Sunday, August 29, 2010


I see some weird situations in my line of work. Families who get up in arms about every little thing (such as how many fun-sized candy bars in the "for staff" dish are being eaten daily) and families who are almost impossible to get a hold of so we end up improvising mightily to try to get the resident's needs met. Old people who insist on wearing multiple pairs of underwear, or none at all. People who swear up and down that they lost a box of puppies, or that I work for the railway.

But the weirdest and saddest thing I see is neglect.

We got a new resident this weekend at my facility, who apparently was moved in by his private caregiver, to whom he pays the ungodly amount of $4,000 per month. Caregiver dropped him off and then took the weekend off. The marketing director at my facility apparently thought this was okay, even though she did the intake interview (not the director of nursing, which is who should have been given the opportunity to assess him before he moved in) and should have known that he cannot walk unassisted AT ALL. This is her job. To find out if people are a good match for what we can offer them, and to be sure they will be cared for adequately if they move in with us. She didn't do that. She failed, completely, at her job in this case.

So, since he was supposedly independent and his caregiver took off, this poor man spent the night in his armchair, peeing into a cup when he needed to pee. In the morning he tried to get up, and fell. Was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, and was readmitted to our facility and now suddenly needs to be on assistance. So I'm in his room, trying to figure out what stinks of urine (everything) and how I'm going to get this man cleaned up. His daughters have flown in from another state, horrified at the situation. They're in there, and I'm giving them a shopping list (waterproof bed pads, vinegar, briefs, hernia belt, etc.) and directions on how to get to the stores that sell this stuff.

The marketing director, who, along with the criminally neglectful "caregiver", created this mess, comes breezing in and pulls me into the other room to tell me to "call him Sir" rather than Mr. So-and-So, which I was doing. Then, as if to soften that blow, mouths "Don't worry, you're doing a good job" to me.

Oh. Hell. No.

Normally I appreciate hearing thanks or validation about my work. I love it when my residents say "Thank you so much honey" and give me hugs when I tuck them into bed. It makes me a little teary when they say "I'll miss you, doll, come say goodnight if you have a chance before you go home. Drive carefully!". This is a job where I feel I am making a difference every single day. And I love that.

But do I need validation from this woman who created a situation where the Director of Nursing's BEST option was to let this man fall so his family would see he needs help from sane people? No, no, no, I do not.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I fantasized about putting his filthy blankets in her office and suggesting that she wash them for Sir. Or tossing her the most disgusting hernia support belt I've ever seen in my life and watching her catch it with bare hands. Or telling her to brush this man's teeth, which were so discolored at this point, I won't even tell you what it looked like when I finally did get him to let me clean them.

What I do is difficult. And I don't need any fake-ass "compliments" from people who just don't get it, even if they work in eldercare and should know better.

And this poor man's "caregiver"? The family is prosecuting her. So my new resident is being cared for, and the person that neglected him is caught. Now that's a happy ending in my book. Though I may still have to find a way to put something disgusting in the marketing director's office ... and then tell her what a good job she's doing while she cleans it up.


  1. I am SO proud of you and what you do every day to bring moments of dignity and love to those who need both so much. I marvel at your patience, determination, and especially the size of your heart. Thank you from all of us out here who read your blog, and smile, and sometimes get tears in our eyes from your stories.