Care-Giving or Care-Taking?
Care-Giving or Care-Taking?
Squeaky shoes down the hall are the only sounds heard besides the coughing. Occasionally, the faint purr of a breathing machine can be heard as well. Suddenly the exclamation of the letter and number combination of “B-14!” booms off the walls. This all encompasses the sweet sounds of the all-too-familiar game, BINGO. The residents, all of the ones in the room over 80, look at their boards. A few seconds later, “O-64!” No one seems to be winning, this could take a while, but when at a nursing home, everything takes a while.
Our Lady of Peace, located in Lewiston NY, is a nonprofit nursing care residence. At OLP, while things move quite slowly at times, it doesn’t seem that the staff or volunteers ever stop; bustling by with carts for the resident’s medicine, cleaning and sanitizing each room. Wheeling patients from room to room, their only job is to make sure the residents are safe and as comfortable as possible. If only other nursing homes and facilities were as precise.
Neglect and elder misuse and mistreatment are, unfortunately, more common than we know of or care to acknowledge. According to most recent studies, 7.6 percent -10 percent of participants experienced abuse in the prior year.
Activities Director Kathleen Dulak discussed how important treatment and care of all the residents are.
“We need to, even as volunteers, make sure everyone is cared for. We have to get a nurse the second someone asks for help,” she states.
Dulak, also in charge of Volunteer Services, stresses to the volunteers and activities staff every morning that any issues heard from residents or families of residents are to be reported directly to her.
The different types of elder abuse vary, some involve intimidation or threats, and others involve neglect or personal theft. Each type has different signs and different consequences. In long-term care facilities, one study interviewed 2,000 nursing home residents and reported that 44 percent said they had been abused and 95 percent said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected. Bottom line is elder abuse is deadly. Even the modest abuse can cause a 300 percent higher risk of death compared to those not abused according to another report.
At the end of each hallway at OLP, there is a fork. Not only in the physical hallway, but in the residents. Some of them thoroughly enjoy the activities, others hate it and would rather sit in their rooms. The activities staff does their best to get everyone active, whether it is watching a movie or playing BINGO.
“Newspapers go out every morning around 9 A.M., and it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the day,” activities staff Michelle Wiring says. “To give the elderly the news of the outside world, and to have them ask questions and discuss things just makes you feel important.”
Beth Midler discusses the activities implemented in the daily life of the residents. Playing games, arts, and crafts, decorating, and more are used to get people involved and active. If the residents are kept involved, and people are constantly watching them no such ignorance can go unnoticed.
“Our activities are to enhance their quality of life,” Midler said while recruiting residents to come to the multi-purpose room for an activity.
OLP, as a nonprofit residence, seems to be financially sound. Other homes aren’t as lucky. But when lawsuits happen for elder abuse, there can be quite a bill. The fact of the matter is, neglect and abuse are wrong. This case of abusing the elderly is equivalent to the abuse of mistreatment of babies. The elderly and babies cannot help themselves in most cases. So for one to take advantage of the helplessness, is simply sick. Nursing homes should see the issues at hand, and like at OLP, it should be the head of staff and the staff’s responsibility of moral and ethical stances to make sure nothing will ever happen in their home.
“The mere thought of anyone hurting old women in a wheelchair or an old man in bed is sickening,” Melissa Brownbur says. Sitting in the cafeteria, the staff is on break.
The tv is on the TV Land channel, and “I Love Lucy” reruns are on. While discussing the idea of elderly abuse, Melissa looks off for a moment before choosing her words that sound something like, being a nurse literally means aiding the sick.
Lunch is happening and residents are being wheeled and rolled every which way. A woman screams for no reason. One of the nurses explains she has dementia.
When caregivers are arrested or taken into custody, the police discover that the mentally ill are targeted for this kind of behavior. The caregivers have the mindset that they don’t know what is happening so might as well profit from it.
Today, everyone shudders at the idea of growing old, even at the idea of getting put into a home. Nursing homes are seen as prisons these days, with negligence and mistreatment of patients. Contrary to popular belief, Our Lady of Peace doesn’t have this issue. Their mission statement of Spirit seems to ring true from an insider’s perspective.