Even though some of the nurses and people that care for the disabled and the elderly are doing a good job, there is still need for improvements. Some people’s stay in Rehab Centers and Nursing Homes are short lived and they are able to return to their homes and to their loved ones; others are there much longer, for months or years and some for a life time. If you work at a Rehab Center or Nursing Home, do your best to make these people’s resident a pleasant dwelling place. Help give them a feeling of security and a sense of pride.
If you are a nurse, a nurse assistant or aide; a therapist or a volunteer worker or any person who works at a Rehab Center or Nursing Home and caring for other people; imagine yourself in that person’s place. Imagine being in a wheel chair and not being able to go to the bath room on your own; or dress yourself; or get a glass of water. Imagine not being able to feed yourself. Imagine having to depend on others for things that used to come natural to you in every day living. Imagine one day being able to laugh, talk and walk and the next day it has all been taken away from you due to illness or a severe injury; imagine lying in a bed paralyzed and needing to depend on others to help you take a bath, go to the bathroom, brush your hair or to feed you. If you do this; you will probably go to work having a lot more respect for the people that you are caring for.
Treat these people with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Help give them a sense of security and hope. Their wish in life was not to be depended on another person; they don’t want to be a burden to someone. I’ll bet every one of them wish they didn’t have to depend on others. I’ll bet they wish they were independent and able to care for themselves. Remember they are just like you, they are just disabled or elderly or both; they deserve your respect and they deserve to be treated with dignity. They are somebody’s loved ones, somebody’s mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother, and somebody’s child. One day you may wake up and find yourself in need of someone to lean on. Be the type of person that you would like to lean on.
Some patients including a patient that has suffered a major stroke may not be able to speak at all, some may be able to say very few words and they may speak in a very low and sometimes slurred voice. Listen to the patient; do your best to understand what they are trying to say to you. If a patient can’t speak; he or she may be able to jot something down; ask the patient to write it down on paper for you. Have the patient point to what they may want when possible. Don’t ignore the patient because it is hard to understand what he or she is saying. Be patient as you go through your daily routine. Try to find a way to communicate with that person.
Encourage the center where you work to purchase communication boards or books so the patient can point to things like bathroom, water, etc. Some family members may be willing to purchase one of these items for their loved ones. These communication boards/books come with pictures and text. They are sold online, at a very reasonable price, many under $20.00. It’s not a good idea to pass these items from patient to patient because of infections and germs. You don’t want to pass germs around. So, each patient who needs such an item should have their own.
If a patient needs help to get to the bathroom, please, don’t take forever to get to that patient. Don’t make a person wait 30 minutes before you show up to help him or her to the bathroom. When you have to go, it is uncomfortable holding it for 30 minutes? Yes, you have more than one patient; you are probably assigned to several patients. The center or home where you work may be short of workers; this is not the patient’s problem; if a patient needs help to get out of bed and go to the bathroom, and you feel you are too busy; ask for assistant, don’t make the patient wait 30 minutes. That is a bit cruel.
Use pride when helping a patient get dressed. Don’t put shoes or clothing items backward on the patient. They don’t want to sit or walk around like that and it’s uncomfortable. When a patient wears diapers; don’t take that patient to therapy or to the dinning room to eat with a wet spot on the back of his/her clothes. Remember they are disabled or elderly; however, they still have their pride and it could be embarrassing for the patient and for the center or home when visitors see this kind of treatment.
If a diaper patient has an accident in the diaper, don’t say to the patient, you should have called someone before you went. The diaper means this patient is prone to have accidents. If a patient vomits, don’t have the patient’s family member tell you to bath and change the patient’s clothes and brush the patient’s teeth. Clean this person ASAP.
Be patient and kind. A smile and a kind word go a long ways. Some patients don’t get a lot of visitors, they get bored, lonely and depressed. Do what you can to make their day a little brighter.
If you had a bad day at home and you choose to come to work, suck it up; don’t pass it on to the patient. Use self control, if you were angry with someone when you left home; remember you are not angry at the people you are with and caring for. Kick your anger to the curb and greet your patients with a smile.
When a patient is in therapy and you are the therapist; don’t tell the patient that he/she is not motivated. You are the therapist; you do something to motivate the patient. Make therapy fun and exciting. Do what you can to motivate the patient. Communicate with the patient; it may not be that they are not motivated; maybe there’s a problem. If the patient can’t speak because of a stroke or other illness or injury; it could be he/she need to go to the bath room and can't say so. The patient could be having a bad day or in pain or had a sleepless night. If you feel the patient is not motivated, could be the patient has given up, you need to step in and encourage him/her not to give up. Do what you can to motivate your patient. Always speak to the patient with respect. Never talk down to a patient. Help them to keep a high self esteem.
If you are feeding a patient that’s on a feeding tube, communicate with the patient, if the patient is alert. If the patient shows signs of being uncomfortable or too full; remember you don’t always want the same amount of food all the time. If a patient vomits almost every time after a feeding; let the doctor know what’s going on. Don’t have the patient work out too soon before or after a feeding, this may cause nausea.
Most important, remember you are working with people that is just as important as you, Treat them the way you would want to be treated if the situation was reversed. Always treat these people with respect and dignity. Leave work knowing that you did your very best to make a different in somebody’s life. When you go to bed at night, can you say somebody’s day was a little brighter because of you?