Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Social work in a nursing home

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 Nursing home Social Work does not come without its challenges.  Simply because the nursing home population is so diverse, many people come with their own unique sets of problems.  Some of them that I encountered are as follows:

A)  We had a lady, very sweet and docile, the docile part proved to be a problem.  She had a sister who was mentally ill and, unfortunately, was also her POA (Power of Attorney).  This fact posed problems because: 1) Many times nurses and even doctors, do not understand how these forms should work.  They think a POA has free reign over making decisions for the person involved.  I'm here to tell you, they do not.  In fact a POA is only good if the person for whom it is intended is unable to comprehend simple instructions: i.e. in a coma, has severe dementia, had a stroke and is not coherent.  Remember this as a Social Worker.  That sister thought she could make any decisions she pleased even though the resident was as alert as you and I.

B)  Many times adult children, not wishing to lose their beloved parent, will have their loved one, or in the POA case, the adult child, will sign a resuscitate form instead of a do not resuscitate or DNR.  A resident is allowed to sign whichever one they choose.  But always bear in mind that they also think if a loved one is resuscitated, the person will be good as new.  No, as we grow older there is a big chance we can end up in a vegetative state, or even have to have tubes, wires and the whole 9 yards, which is usually not how most of us care to exist.  Plus, as we grow older, the resuscitation act itself, can break brittle bones, causing even more problems.

C)  One of the most difficult residents to deal with is the person who absolutely doesn't want to be in the nursing home.  Traditional nursing homes are not appealing to very many people.  I can see their point.  Convincing the person they should be there because they are unable to care for themselves is very difficult.  You probably can see why.

D)  Nursing homes that place two to a room is another difficult area.  The room mate the facility chooses may not be compatible with the person already there.  I had one lady who was determined that no room mate was acceptable.  She wanted the room to herself and so she would turn up the air conditioning in winter and turn up the heat in the crushing heat of summer.  She would always never allow her room mate to open a window for fresh air either.  My Administrator told me I needed to have the (I want my own room lady) sent out for psych evaluations.  Basically the woman was being mean on purpose and there is no cure for 'bitch.'  I did not see the lady as a bitch, she just acted bitchy to room mates.  I fully understood her position and in a Culture Change nursing home, with one person to a room, this sort of conflict could be avoided easily enough.

I'm hoping this true information will assist new Social Workers in knowing some of the problems they can face in traditional nursing homes.  I do not believe in blowing smoke up your asses.  You deserve the truth.  All the more reason as a Social Worker, to become an agent of change, encouraging traditional nursing homes to become Culture Change ones.  They are better for workers and those living there.

Thanks for reading.