Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Rampant Infections and Falls In Long Term Care Facilities Possible Causes

The State and the Federal Government "collect" statistics on the elderly in Long Term Care. Unfortunately, they don't collect the reasons for the problems, especially the rampant infections and falls. 

Come walk with me and see what I saw and see.  Open your eyes and then open your computer and let the world know what goes on behind the closed doors of many "average" Long Term Care Facilities.


CNA's move from room to room, resident to resident, assisting one and then another without washing hands or putting on gloves.

Food is delivered to a room by someone who simply picks up a tray and may handle plates, glasses and cups, utensils and even pieces of food or even assist a resident with eating without going first to wash or clean their hands.

Toilets are used by roommates who have infections and disease without any wiping or other cleaning in between uses by one or the other resident.

Toilets are often left without attendance or cleaning after a resident "has an accident".

Walkers and wheelchairs are seldom cleaned and evidence of fecal material or the smell of urine can be noticed sometimes from a distance but usually through close examination without the resident in place.

Handles on walkers and wheelchairs are often loose, brakes don't hold or lock securely by older hands that do not have the strength to engage the locks.

Placement of a roommate limited to a Gerry Chair used as a barricade forcing the other resident to remain in a chair or other fixed placement.

Dining trays left in rooms for hours after the resident has finished and allowing a resident with Dementia to eat food that may have spoiled causing intestinal distress and even infection.

Dirt and grime in places usually unseen -- behind furniture, under beds, behind curtains.

Thorough cleaning of rooms limited to once a year.

Thin blankets placed on the beds of aged residents living in a room with large windows where they sit or sleep nearby.

Call buttons disconnected from the wall or often just pulled loose enough so they don't connect.

Relocating call buttons for Dementia patients -- moving to another side of the bed, clipped in another area. Confusing and challenging for those who can think clearly let alone those with memory difficulties.

Teeth seldom brushed. Dentures seldom removed for thorough cleaning. 

Hearing aids placed in pockets of CNA's uniforms when giving a shower and then "gone" to the resident who needs them so desperately.

Limiting movement.  Restricting. 
A form of restraint without tying someone down.
Punishing for asking the wrong question, speaking up about something or speaking out.

Once or twice a year inspections that are anticipated or expected hide the reality of these places of residence no one would chose if they truly had the choice.

Socks and shoes hide peeling skin, sores and maybe even bruises.

A cut or bruise? Are you told as we were the resident fell but there was nothing to worry about. No Xray, no Dr's visit and there's a visible gash or huge black and blue mark.

Food brought to the floor sitting for an hour or more without benefit of a steam table or refrigeration.

Residents being fed, two or more at a time by the same attendant who wipes their mouths, breaks bread or handles food first for one and then for another -- and we wonder about those germs that run rampant in facilities?

Forced isolation through not attending to a light or call for help. Those "in their right minds" soon find the facility has ears and eyes and sees and hears everything and there WILL be repercussions from some staff.

Showers given at 10 PM or even later with residents woken from sleep because the staff had the time and the resident "wanted the shower" that day.

Privacy is a luxury in a shared room with a constantly open door. Men live across from women. Some have lost the ability to understand what being dressed completely or even at all means.

Medications that leave otherwise cognizant people slumped in chairs or constantly sleeping.

Lifts used on residents without the upper body strength or grip to "hold on" or "hang on" and subjected to one person trying to hold up the person while trying to manuever them. 

And you're told your loved one "fell"?  Actually, she/he was dropped.

This and more are what men and women go through every day in many Long Term Care Facilities. 

Walking through the entry, into the common area, or even visiting in one room and spending an hour or two won't always give you access to seeing the reality, the harsh truth of how human beings who contributed and provided for themselves and others are now treated.

Abuse? Neglect? Staff that's overworked and exhausted?

Sadly, this is happening in facilities everyday and it will continue until we open their doors wider and ensure there is more public connectivity and supervision.

Where do we look for the answer? How about down the halls on the main floor and inside the offices at this facility and at the headquarters of the owners of the business or organization.

As with places we may work, management and ownership write the rules and regulations, they either enforce or look away, run an honest and caring facility or one that could care less.

What can be done? Speak Up, Speak Out. Most of all, those of you who don't go to visit someone in a facility, make a New Year's Resolution early and "adopt" an older resident of a facility. Visit. Listen. Learn. Observe.

Then raise your voice. Use the tech tools of the internet and ask the hard questions and make the statements about what you've seen and heard. 

If Not Me, Then Who . . . . ask yourself. 

The clock is ticking. If you're "lucky" enough to live to that really old age or have the misfortune to become incapacitated, you, too will have the "pleasure" of being a resident of Long Term Care. 

We're all busy with lives of our own but we cannot afford to ignore the challenges of eldercare.

Tomorrow is just a day away!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments and any additional information we can research and pass on to others. Together we learn and grow.