Posted on April 12, 2011 - by Nurse Virginia
The night before the big “event” (taking mother out of the nursing home to a restaurant for a family celebration) we selected Mom’s clothes and hung them outside her closet door for the staff who would be getting her up the next day.
Saturday morning we went back to the nursing community for a final run through of the evening plans. Mother was dressed in the chosen clothes, but at breakfast, she spilled food all over the front of her outfit. Again, we notified the staff by speaking directly with the caregiver, as well as the nurse. “Please pass this information on to the evening shift,” I said. I pointed out the new clothing we had hung outside the closet.
“Yes, we’ll do that,” the supervisor assured me.
While Mother took an afternoon nap, we went to our hotel. We felt such a sense of relief: Everything was ready. Just to make sure, we arrived at the nursing community an hour earlier than planned. There sat Mother, up early from her nap and re-dressed in her breakfast encrusted clothes. I notified the nursing assistants. “Mother is going out with the family for dinner.”
The nursing assistant turned to my mother and, with her fingernail, scraped at the stained food. “Do you want to be changed, Verona?”
Before mother could answer, I knew where the conversation was headed. If she said no, the assistant would insist. “If she doesn’t want to be changed, she doesn’t have to change.” She might also remind me of my mother’s rights. The matter of rights is like the proverbial two-edged sword, and the staff can be very savvy in using it. If the nurse or assistant stands over a resident and uses a tone that indicates wanting and agreement, the elder can be easily intimidated into cooperation with the staff.
“Do you want to be changed?” the assistant asked again.
“Yes, I want to change,” Mother said, to my surprise.
“We will get back to you when we have time, the nursing assistant answered, as she walked away.
(Book excerpt: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance)
Virginia Garberding, R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance
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