Caregivers are the voice of care…

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I recently read a story of a Saskatchewan nurse that was charged with professional misconduct for posting her opinion on Facebook. She expressed her concern over some of the care she saw while her grandfather was dying in Palliative Care. She did not name any names. She simply stated that some care could have been batter. The post in question is below:

 

“My grandfather spent a week in palliative care before he died and after hearing about his and my family’s experience there, it is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care or how to help maintain an ageing senior’s dignity,” 

Carolyn Strom was shocked to learn she was reported to the SRNA over her Facebook post. (Facebook)

“I challenge the people involved in decision making with that facility to please get all your staff a refresher on this topic and more. Don’t get me wrong, ‘some’ people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time,” she added.

Strom went on to caution those with loved ones in a health-care facility to keep an eye on their family members, and to ask people who work in health care to be more compassionate.

“As an RN [registered nurse] and avid health care advocate myself, I just have to speak up,”

 “Whatever reasons/excuses people give for not giving quality of life care, I do not care. It just needs to be fixed.”

(http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/facebook-post-prince-albert-nurse-charged-professional-misconduct-1.3400676)

I find it outrageous and very scary that we are trying to silence caregivers who are the voice for their family, clients, patients, etc. Is that not part of a caregivers role?

We all like to pretend we have patient centered care everywhere. Policies and Programs are advertised and promoted saying how much we compassionately care but -do we really?

Corners are cut, care is rushed and policies are only there to cover management and government when someone speaks up. I have worked in LTC and hospitals where it was standard practise to rush through care because of understaffing. Patients would be fed by a psw who was feeding three other people in the same 15 minutes. I worked on a floor where patients were put to bed at 2:30 in the afternoon and expected to use an adult brief until the next morning because of understaffing and uncompassionate staff.

The politics of working in the healthcare field are more draining than anything we have to do with clients or patients. It is exhausting to try and give compassionate care when the system fights it all the way. Staff are allowed to slack off and not consider patients feelings- simply concentrating on what bare minimum work they can get away with and still get paid.

I recently talked to a nursing student that worked on a Mental Health floor where all the staff spent the majority of their time in the nurses station. When asked why they worked there they said it was great because they did a lot less work and spent their shift talking amongst themselves. I have witnessed hours, days and weeks of this while visiting patients I have known receiving mental health inpatient care. Why is someone in the profession not speaking up, not re-educating nurses to truly care about the people they are there to care for.

Patients and their families are not some annoyance that gets in the way of job…..caring for them is the whole purpose of our job. I don’t think Florence Nightengale sat in a nurses station the whole time she was on a floor, worrying about what benefits she was getting and who was in scheduling that day. She was there to care for patients, to offer compassion to human beings in need. It was not about what the union rules were or what her job discripition said it wasn’t about her at all. It was about the patient.

The first patient that ever died on my shift as a PSW at the hospital was difficult for me. He died in his wardroom with three other patients, he was palliative. When I said I wish I had been there to hold his hand or wipe his brow a nurse said to me “There’s work to do, we don’t have time for stuff like that.” I was shocked how cold the environment was when the family was notified they came to say goodbye, still in a ward room, with only a curtain between them and the three other patients. No nurse walked them to the elevator, offered them water or hugged them to say sorry for their loss. I was yelled at by a nurse for taking the time to do so. It is not right, the lack of caring by those who are paid to care. And it is wrong when those that do care are told to be quiet or sanctioned.

Every caregiver in the country needs to speak out for patients not treated with dignity or compassion.  The people that brought charges against Strom for professional misconduct were right about one thing. Caregivers should be held to a higher standard. The problem is Storm is the only one that I see in this situation acting like a professional caregiver. It is not about reputation or media, it is not about bruised egos of those who think she was talking about them. It is about every human being getting respect, dignity and compassion when being cared for.

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One Response to Caregivers are the voice of care…

  1. Davina Lytle says:

    I totally agree; care-givers should be held to a higher standard. When they see a patient not being treated with compassion or dignity, not only should they be allowed to share that information without being penalized; they should be praised for coming forward about it. Great article crazy lady!

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