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The care conundrum

September 26, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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On a Monday several weeks ago, Gillian's* family came into the dining room at breakfast to visit. Then they were talking in the TV room beside the nurses' station. Then, they moved to the nurses' station and stood there, waiting.  But on this Monday, the nurses and aides were going here and there and did not seem to notice Gillian's family. Then, Gillian came walking up to the nurses' station unassisted.

When an aide walked by, Gillian's family approached her. I heard them say that they came on Saturday to take Gillian out. But her nurse said Gillian was unsteady walking and was falling, and she did not feel she should go out. Two days later, they wondered why Gillian was walking by herself.

The aide said she had not worked the weekend and did not know what had occurred. She said she would get the nurse manager to address their questions.

As I watched all of this unfold, I realized how difficult it must be to keep track of the particular resident's care continuum. I saw Gillian have trouble walking and knew she had fallen frequently. A nurse or an aide had been walking with her to prevent her from falling.

I knew they could check the chart notes for Saturday. I also knew Gillian's nurse made the decision for Gillian to stay in based on the facts she had that day. There was no way to undo it or rethink what she had done the following Monday.

I do not know if Gillian's family ever got an answer that satisfied them. It is unfortunate that anxiety was felt by her family. I know the nurses and aides wanted to assist her family to understand why she was being treated differently two days later.

To me, the only thing that made sense was that facts about a particular resident can change and that can cause their treatment to change, too. However, I can certainly understand why this it was confusing to family members.

*Name has been changed


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...