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[WTB] Care ? for the Elderly

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posted on Dec, 8 2011 @ 08:28 AM
I have long been concerned about the care of the elderly. Often there is some scandal or another in the newspapers, either about the poor care received by patients in residential homes or about the abuse they receive from carers who visit them in their own homes.

A few years ago I shared a house with a young man who was a carer and was often horrified by his stories of what went on in the residential home where he was working.

Things got so bad that I eventually asked him not to tell me any more because it made me so unhappy to think of the poor treatment these elderly human beings were receiving.

This man, S__, would tell his stories to me, and our other house-mate, obviously expecting us to laugh or to support him when he complained about his work load. When he saw how disgusted we were he would backtrack and say 'Not really' or 'Oh they like me more than the other carers'.

He had no medical training or qualifications and had sought a job in the care home because he failed to find the work for which he was trained. Prior to training for his desired career he had been a rent boy.

I never minded about his past, I wasn't prepared to judge a person harshly because of something like that. What I hadn't been prepared for is that it seems to take a certain venal mentality to see everyone you come across as a potential money source and be prepared to fleece them in whatever way you can. Everybody he met had the potential to be exploited in the most ruthless ways he could devise.

I was the victim of his lack of scruples and I'm still waiting to recover the many hundreds that he owes me. I'm too stubborn to give up, but think it's unlikely that someone as work-shy, manipulative and plain selfish as he is will ever voluntarily do the decent thing and pay me back.

He spent many hours trawling the web for potential 'money sources' and did, indeed, find a few lonely and gullible victims. Lucky me, one such source gave him enough money to cover some of the outstanding bills.

This then was the person a local care home saw fit to employ to look after vulnerable elderly people. Of course, he passed any official checks because he'd never been caught in his 'other' activities and, sadly, there seems to have been no requirement to take a personality test to see if he had a suitable temperament for this type of work.

At the time he got the job I was unaware of his true, nasty nature and commented more than once how lucky the residents would be to have a caring person like him to look after them. I thought his attitude to my remarks was a little odd, and started to become suspicious that maybe they wouldn't be so lucky after all.

I started to make a few other suggestions, hoping to encourage him to be more kindly in his outlook, but was met with the same nasty smirk.

One of the first things I found out about his work was that he, an unqualified and barely trained person, was required to help the old ladies get undressed at night and help them into bed.

It became apparent that he could just walk into their rooms in the evenings, from the first shift that he ever did, and demand that they let him help them. These vulnerable old ladies couldn't argue because it was his job and they were expected to co-operate.

I don't care how elderly these women were, I cannot and will not see any justification for the managers of that home requiring them to let a young man they had never met before undress them for bed. No introduction, no standing on ceremony, just get on with it. And he not even a proper nurse.

He told me once about two old ladies trying to help each other with their clothes, insisting that they could do it themselves. That they'd rather do it themselves. He was very dismissive towards them, apparently, and insisted on doing the job for them despite their protests.

On another occasion he'd passed a couple of old ladies who were standing in a doorway and they'd complained that he was rude. Apparently, he'd brushed or barged past them. I asked what was wrong with saying 'Excuse me, please' and was rewarded with a look of utter outrage and incomprehension. He had no idea of even the basic rules of being polite to the elderly and vulnerable people in his care. It surprised me because he wasn't habitually rude around other people, from my observation, so his contempt appeared to be reserved for those in his charge.

Besides helping with the dressing and undressing of the old ladies, one of his responsibilities was to change their incontinence pads. A job he didn't relish, for obvious reasons.

I ask, is it necessary for these old ladies to suffer the indignity of a young man changing them? Why, just why, could not that job be performed by the female staff?

Does anyone really want their beloved mother or grandmother being forced to give that sort of intimate access to her body to a young, unqualified, uncaring man who sees his job of looking after her as an inconvenience? One whose previous jobs didn't include caring for the elderly? Someone with hardly any training except for what he could learn on the job.

He literally walked into that home one evening to start his first shift and went straight into their rooms demanding that they allow him to put them to bed.

The night staff, by his account, were lazy and bordering on incompetent. The day staff made many complaints about coming into work in the morning and having to perform tasks that had been neglected by them.

I don't know if the day staff were aware that one of the perks of working at night was that one team member could sleep throughout their shift, with the other staff covering for them. They used to take it in turns to have a night where they could sleep, so it's hardly surprising that work was being left undone when they were one person short each shift.

Of course, the residents suffered because of this. The staff who worked the night shift were rushed and had no time to be delicate.

One night a resident died in her bed. She was considerably younger than the others but needed to be watched carefully. She either broke her neck whilst she was moving in or out of bed or suffocated, I forget which. It appears that the staff were negligent and not doing their job of supervising her properly. Afterwards they were reluctant to talk about it and all were trying to avoid having the blame pinned on them.

One of the old male residents was known to wander about and, due to his dementia, had become a danger to the female patients. It seems that he wasn't supervised closely enough, either.

On S__'s first night at the home he was 'shown the ropes' by a supervisor who told him things that the staff were or weren't supposed to do. She blithely told him that she regularly broke those rules and seems to have ensured that he knew all the little dodges too. Some of the doors which were supposed to be kept locked could be opened using spoons – don't ask me how – and staff who were not supposed to access certain areas were able to open these doors for themselves. I suspect that, on occasion, they were careless about closing them properly, allowing patients to roam about the building. Including the man who was a danger to women.

I felt particularly sorry for one old lady who used to object to being (roughly) got up in the morning. It was the night staff's responsibility to waken the residents and get them up and dressed.

Every morning one or two of them would go into her room and she'd ask for 'Just a minute' more in bed. Because they were rushed they'd deny her the minute and insist on hauling her out of bed.

That poor woman, who was paying to be looked after in that home, was going to spend the rest of her life wanting just a little more time in bed in the morning and being denied it.

I could have cried for her, but her circumstances changed. Her husband came to live in the home and I clearly remember S__ complaining that the staff were having to be more careful about the way they treated her due to his presence.

How utterly appalling. What a horrible admission. They had to stop their bullying of a frail old lady because, finally, she had someone there who would stand up to them.

I'm glad to say that S__ didn't last very long at that job and left after some acrimony. But I've not much confidence that anyone who replaced him would have a kinder attitude, having heard about the behaviour of the other staff on his shift.

Some of the people in the home I am describing were suffering from dementia and I wonder if they might be the lucky ones in that they wouldn't have noticed so much how their lives had deteriorated. Seen just as another source of income, they'd be allowed to sit about all day with little to do and a largely uncaring staff to look after them.

I had a reason to call in at the home one day and was confronted by a note on the front door. It informed me that all visitors should enter at their own risk as they had an epidemic at the time.

It seems to me that the elderly are just becoming and industry and are being milked for everything that can be wrung out of them.

They are paying for this, at best, indifferent care and it would be wise if persons from younger generations would speak out about it. Or we'll all end up the same way.

I'm serious, we have lost most of our manufacturing jobs to other countries so how else can work be provided? No-one is allowed to die these days. People have their lives prolonged and have no quality of life that we would recognise.

I do understand that caring for elderly people can be a demanding job. It's certainly not a career that I would choose for myself. But, surely, the highest possible standards of care should be maintained? These people are paying for the treatment they receive and should be treated with respect. Anyone purchasing a service is entitled to expect to be treated as a valued customer.

I don't want to spend my final days, weeks, months or years being bullied in a care home. I have no shame in saying that I'd rather be cast adrift on an ice floe before I'd want to be shut up in a home living my life according to the schedule of staff I was paying to look after me.

I remember some time ago when a friend visited her mother in a care home. She'd had to give up caring for her and had reluctantly put her in the home. She said her mother couldn't even have a cup of tea when she wanted one.

That upset me, to think of just sitting about thirsty and no-one being able to find the time to make me a drink. But I could never have been prepared for the stories that S__ used to tell me.

So here we are in a society where the elderly have become just another resource to be exploited. Prolong their lives with expensive medicines and charge them a fortune to live in care homes where the 'care' they receive falls far short of anything I'd recognise as care.

A society where life at any cost is the norm. Never mind the quality or lack of it, let's just insist that people keep on living.

One day it could be us being bathed and dressed by poorly trained, rude and hurried staff. It could be us living in a home full of strangers and only seeing our families for the few hours a week or month that they can spare us from their busy lives. It could be us being fed poorly cooked food at mealtimes and left without refreshment at other times because staff cannot or will not find time to tend to us. It could be us who are being hauled out of bed every morning before we're even properly awake.

Well, I don't want it to be me. I don't want some politician or another rubbing their hands gleefully over my poor old body, counting up what I'm worth in keeping the unemployment figures down. Or what I'm worth to the drug companies who, I strongly suspect, may be behind many of the objections to voluntary euthanasia.

I know there's more to me than just this body and I don't want to inhabit it when it wears out. I'll leave, quite happily and go on to pastures new. Life at any cost? Not my life, you money-grubbing low-lifes. I'll be gone long before you can pick me clean.

Postscript – I happened to walk past the home I'm writing about yesterday, during my loooong hike into town. It had been closed and was up for sale. I don't really feel like rejoicing, it can be traumatic for elderly people to be moved from a place they have become used to. I suppose I have to hope that they all went to a better place.

posted on Dec, 8 2011 @ 08:52 AM
I echo your concerns, and thanks for posting this.
Something we don't dare discuss, or burden ourselves with thinking it, either because its too harsh to visualize, or we simply can't believe its happening - won't believe.

If for no other reason that we all potentially share the same futures if we get to live to or senior years, or if an accident or sickness takes our care into one of these facilities, we should all be concerned.
(I know you are speaking of a care home, I just wanted to note that I've seen far too many young people residing in nursing homes...)

As a society we will be judged on how we looked to the young, the vulnerable, and the elderly. Was it Ben Franklin who said something like that--?

As I've read on this site, there are 2 types of people - those of service to self, and those of service to others. To see how our brains are wired differently is something else (lack of better words).

How the (former) worker and his co-workers could sleep at night, on shift or off, is beyond disgusting.

Very thankful there is karma, or the universal law, or how ever it is termed... what goes around comes around. You can see it in action, although some times it doesn't appear to happen fast enough.

I was relieved to see the care home closed.
Today I will pray, or send good vibes, or how ever it is termed, to all those in care of others.

This needs to be discussed more,
for posting.
edit on 8-12-2011 by ItsEvolutionBaby because: incomplete sentence

posted on Dec, 8 2011 @ 09:27 AM
Great post, and S&F for sure. I have much experience in this area. For one, when I was younger, I worked as a sitter for a 91 year old lady who was so frail, I had to pick her up out of bed and move her to her wheelchair or recliner (she had to hold on to me and "shuffle") She was so frail, and only weighed 82 lbs. Her family decided to keep her at home, but never went in the room to see her or anything....just turned her care to me (emotional and physical). She had dementia, and her family was like "well she doesn't know we are here or who we are anyway". After being with her a while, I noticed that, though this was true, she could remember some things. When I first started there, she would just lie in bed staring off into space. But something told me that she was just very depressed. I made a point to establish trust with her.....every morning I would hug her when I got there, and ask her if she had any good dreams the night before. At first, no response....but after a while, she opened up, and would start telling me things about her life growing up. Eventually, she changed from a sad almost comotose person, to a sweet wonderful lady who greeted me with a smile every morning. After I started the "hug" greeting each day, she would be in bed stretching out her arms to me for that hug before I got in the door LOL. The point of all this is.....many elderly patients, especially with dementia, are just cast aside. The have no interaction, no human touch....nothing but lying in bed. They become depressed, and the family can't deal with it (also, dementia patients will have times when they are demanding, and unrealistic, throwing temper tantrums etc) The family places them in a home, thinking they will get great care....but think about it.....if THE FAMILY has trouble dealing with it, and feels frustrated and angry, imagine how someone with little training and no emtional bond to the patient will react? It's so sad. The answer to this is to DEMAND that ANYONE who works with these patients recieve training, not only in basic care, but empathy and maybe a little course in the thought process of dementia and how to react to it. There should be cameras in EVERY room, and employees should be fired on the spot for even treating a patient disrespectfully. If a worker is even SUSPECTED of mistreating a patient, they should be made to take time off with pay UNTIL it is proven otherwise....and not only fired if true, but put on a list to be distributed to all nursing homes, so they may not work in such a place ever again. Even dementia patients have feelings.....they are very childlike, and must betreated with sensitivity and love. Many times, they are aware of what's happening to their mind, and are embarrassed by it. I know sometimes families have no choice but to place their loved ones in a facility, and I understand....people cannot care 24/7 for them......but if it happens.....check the place to not only the administration, but ask to walk around and interact with staff AND patients. If it's a good place, you will know by seeing and talking to patients. Thanks again for bringing this's a VERY important issue....and one we will all face someday. Sorry this is so long, but I have strong feelings on this subject.

posted on Dec, 8 2011 @ 10:27 AM
In my city, it's possible to volunteer at a number of these places, especially if you're young. Now, i realize there were concerns about young males serving older ladies, but for obvious reasons volunteers are not put into these positions.

The benefits of volunteering in these care centres are twofold. Fist of all, you're there for the patients, and if you truly feel the concern expressed in this thread, then you'll likely be a good person for the patients to have around them.

Second of all, and perhaps more importantly depending on your viewpoint, you're there for the staff. If you're there, in the building, you have immense power just via the ability to keep the staff in check and on their toes. If there are any problems, the fact that you volunteered there will make you report that much more valid, sadly more valid than the word of patients at times.

If you're unable to volunteer directly within the facility, there are many programs, such as food delivery or other causes that make semi-regular visits to care centres. Or, you could always just come as a visitor, perhaps ask if you could talk or read to, paint for them. Literally any visit can break the monotony of their lives, and any visit could be the one that saves them from abuse.

I encourage you to act.

posted on Dec, 8 2011 @ 10:50 AM
reply to post by Ladon

Great advice. But even the volunteers should be made to take mandatory classes before working there. These people are so utterly defenseless, they need protection. It's my belief that most people are good, but it only takes one. But yes, more people should I said, one day we will be where they are, and we have much to learn from them. They deserve respect and loving care.....and our protection.

posted on Dec, 9 2011 @ 07:56 AM
reply to post by berenike

Thank you for posting your story. Well-written and your compassion shines. Very important issue to highlight, in my opinion.

posted on Dec, 9 2011 @ 09:08 AM
reply to post by berenike

Absolutely brilliant piece there.

What I also don't understand is that if our parents spend years and years of their life looking after us, surely we should return the's not even a favour, it's family. So bunging them into a carehome because you can't be bothered to look after's not right. Yes, possibly if one can't cope if they have a certain disease...(though to be honest, I still would look after them)...

And you know what, people these days have no respect for their elders either...and that's just a sad sad effect of modernised society.

posted on Dec, 9 2011 @ 05:49 PM
Thanks for the replies, everybody.

I have done some charitable work in the past, including visiting an elderly man who had been widowed and was very lonely by himself.

Unfortunately, I'm not the most socially 'ept' of people and find socialising with strangers quite daunting. I'm happier in a working environment and last year I did some voluntary work for a local charity over several months. I was living in a less remote place then, on a more reliable bus route. The way things are now, it would be difficult for me to undertake anything similar.

Back in Town, I was working for an elderly employer up until nearly four years ago. One thing you can't help but notice when you spend time around older people is how much sickness and death they have to deal with.

Many of The Boss's family, friends and acquaintances were of a similar age to her and it was commonplace to hear of someone being ill, needing an operation or just having to have 'tests'.

Several people died during the time I worked there and it was quite often me who had to break the news to her. She'd be out and I'd take the phone calls with the bad news. I was lucky in that no-one died too unexpectedly and she had a very matter-of-fact attitude to it.

One thing we did notice was that people rarely died 'alone'. Once one had gone, two or three more would follow over the course of a few weeks. We'd always wonder who would be next.

I used to help with the Christmas card list every year and would discreetly remove the names of those friends she had lost. Since I've been gone I know of four people who would now be 'off' the list.

Two who died and two we 'lost' to Alzheimer's, which is harder for me to take in than people dying. I'd ask: What? so and so? she's in a home now? what, really no hope? It's difficult to accept that someone can't be 'salvaged'.

One of those with Alzheimer's is our lovely old cleaning lady. She and I used to have a laugh and a lot of fun. Not always, though. One day she shattered into smithereens The Boss's most prized ornament, a rare and beautiful souvenir from Abroad.

Telling the boss was worse than telling her that someone had died. She came bouncing into the house, eager to tell me what she'd been up to and saw my ashen face. 'You've got something to tell me, haven't you?' she asked.

The friend I mentioned, who had to put her mother into a residential home, is elderly herself and that was part of the reason she had to opt for the care home.

She's the mother of a friend of mine, who stayed with me for a while when he moved to Town. He and I used to go to gigs and clubs together and I think she was grateful that he had someone responsible to go out with. We used to go to some right dives, too, but we were both teetotal and our idea of getting wasted was pretty much coming home with aching feet because we could never find anywhere to sit while we were out.

He died this summer and his mother had the difficult job of telling me. Besides that her husband has had two serious operations over the last year.

I do my best to be supportive of people, but they're all very far away now. All I can do at this distance is talk on the phone or write letters.

Anyway, it's obvious that old age is about the most difficult stage of life. Even if one is reasonably fit and healthy it must be hard to see so many others, people who may have been part of one's life for many years, suffer in the way they do.

posted on Dec, 11 2011 @ 02:17 PM
reply to post by berenike

Your post is one of the reasons I like you so have a good heart and I applaude you for trying to make a difference

posted on Dec, 14 2011 @ 10:15 AM
Please, people, if you know of injustices in care homes or group homes or hospitals - call your local ombudsman or even your local government and file a formal report. We are the only ones who can stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

I have seen some of these atrocities first hand. It is disheartening and disgusting that so many people are treated as if they aren't worth the air they breathe. One of the reasons that the (basic) caregivers in homes whose funding comes largely from the state are so shady is that these jobs are available to pretty much anyone who can pass a background check and get the "proper" certification.

All it takes, in my state, to get a registered nursing assistant certificate (to be an in-home caregiver) is one 8 hour class on rules and regulations and blood/body precautions - no testing, no training on how to assist patients... nothing. Luckily, the certified nursing assistant license requires several weeks of training and a state-monitored test to complete, but it still doesn't change the fact that a lot of people are just there for the paycheck.

Even at the higher level, skilled nursing, where everyone has completed 2+ years of training and has a state or federally recognized license, you will find unscrupulous people.

In the state I used to live in, CA, it was incredibly rampant and people were so jaded that they would just turn a blind eye to the abuse.
It was so sad to see, and I would take every opportunity to do what I had to do to help the patients. As a result, people at the state hospital I worked would "shun" or "hate" me, confront me for being a "rat", etc. I would always stand my ground and let them know I would not back down, no matter what.

Really, as a mandated reporter and nurse, I was just doing my job and actually following the rules. The rules were openly ignored by most and the "tenured" employees who had been working at the facility for 40+ years were the absolute worst about it.

I really couldn't care what they thought. I was there for the patients, not to have a social life at work.

In all honesty, I would never want to associate with people who could mistreat, rob, physically abuse, mentally abuse, verbally abuse, rape, neglect patients just because the patients can't or are afraid to complain. In some cases, I was the only one who would dare to stand up and be an advocate for the patient's basic rights. The new nurses and nursing assistants straight out of training would come in and be indoctrinated to "the way things are done", and the cycle would continue.

It is heartbreaking.

Again, if you know of abuse - PLEASE SPEAK UP.

Thank you very much for posting this thread.

posted on Dec, 17 2011 @ 06:25 PM
reply to post by ottobot

....and thank YOU for your post and standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

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