Friday, July 29, 2011

Phoned it in, in a positive sense

Yep, that's right, I called Child Protective Services about my ex-coworker Calliope. They do prefer that you be able to give them your name and number, and the names/ages of the children you're calling about, as well as the parents' names and address. Luckily for me (as an abuse reporter, not as a taxpayer) Calliope's family is on "medical assistance" (ie her husband's on disability) so the person I spoke with was able to pull up her address easily. Since I haven't witnessed any direct child abuse, all I could report is that she is clearly a meth addict, and I know for 100% certain that she drives while intoxicated, both with and without her kids in the car.

As the case worker I talked to said, that's not enough for them to go and investigate the family. However, when something else inevitably happens, this will go a long way toward building a case for intervention. No one can be an adequate parent and a meth addict at the same time. I'm just so sorry for those kids that they have to wait for someone else to call it in again. I hope their teachers are being alert for signs of abuse and neglect.

As a reminder, if you have any reason to suspect child abuse or neglect in any kids you encounter, a national number is 1-800-4-A-Child and you can easily find the local numbers with google. If you're wrong, nothing bad will happen. No one goes and snatches kids away for no reason; they don't have the resources for that, for one thing. At worst, they'll do a check-in and find that everything's okay, and the family will be puzzled. At best, they'll do a check-in, find that things are not okay, and those kids will get the help they need.

The current trend with child welfare services is toward "family preservation". The goal is to give malfunctioning families support services (counseling, food stamps, respite care, medical care, etc.) in order to rehabilitate them and get them to be a decent place for their children to live. Even the agency I used to work at (theraputic group home for teen boys with multiple failed foster care placements) provides preservation counseling/coaching. It's pretty cool. Especially with the lack of people who want to foster parent. It's hopefully easier to fix the parents that already exist than to find new ones.

I guess we'll know in a few more years after the next batch of longitudinal studies come out.

In the meantime, screw you, Calliope. I hope your kids have other caring adults in their lives.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Um, what??

First, my favorite thing a resident said to me today:

I was at my cart getting meds out for the dinnertime pass when Wendy sidled up to me and quietly asked "So, have they reserved a rope and a tree for me yet?" I immediately burst out laughing and asked her where that question came from, to which she replied "I don't know, I just thought it up." and laughed as well.

Secondly, this is a note to myself:

Before accepting home care shifts, ASK A FEW QUESTIONS! I agreed to chaperon some dude to his doctor's appt via the local bus system's Dial-a-Lift on Monday. Then I got home and read the plan of care and ...
a) he lives at the CrapDorable place I used to work at briefly! Oh no. I hate that place. And the staff there, if they haven't all turned over by now, know it. So that's awkward.
b) his plan of care makes him sound like a freaking nightmare. Recovering alcoholic, combative toward staff at the crapdorable facility he lives at, multiple divorces ("DO NOT DISCUSS SPOUSES WITH CLIENT") and has threatened to kill his adult child and said child's spouse ("if this comes up, caregiver to redirect"). Oh my lord, this is going to be the longest few hours of my life.
c) he's wheelchair bound (hence the dial-a-lift) and apparently continent but is a 2 person transfer. So should he get the urge to go to the bathroom during the 4 or so hours I have him, I have to tell him ... what? "I hope you just have to pee, here's a big gulp cup you can use for a urinal." "Go ahead! All wheelchairs are destined to be pooped in anyway." "Let's see if I can get the nice receptionist to help me transfer you." Plus, given the quality of care at the crapdorable facility, chances that he'll be recently toileted and ready to go when I arrive are slim to none.

So, yeah. Polly, in the future, ask questions, you dumbass!

but yeah, I'm too broke right now to cancel this shift, so I'll just be crossing my fingers and counting my money in my head while I'm doing this terrible job

Monday, July 25, 2011

And then my night went off the rails...

I was all set for work today; I went to bed early last night and slept in late today, so I was finally rested for the first time in days. I showered, did my hair, watched the news.

And then I got to work and one of the two coworkers I was sharing the wing of the facility with was clearly high out of her damn mind. Ugh. She's been showing symptoms of drug use for a while now, and one of our charge nurses has been trying to figure out how to get her in for a drug test. This coworker, "Calliope" (her real first name is weird too) is always screwy after our paydays, then exhausted in between them.

Today it was just beyond obvious. A few of our more alert residents asked what was wrong with her, even. She was twitching, scratching, chewing on her lips, forgetting what she was doing mid-action, dropping things, smelled like burning ass and hair, and then to top it all off she fell asleep at the table when she was supposed to be feeding a resident. Dude. That's horrible. Let's pause to think about that and take a look at some faces of meth, shall we?

So my poor charge nurse got the honors of being the one to say "Hey, you need to leave right now. Don't come back until you have a clean UA. Here's the paperwork for that." Chances of that ever happening? Very, very slim. I'd be kind of surprised if she ever shows up at the facility again. But you never know. I think we should have taken her keys, but whatever.

So then after all that delightful excitement, me and my remaining sober coworker had 3.5 hours to give 5 showers and put 30 people to bed. Awesome. Thanks to other sober coworkers from the other wing who hurried over to help, we got it done.

And I'll be coming in to cover Calliope's shift tomorrow, I'm sure.

Here's the part where I need advice, dear readers: I want to call child protective services, because Calliope has three kiddos under the age of six. And it's not their fault that their Mom is a mess. Another sober coworker lives in the same neighborhood as Calliope and has seen her husband out and about, and reports that he seems to have a drug problem too. I don't have Calliope's home address or recall her children's names. I miiiiiiiight be able to get that from work, though probably not without breaking some rules. Which would be worth it, because there's no freaking way that these people are decent parents.

What info do I need to have before I call CPS? Is there another agency/route I should try instead or along with this?

Tell me, what have you all done in that kind of situation?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I wear a lot of hats. Today, literally.

The funny thing about working as a med aide at my facility is that I do a lot more "side work" (as it used to be called when I worked at Denny's back in the day) than I ever anticipated. My primary job is, and always will be, to complete my 3 med passes per day. But in addition to that, I basically fill in any gaps that need filling. I take phone calls from irritated family members who for whatever reason would rather talk to me than the nurse. I handle all the non-prescription type treatments that need to be done in a day (anti-itch lotion on one lady, mouthwash at a certain time of day for another, etc.). When the caregivers can't get a resident to do something, they ask me to do it. When the nurse can't get a resident to take their meds, they have me try it. And when, like today, someone calls out and we're understaffed, I run around like mad trying to get as much done as possible while still medicating all my old folks.

My notes to myself, on days like today, probably look like I'm delusional.

"Violet can't figure out chair - get urine?" then "UA neg. watch for more hallucinations. No bears this time."

"Confiscated several forks from Sally's pocket. ↑ Aggressive?"

"Spoke with Mildred's granddaughter via telephone from 0930-0950. Same old crap."

"Velma requests I cancel her flight to Copenhagen. Give her paper and pen for anxiety?"

"Beth finished her antibiotics. No luck. Still a mess! Is it her birthday?"

Luckily for me I don't have to file these notes. I distill them into something coherent and get others to follow up on what I actually meant by all that.

Today my main "side work" was to do something we call 'out to lunch bunch' which I think is pretty ironic given that it's a dementia facility. They're ALL out to lunch, permanently, right?

But anyway, now that it's nice weather out, we take a small group (who're able to and will enjoy it) out to the courtyard for lunch every day. Since the rest of the staff is serving/feeding/cueing in the main dining rooms, what the med aid does is start noon pass a little early, then go outside with a cart of food and beverages and serve the meal to the lucky bunch.

It's actually really pleasant, and a lot of the residents do really well out there; they like being outdoors, it's quieter, a smaller group, and I have time to really sit and talk with them as I help them eat their meals. Pretty sweet. The cutest part is that, in addition to sunscreen, we've got all these big floppy sun hats with fake flowers on them (the population is about 97% female at my facility) to also help protect them from the sun. Yesterday one of the ladies didn't want to wear her hat, but she really, really wanted me to. So I did. And when I popped inside to pick up some more milk, my coworkers threatened to take my picture in the hat and post it all around the facility. And the internet. And in our facility newsletter. So I wore one again today, just to teach them all what cool really is.

It's pretty much this:

There. Now you know what cool is, too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodbye, days off

I had a meeting at the college with my new advisor to put together an educational plan. This was necessary because some genius thought I could finish all my prereqs in 2 quarters instead of 3, and even if I did max out my aid and do 18 credits per quarter, I still wouldn't finish them all. Sheesh. So I had to submit a plan showing that it is indeed going to take me 3 quarters.

My schedule for fall quarter is to take chem, bio, and first aid. 12 credits total. And work full time. School Mon-Thurs, one evening shift after school (1400-2200). And then three 10 hour days Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays over at the Great Rep. Wash and repeat for the next three months.

I can do this. I will do this.

Winter quarter will be much the same.

Spring quarter, I really need to try to work less because I'm taking 15 credits, and my advisor recommended against me taking two of the classes I plan on taking simultaneously. She's concerned about the workload causing me to get bad grades. But I don't have a choice, I don't have unlimited time on this tuition waiver and who knows if I'll ever get a chance like that again. So I figure some time before spring quarter we'll have to figure out another source of income so I can cut back and work part time.

I know I can make it work. I worked 2-3 jobs simultaneously for almost a year in order to keep us afloat long enough to buy our comic book store. I had to schedule my sleep in blocks between jobs. And I did it. I've been through school before, and I'm comfortable enough at the GreatRep that it doesn't take a lot of mental energy now for me to make it through my shifts there. I'm tough. I'm not afraid to work hard. I'm just afraid of failure.

Pardon me while I go get my teddy bear...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Butt-Sized Bra and other stuff

Things have been pretty busy over at the GreatRep, what with activities department people quitting by pulling the ever-popular no call/no show, and caregivers getting pregnant and then never staying through a shift. I laughed and laughed when one of my charge nurses got snippy about that, saying "I worked here throughout both of my pregnancies. I've vomited in almost every room in this building! She needs to get her butt in gear and work through it because this illness? Is SELF INFLICTED!"

So we're all pulling extra shifts down there to try to keep it running smoothly enough until we can get more staff hired. And I'm tired, but I still like my job.

Highlights of my week: I have this resident, Mildred, whose children do not speak to her. I don't know why, I assume she did something to them to make them dislike her back before the dementia, and she's certainly a handful now. I genuinely like Mildred and find her funny, which is lucky, because as one of the two Med Aides at my facility, it falls to us to help Mildred wash her panniculus daily. Panniculus is a fancy word for "apron fold" or, less politely "big belly that hangs down enough to make a crevice that gets ouchy unless kept clean and dry at all times". Mildred's Granddaughter is a huge pain, and refuses to get her Grandma any new clothing that is the correct size for Mildred and her panniculus to fit into. So I'm at Goodwill the other day, looking for scrubs (found a cute pink top, too!) and I see a GINORMOUS bra there. Big enough that I could almost fit my butt into one of the cups. Perfect for Mildred! So I spent the $2.99, bought it, embroidered her name onto it, and brought it into work. Then, not wanting the buttsized bra to fall victim to our industrial washing machines, I wrote the following note, complete with illustrations of the bra, and taped it into Mildred's closet:

"Attention Caregivers! I got lucky and found a Mildred-Sized bra at the Goodwill. Let's only wash it on shower days so that the hooks can survive longer; I bet I won't find another one this big at Goodwill again. Thanks, Polly"

So hopefully it'll survive and Mildred will start being a little more ... contained. By her garments. Speaking of which, if anyone has maternity pants with those giant elastic waistbands, size 18-ish? Send 'em along. I'll embroider those with her name too, and then she'll be comfy and modest, both of which would be a welcome change to all of us over at the GreatRep.

Then the very very best part of my week was that the visiting wound care nurse came, and very enthusiastically showed me the pressure sore she's treating on another one of our residents, and the stuff she's using to treat it, and all sorts of awesomely disgusting and wonderful things! I told Mr. Polly about this, and his response was "There's such a thing as a wound care nurse? Why aren't you that? You would be in heaven. You should go be that." And he's right. I frickin' love that stuff. I googled the Tree Man (have you?) and am fascinated by burn treatments, weird rashes, deep pressure sores, etc. We don't get much of that at the GreatRep because really, there's no excuse for our residents to be developing pressure sores that get beyond a stage 2.

The wound care nurse was in for a lady whose pressure sore got deeper than we'd have ever let it get because she had MRSA. Not because we didn't position her correctly, or use cushions, or any of the other stuff we did. Just so you know.

So much as I'd like to see pressure ulcers that go down to the bone, and wound-vacs, and tunneling wounds... where I work isn't the place to get all that.

But I looooooooove when the wound care nurses come in!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This Place about to Blow

Work has been fairly humdrum lately. I still like passing the meds, and still don't like doing the caregiving as much. It's just so hard, and always such a time crunch. One of my favorite old ladies has been a real handful lately; her arthritis has gotten so bad she has a hard time walking but she just hates to let any of us physically help her up or down and will holler and swat us away. I had her on my assignment last night, when I was working as a caregiver, and I just kept telling her "Mama, I know you're used to doing things for yourself, but your arthritis has gotten too bad for that now. You need to let me help you, and I need you not to yell. I want to take care of you." She seemed relieved. She was cooperative. I love that crazy old nut.

The hardest part of my day is the 5pm med pass, because they're starting to sundown at that point. If I can stay focused and not get pulled away from my tasks, I can finish and get out of there at 5:30 like I'm supposed to. If I get interrupted a lot (by, say, a coworker yelling "Polly! Help in here!" because a resident suddenly decided the shower was a no-go and is attempting to RUN out of the room completely naked without her walker) I don't make it out the door before they finish their meal. And from 5:45-7pm pretty much all of them walk around going "Where am I? How do I get out of here? When am I going home?" and riling each other up. It's a stressful time of day. I often get the Ke$ha song "Blow" stuck in my head on those days. Speaking of which, have you seen the music video? It's AWESOME; so funny and so weird.