Tuesday, March 31, 2009

They don't need to know EVERYTHING

We do like to hear ourselves talk, don't we? How many times in your life have you said something and then wished you could "unsay" it? How many times have you said something and then two days later it came back to you completely different than how you originally meant it?

As much as we may like to talk, we need to remember that the residents are not a receptacle for every bit of verbal garbage that we have. They don't need to know the following:
  • Your sexual orientation.
  • How many baby daddies you have.
  • How you feel about the Nursing Center's administration.
  • All your thoughts on God.
  • Your personal problems.
  • How you feel about the other residents.
  • How you feel about your coworkers.

Seriously. If I told you how many times a resident has told me "So and So said such and such" and then proceeded tell me how upset they felt about it, you'd be amazed. I apologize frequently for the crazy stuff my coworkers say.

If you want to spout off to your coworkers, your friends or your family, knock yourself out. Don't lay it on the residents. They have enough to contend with already.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

O/T Winter Storm in Spring

They had been talking about it for days. Frankly, I thought they were full of beans. There's no way we were going to get 6-12 inches of snow. It's been running about 70 degrees for days and the nights have been warm enough to leave the heaters off.

Shows you what I know.

Friday morning around four, it started thundering and lightning. Then a couple spits of rain. Then a couple spits of hail. Then it sounded like someone was throwing hundreds of golf balls at the house. This lasted a good five minutes. Now, I know hail. I have never experienced hail that lasted more than a minute or two. When it started to slow down, I looked outside. The ground was covered like it had snowed already.

Nothing but clouds and wind all day. Then, it started sleeting at about four in the afternoon. Then big snow flakes blowing sideways. We all made it home from work OK, though they did close the grocery store at eight instead of staying open all night as usual.

Thank goodness I didn't have to go to work on Saturday. The guys had to work at eleven. The wind was so strong, the snow was still blowing sideways. I don't know what our official number was, but it looked darn close to six inches of snow including the hail that was left over from the previous morning.

Today, the snow is half melted. Unfortunately, it looks like someone tried to rip all the leaves off the trees. Poor things, they're just shredded and the ground is littered with little pieces of green confetti.

It's supposed to be 70 tomorrow. I imagine the only remnants will be the mud and the leaf confetti by the time I get home from work tomorrow night.

Friday, March 20, 2009

When overwhelmed, pick a tree.

Let me confess to one of the Seven Deadly Sins: Hubris. I tend to think that I'm an above average worker. When I'm feeling less proud, I could point out all the things that I do wrong or could be doing better, but for the purpose of this blog entry, let's just assume that I really am as good as I think I am. (Ha!)

The past few weeks have been a challenge. I feel like no matter how much good I try to do, it's overshadowed by all the bad going on around me. I know that we're all stressed out over the changes coming down the pike. We're due for "State" to come in for our yearly review, which always causes stress in itself. We have a new Administrator and our DON is stretched to the breaking point. It wouldn't surprise me if I came on here in a month or two and announced that I was getting to know a new DON. We've lost some employees and haven't replaced them with new ones yet. The economy is bad and the sky is falling.

But, ultimately, the goal is to keep our residents as healthy and comfortable as possible. Sometimes you need to buck up and do your job despite the avalanche coming down around you. Somehow, I feel I'm the only one who sees this. The rest seem to just let themselves get buried.

The saying "...can't see the forest for the trees" has negative connotations. However, when the avalanche is rumbling toward you, sometimes focusing on a tree is what will get you through. Concentrating on the details and getting at least one thing done before starting the next will save us from being completely buried.

Today, I'm going to worry about the tree. Eventually, I'll make it through the entire forest. It just may take longer than I originally planned.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finally, I can laugh.

I used to get in trouble for laughing. Apparently, if you're at work, you're not supposed to find anything funny. Now, granted, my laugh is loud and attracts attention but if something's funny, it's funny and I will laugh at it. Even when working at the C-store, I'd get the frowny face from my manager if I started laughing.

At the Nursing Center, I can laugh. Especially if I can get a resident to laugh along with me. Laughter is a good sound and the more smiles, the better.

Yesterday, one of the very confused ladies came over and sat next to us while we were eating supper. She lifted up the edge of the table cloth and tried to look under it.

I said to Aaron, "She's trying to look under your skirts," which scored a laugh from everyone at the table, including the resident and the kitchen staff who were cleaning up around us. This went on for a couple minutes, with the resident still goofing around and us making jokes.

I've never had a job where I've laughed as much as I have at this one.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"She's a great worker, when she comes to work."

The truth of the matter is that no matter how good you are when you're at work, if you only show up for 75% of your scheduled days, you're not a good employee.

We recently lost a CNA because, while she was great with the residents, she would just decide not to come to work for several days at a time. It's a shame, because the residents loved her and she even won Employee of the Month once.

Now, she's gone and I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about it. If her replacement is slightly less wonderful, but shows up all the time, I think I'm willing to make that trade.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interrupting the Grieving Process

When we suffer a loss, we grieve. That's how we work through it and get to the other side so we can keep going. Generally, this starts out with crying.

Most of us are uncomfortable with tears. Not our own, but other folk's. We can cry all we want, but if someone else is crying, we don't know what to do.

Enter Better Living Through Chemistry.

Why is it that our first reaction is to pass out an Ativan or Xanax when a resident is crying? Why can't we just let them cry? I'm not talking about crying that lasts for hours and hours. Then some chemical help is called for. But if a resident gets news that a relative has died, surely we can let them cry for a little bit. When I cry, I don't reach for a pill to help me stop. Most of the time I don't even reach for a beer. (I save that for when I'm angry. Just kidding. Sort of.)

We need to let them go through the whole grieving process, even the crying. Even if it makes us uncomfortable, a hand to hold will do as much or more than a pill and with less side effects. It's OK to cry. And it's OK to feel uncomfortable when someone else is crying. We don't need to interrupt the grieving process unless it's negatively affecting the residents health.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"It's all about love...

...and not about money." Rose by Buckcherry

OK, so that song has nothing whatsoever to do with being a CNA. But that line is the exact truth. The folks that get into this line of work for the money are many and few of them last long. You have to want to do it if you're going to stick with it for more than a couple of months. If money is your only motivation, you won't be happy being a CNA.

On the other hand, if you get a charge out of helping people, this is the job for you. If customer service of any kind rings your bell, you don't get more service oriented than being a Nursing Assistant. If knowing you've comforted someone or lent a sympathetic ear makes you happy, come on over. We can always use good people who don't mind taking a little crap in exchange for the joy you feel when you've helped someone feel better.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I walked into a resident's room the other night to give them their medicine.

"Hi, Miss Jane. I've got some medicine for you," I said.

"Meet Miss Jones," she said. "The woman..." Pregnant pause. "...without a coat."

This is probably a location joke, but I nearly burst out laughing. You would have thought that she was missing a limb. I did try to help her look for it. And we notified Housekeeping to be on the lookout for it, too.

On the other hand, our resident's have already lost everything: Their homes, their independence, their health. A coat seems like a small thing. I'd just go buy a new one. To them, it's a metaphor for what their life has become: a series of small losses that have left them with nothing worth having.

We can make all the noise we want about making them feel needed and wanted and useful, but the bottom line is we can never replace what they had, however little it may have been to begin with. It sounded like melodrama, but she's really just in mourning.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

No one ever thinks they'll end up in a Nursing Center

Truly. Most people figure that one day they'll just drop dead (hopefully later rather than sooner). Yet, as my instructor pointed out to me, we're all just a car accident away from lying in one of those beds ourselves.

The point of this blog post? To hell with: "would you want your momma treated that way?" That could be you in that bed. Treat them all the way you want to be treated when it's your turn. If you're lucky, good Karma will outweigh bad when it comes time to pay the Piper.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Can't we all just get along?


Our first responsibility is always to take care of the residents. But our second responsibility should be to take care of each other. Most of us are not working in a vacuum. We rely on our coworkers to show up and work alongside us so our residents are as comfortable as they can be. There's no benefit in deliberately doing things that make the job harder for the next shift. Hell, on any given day, there are things that we want to do that don't get done to make the next shift easier. Going out of our way to make the next shift harder is stupid and harmful to the residents.

What a dumb thing to be blogging about. This sounds like the kind of crap that goes on in high school. Yet, it's not. In fact, the people involved are all over 30 years old. If that doesn't frighten you, it should. It frightens me to realize that we never mature mentally beyond age 15.

My goal is always to leave work with everything and everyone in the same or better condition than when I came on shift. I don't want the folks on the next shift to groan when they come in and see me. I want them to know that they can rely on me to do my best. And when I don't make my goal, I apologize. I also sometimes offer to help them set things to rights so that they won't be completely miserable and overwhelmed.

If we take care of each other, the residents will also be better taken care of and that can do nothing but good for us as a Nursing Center.