Monday, March 29, 2010

Can't see or hear- and that's just the staff

It's pretty much the same old at the old age home.

Last night I worked with the aide that I "harassed." All night, she ignored call bells and bed alarms. I stood my ground and told her to answer them. She rolled her eyes, sighed, cursed me. In the end, the safety of the patients had to prevail and I ended up answering most of the bells and alarms while she sat there glaring at me. Amazingly, nobody fell. Nobody ever does fall with her. I do not want someone to fall or get hurt, but I am waiting for the night when one of the patients on her assignment does fall and I get to write on the incident report, "Bed alarm sounding. Aide sitting outside room. Nurse responded to alarm and found resident on floor." I have never written an incident report so as to assign blame to an individual, but this is what administration wants. This particular aide has advised administration and the night supervisor that she has no intention of performing the duties required of her job, yet they keep her.

One particular bed alarm highlights the issue. I went to another floor to obtain forms. (Only one floor has a system to keep papers in order. One out of three is not too bad, I guess. No, computers are not used at all. Every record is handwritten on paper. I have to use my own laptop to file death certificates, which now can only be done online in my state. But that's another story.) That floor had a urine specimen for the fridge to await pick up. The fridge is located in the beauty parlor (which disgusts the beautician, but that's another story), which is inconveniently wedged on the floor I was working- in between the oxygen closet (you guessed it- I don't have a key) and the air vents. I brought the specimen down with me to place in the fridge. As I opened the door to my floor, I heard a bed alarm sounding. The aide was seated in an arm chair, looking quite bored. I said, "Can you go see who that is?" (I wanted to scream, "What the hell is wrong with you? Answer the damn bed alarm before somebody is on the floor, you stupid bitch." But I restrained myself.) Her eyes rolled. Sighed. Arms fell to the sides as her entire body collapsed into the chair more. Head shook back and forth. The fill-in supervisor was nearby. She looked for her keys, then for the key to the door of the beauty parlor, then we went in, found the light, placed the specimen in the fridge, turned off the light, locked the door. I washed my hands. I heard the alarm still ringing and saw the aide meandering through the hall, casually looking at (not even into) each room, as if she was window shopping on a too-long lunch break. I went down the hall towards the sound of the alarm, quickly bypassing her. The resident had not fallen. She made it from her bed to the bathroom. This particular resident is slower than molasses pouring out of a fridge, as another resident described her. She finishes breakfast as lunch arrives, finishes lunch as supper arrives, and is still eating supper when night shift arrives at 11 p.m. Yet it took her less time to get out of her bed and walk ten feet to the bathroom than it did the aide to walk the forty feet to her room.

Although this aide is the extreme version, most of the other aides are similar in nature. They do some work, ignore the rest, and go berserk if they are told to complete their assignment. I can't work like this. This isn't team work. It's me taking care of sixty frail, elderly people with three employees actively rebelling against me. The response from administration: The nurse is responsible for the actions, or inaction, of the aides, but has no authority over them.

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