Friday, April 27, 2007

Overworked and understaffed - Revisited

I received an e-mail recently from a close acquaintance describing a situation they experienced regarding nursing home care. The problem seems to lie in under staffing; perhaps its about making money for the facility, perhaps there's just not enough qualified help available. Either way, the result is not good. I have changed the names of locations (in italics) in the original e-mail to protect the anonymity of the author and the location of the facility.

I heartily agree with your assessment of the nursing homes. I work at a retirement home here in Somewhereville sometimes and had a job this winter with a 300 apartment facility in SomeUrbanplace, Somestate. About half were in the assisted living part, but attendance of qualified personnel was limited there and in the rest of the facility - nonexistent.At the end of my employment there, I agreed to fill in at the reception desk in the independent living section for two weekends - all night 12 hour shifts. To my surprise, I was it - the only employee on duty - solely responsible for hundreds of people - most infirm, with walkers or wheelchairs - on three floors, in two buildings with several entrances to the various sections. It was so huge that I constantly got lost in the labyrinth of floors and corridors.The nurse on duty in the assisted living section was not allowed to attend to any residents in the other sections, so it was up to me to decide what to do when residents called for help. While I did assist several, I never called 911, though I think I probably should have is some cases. The poor residences were terrified that they would be reassessed and be required to move if it was determined that they did not have the capacity to care for themselves. One night, a lower level hall filled with the smell of smoke that smelled like someone burned from food. The chef (who's job topped mine) hadn't left by then, and decided it was not necsesary to call the fire dept, but I worried about it for hours, until the smell disipated, and still think I should have called 911.I could go on and on about the deficiencies in that place.

This seems like an extreme case, but it is happening everywhere that I've seen.

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