Earlier on in my career I have to say I probably wasn’t as acutely aware of the distress some older people no doubt went through when transitioning from their own home into aged care.
I am now.
This realisation has made me a better nurse, a better listener and a better carer. Now don’t get me wrong I always went above and beyond for the people I cared for, but I guess I didn’t dig as deep to put myself in their shoes. I think about how challenging it must be to not be able to care for yourself, not being able to wash or toilet/feed yourself.
Moving from your own home, your own independence to a place that is like a communal. I personally don’t like living with other people – so I don’t know how I would manage if I was made to move into care. I certainly would hate the fact that anyone would shower me. What an invasion on my privacy.
All these things – are what older people slowly have to get use to overtime. It’s no wonder people can lash out at carers, particularly people with dementia. Imagine some random person walking up to you to change your continence aid – blissfully unaware you had been incontinent. I would probably hit out to. Fight or flight mode – simply protecting yourself.
This realisation has changed the way I care for people. I go in everyday – smiley brightly regardless of how terrible i feel inside, if I’ve had a bad day. It’s not their fault, and just think about their day. Particularly if they don’t have any visitors coming in. They have to wait for someone to come and get them out of bed and feed them.
Ready for conversation – I want to ask them about themselves – their life – reminiscing and let’s see where the conversation takes us. I want to share with them what I’ve been up to – they always like to hear and live vicariously through me.
When I’m showering them I always give them a nice soothing back rub and moisturise their skin. Massage their hands and feet.
Dressing them – let’s make them look clean and respectable. So important… We all like to look good
Clean their room – this is my pet peeve – for god sake peoples – they can’t do it themselves. Is it so hard to do a once over with a cloth. Put things away where needed?
Make sure everything is nearby (including their bell – nursing 101) – water, remote control. It’s amazing how often people walk out the room with these things. It’s no wonder so many falls happen. I don’t care how busy you are, is it so hard? I think not.