May I have your thoughts please about our Long Term Care System?
Answer: I would like to think that it would make a difference if I escalated my concerns about the long term care that is being provided to one of my clients in a memory care unit (this unit has a ratio of 8 residents to one aide), but I know that it would only further the perception that I am here in my role as a Patient Advocate only to point out the flaws of our long term care system.
My role as a Nursing Patient Advocate is to advocate for what is right for the patient, and it seems to me that this should be the role of everyone involved in our long term care system, as we drain the retirement accounts of thousands of elderly people and tell them how great these places are and that we truly care about them.
I consistently question staff about why my client’s nails are dirty, why their hair is not combed, and why their clothing is not clean; and I consistently get from the staff that the unit is short staffed, there are no replacements available, and that their staffing assignments have changed. Notoriously, I hear from the staff that it is the fault of the residents themselves because they are uncooperative. Of course they are!!! they have dementia!!! – that’s why they are in the long term care system in the first place.
YOU (our long term care system) are telling everyone that you are the experts, yet I consistently have to navigate how to manage a resident with dementia. I’m at a loss of how you can collect upwards of $7000 to $8000 a month or more and still suggest to the family that they consider enrolling their loved one in a program that will provide “one to one” care for as many hours as they want for an additional $18.00/hour. REALLY!!! In order to get attention for our most vulnerable population that are in what is expected to be a unit with expertise in long term care you want families to pay even more to get time with someone to care for them.
After spending three days challenging why a 91 year old client of mind was not moved out of her bed for 6 days because it was a holiday week and now she is so debilitated due to the lack of moving that she is now going home with hospice; I just can’t believe that there are so many people in our long term care system who just don’t get it and do not see what I see.
Sharon Gauthier, MSN/BSN/RN/CCM
Patient Advocate for You, LLC