Being in nursing care for a week gives one a lot of time to think and plan. At least it does if you are like me.
Many of us in my demographic have spent a lot of time with our parents in nursing care facilities, but when one is forced to be in nursing care in our not-yet-old years, the situation changes. We are NOT our parents; we are avid foodies and technology users. We know what a sheet with a high thread count feels like. We research everything on Mr. Internet and can find out when we are being strung a line of BS. So get with it, health care!
- It’s important to know one’s target market and audience. Management people at nursing care facilities need to be more careful about one-size-fits-all care. Before you start in on your canned questionnaire, learn something about me. Find out how I used to spend my days before I was in your facility. Then target your questions appropriately. I was visited by a social worker or volunteer every day and asked questions such as, “Do you play games such as bingo and bunko?” and ” What do you do in your free time?” When I answered that I like to cook in my free time, the response was, “No, in your FREE time!”, as if cooking was a chore rather than a delight. Apparently reading and watching television were the “right” answers; I finally sussed that out. And I don’t even know what bunko is! Social workers surely have resources that give them insights into the activities of certain age groups in geographical areas and these need to be incorporated into screening and data gathering products.
- Update decorating and menus based on current trends. Anyone who has watched Hotel Impossible knows that patterned institutional bed covers are suspect. If you haven’t personally watched your bedding being changed, you have absolutely no idea where it’s been. White is always right and easily washable. Although the meals in the rehab center weren’t bad, they were old school comfort food. Nothing says get well like a mushy stalk of asparagus and a slab of Boston creme pie.
- Everyone deserves privacy and respectful treatment. Day after day and night after night, in both the hospital and the rehab center, staff members left doors wide open, displaying patients’ personal belongings and even worse, patients’ bodies. The night staff members stood outside in the hall holding conversations at full voice despite the fact that the patients are supposed to be in bed, asleep. We are not all hard-of-hearing, and it is not appropriate for me to hear about my neighbor’s problem with impacted bowels. And I should have access to a locked compartment in my hospital room in case I want to secure some of my personal belongings.
- We are a generation of technology-users, and nursing care facilities should make it easy for the patients and their guests to plug in and connect with the outside world. My hospital room did not have enough electrical outlets to plug in my CPAP sleep apnea machine, and we had to bring an extension cord from home so that I could use my CPAP and charge my phone at the same time. The battery on my IV pole ran down twice in one night and its very loud alarm went off, practically scaring me to death. No wonder I had an irregularity in my heart rate that first night.
- In the age of word-processing, any document that I am asked to sign should be tailored to my situation. The nursing facility has all of my personal information and my insurance info before I even am checked in. There just isn’t any comprehensible reason that a pre-Medicare-aged person is asked to sign a document allowing the Social Security Administration access to my medical records. It would save wear and tear on the poor schmucks who have to come around and get my signature on insurance assignments; I pity the young man who encountered both my neighbor Marty and me on the same afternoon. Neither of us would sign the majority of the items in his fourteen page document as they didn’t apply to us.
That being said, there are hundreds of nursing care employees who are doing a wonderful job in a difficult and draining environment. Most of my nurses were pleasant no matter what, and my physical therapists worked long hours in uncomfortable work spaces. I believe that these men and women really cared about me and the other patients entrusted to their care and did their best even though there were problems everywhere. To my wonderful therapist Carlito and all the other workers, I say thank you, thank you, thank you.