Sunday, October 6, 2013

Social Work in a nursing home

What does a day as a Social Worker in a nursing home look like?  I did not say typical day because there is no such thing as a typical one.  Each day is unique in itself.

First thing in the morning, all nursing homes have a morning meeting.  This is with the department heads, all of them, so the administrator has an idea what each department will be doing that day.  It also gives the administrator a chance to tell any department if they want something looked into or done.  Literally, each department head, when it's their turn, says what they will be doing.  Mostly I found it a time for nurses to ask if Social Services could change someone's room, for whatever reason, or if a resident requested a change.  Many times nurses expected us to convince a resident to change rooms or accept a room mate.   Whenever we got a new resident, the facility didn't place people together who might be compatible, they just looked for an empty bed.  As you can imagine, many residents were not happy over that situation.  This is one reason NO nursing home should have two people to a room.  Someone doesn't get a window and probably no access to the existing windows.  Many times you will face irate relatives who do not want their loved one's room changed, or who does not like the room mate.

Changing a room is not just a simple task either, you have to get a permission paper signed by either the resident or the responsible person, which is not always easy.  Then you have to place a copy of the paper in the chart and chart the reason why.  Even with the new electronic paperwork, it still has to be filed someplece and charted.

An example of charting:  Resident requested a room change due to:  then you fill in the blank.  I always charted what resident said or did, or what their responsible person said or did.  Mostly state examiners only care how the resident views things.

A behavior example:  Resident is distraught and complained about (fill in blank) or resident got into a shouting match with room mate, or hit another resident.  The hitting is where it can get complicated.  You Must check on the one who got hit, plus the hitter.  Maybe the hitter has dementia and didn't know better, or just has a bad temper.  You absolutely have to follow up, talk to the hitter, then check on the one who got hit.  You have to write what you did, and will do, to prevent anymore incidents.  Usually the nursing home's solution is to drug the hitter.

As a Social Worker you absolutely have to know when a resident's psychotropic medication is changed.  This can get tricky if the nurse asks for a change and does not bother to tell you about it.  This can happen in the middle of the night, without your knowledge.  You should be sure you have a form and request a nurse Always makes it out whenever there is a change.  Good luck on that one.  But if you do not know and do not chart it, believe me, You will be held responsible for not knowing, nurses usually toss you under the bus.

You have to know, because once a powerful psychotropic med is started, then You have to  ask, that nurses request the doctor to reduce it until gradually, the resident is off the med.  Then you have to chart if the resident is doing fine without it or not.  If not, you must have the doctor write why the person has to have the meds.  Crazy, isn't it?  Yup, it is.  Then You have to describe how resident acted without the sometimes needed, medication.  

I'm going to Warn you, in a Medical Model nursing home, staff feels it is easier to medicate a difficult person than it is to try other alternatives.  There usually Are other alternatives, but they take team work and cooperation from other departments. 

I don't tell you this stuff to scare you off.  But I think every Social Worker deserves to go in with eyes wide open.

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