ALL WORTH IT I FEEL LIKE SOMETIMES PEOPLE FORGET OUR ELDERLY ARE STILL PEOPLE WITH FEELINGS EVEN THE CONFUSED AND DESERVE THE RESPECT OF US ALL THEY HAVE CERTAINLY BEEN ABLE TO TEACH ME A THING OR TWO ABOUT LIVING LIFE TO IT’S FULLEST I AGREE THERE IS A LACK OF RESPECT FOR THIS FIELD OF NURSING AS A GERIATRIC NURSE ON DAY SHIFT WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF THE OVERALL CARE FOR 20 PATIENTS ON 3-11 AND 11 – 7 IT’S 40 NOT TO MENTION THE AMMOUNT OF DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED BY THE STATE WE SPEND 2 1/2 HOURS A DAY ON MEDS AND TREATMENTS AND THE REMAINDER ON THE PAPERWORK WHERE IS THE TIME FOR THE VERY MUCH NEEDED TLC THE REAL REASON I BECAME A NURSE

  • Family_062007_032_max50

    sthomp125

    almost 7 years ago

    8 comments

    I certainly know that there is a lack of respect for geriatric patients. I don't believe it is intentional among nurses or aides. I think it is due to inadequate support from hospitals or other facilities. I've witnessed first hand confused, impulsive patients being medicated or restrained instead of management allowing a 1:1 aide. When you have 2 very ill patients and 2 confused, impulsive, incontinent, feeder patients without an aide, it's inevitable that they will receive inadequate care. It's always a relief when these patients have a supportive family. The families are the first ones I call for assistance when management doesn't give the support the patient deserves. I think health inspectors should require that facilities show proof of 1:1 aides and investigate how often these patients are medicated or restrained. I think this will make the facilities accountable.

  • Family_062007_032_max50

    sthomp125

    almost 7 years ago

    8 comments

    I certainly know that there is a lack of respect for geriatric patients. I don't believe it is intentional among nurses or aides. I think it is due to inadequate support from hospitals or other facilities. I've witnessed first hand confused, impulsive patients being medicated or restrained instead of management allowing a 1:1 aide. When you have 2 very ill patients and 2 confused, impulsive, incontinent, feeder patients without an aide, it's inevitable that they will receive inadequate care. It's always a relief when these patients have a supportive family. The families are the first ones I call for assistance when management doesn't give the support the patient deserves. I think health inspectors should require that facilities show proof of 1:1 aides and investigate how often these patients are medicated or restrained. I think this will make the facilities accountable.

  • Img_5234_max50

    Monique76

    almost 7 years ago

    34 comments

    Very good article. I have not worked in geriatrics for any length of time, but I have witnessed this type of behavior and attitude towards the elderly (especially the rough handling and ambulation). I also know how frustrating it is to work with individuals who suffer from incontinence, pressure ulcers, and lack of personal hygiene. I have seen family members who can't bear to be in the same room with the patient because they are unable to understand and communicate with their elderly family members. There is a running census of people here in America that find aging disgraceful and obscene. Doing everything in their power to turn back the clock, they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the next anti-aging product or health gimmick. I'm appalled by the way the elderly are treated, yet I do my best not to judge the family members or nursing staff unless the practice is downright aggregious. I try to give the best care possible to the most fragile and misunderstood segment of our aging population.

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    feakesandy

    almost 7 years ago

    2 comments

    It is heartening to hearyour opinion regarding older people, having specialised in older peoples mental health for the last 9 years, to look at how attitudes should be changed, check out the work of Tom Kitwood and the Bradford dementia group. Person centered care as it should be not just a buzz word. It's the way I expect to be treated should I be privledged enough to reach a ripe old age.

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