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Recovering in a ‘user-unfriendly’ nursing home

January 17, 2012
by Kathleen Mears
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After being hospitalized for pneumonia and a kidney stone a few weeks ago, I was sent to a sister facility of my current nursing home for antibiotic therapy and isolation. This was confusing, but I had no say in the matter. My current facility's management assured me that few changes had to be made for my accommodations at this facility because there was a private room available.

However, it did not take long for the “little things” to mount up. For instance, my room’s TV had no remote control, which was problematic because of my functional limitations. They also had to bring in my special blow-in call light from my home facility. But since the call light would not properly attach to the bed's headboard, it was quite unreliable.

I was not allowed to stand or get therapy because there were no orders for either. I needed to stand every day, but I was tired and did not have the strength to fight the decision, realizing later that I would pay for my lack of movement.

If I had been in isolation at my current facility, aides familiar with me would have done my care. So standing me may have been less of an issue. I could have slept in my own bed and operated my TV with its remote. I also would have had my power chair and computer available if I wanted to use them.

Now, I understand that facilities need to make the best use of their resources, and a sister facility with an empty private room was an easy fit for my situation. But I think the usability of the sister facility's environment should have been taken into consideration, as dealing with its “user-unfriendliness” specific to my individual needs was stressful.

My current facility’s activity director brought me back last Wednesday. I had not been out of bed in nine days. But she got my clothes together, dressed me and assisted with my transfer into my power chair with two other staff members.

I weakly maneuvered my power chair out of the facility and up the minivan's ramp. Riding sideways in the van made me feel a bit off balance, but the 40 degree weather was wonderful and clean. I got a welcoming hug from a resident's wife, and I headed to my room where I wondered what my weakened state would allow me to do.

A tearful plea for help later resulted in me getting orders for both physical and occupational therapy to recover my strength. I am feeling and moving better but I still need a lot of rest. In the coming weeks the kidney stone will be removed and I hope to feel much better.

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Kathleen Mears

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