One Year On, One Year Strong

She loves to gossip. It doesn’t seem to matter that I dont know who shes talking about. She just likes the company. 
They have the cutest little pup who we joke has a lesbian crush on me. She goes nuts every time I make a visit and I love it. 
Hes not social. Hes more of a come in, do the job and get out, kind of guy. I’m cool with that. 
Shes got to be at least 90 years old. Lives alone, has visitors from time to time. She really and I mean REALLY loves a good cup of coffee. 

Its been a year. One whole year today that I moved my life to this beautiful little city and started 2 brand new jobs not knowing a single soul. I dont regret one day. And there have been hard ones. Tiresome ones. More importantly there have been really really HAPPY ONES, both in my personal and work life. I’ve gotten to know my clientèle. So much so that there will be a mutual missing as I embark on my well deserved vacation this week! It took a year to get here. One whole week with no obligations.

Sadly my other half does not have vacation time. He caught my cold during his week off (hard AND tiresome times).

Sorry I haven’t been updating a lot. I’ve been working or trying not to boil in this blasted heat. Ill try to get it together by September, but no promises.

Safety First

I laughed to myself as I typed in the title for this post; A post I try to do once a year at this time of year in regards to heat safety. I laughed because I am burnt to a crisp after spending 2 days in the sun with out the proper protection. And the funny thing is is that this happens to me EVERY YEAR. And every year I say, nope, NOT next year. It’s embarrassing. But you know what’s NOT funny or embarrassing? Skin cancer. A very real threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I tell you I am PAYING in spades today for my stupidity. Not only do I look like a tomato with raccoon eyes, but I feel like absolute crap.

I like to talk about this not just for OUR safety, but for those we as PSWS take care of. The biggest problem I have in working with seniors in the summer is getting them to drink water. Or any liquid for that matter. Even if you’re not thirsty, I can’t write for words HOW important this is. I’ve seen people faint; become delusional, lethargy and a whole slew of other ailments that could be prevented with one simple trick.

So far this season I haven’t had too many concerns with those that I visit. But EVERY TIME I am there I make a point of emphasizing water, water and MORE water. My clients have told me that drinking a lot is a concern due to incontinence issues. I’d rather a slightly wet pant than a trip to emergency, and once they get that thought through their head they usually comply.

Do any of you have trouble with this as well? If so I’d LOVE to hear your feedback and any tips & tricks you may have.

And remember. Wear sunscreen.

Walk For Alzheimer’s 2016

A week ago today at this time we were tired, sweating buckets, eating water melon & drinking water like it was going to run out. But we were happy. All 140 or so of us who showed up at 10 am ready to walk 5km in 30 degree weather all for a wonderful cause to raise awareness & funds to combat a devastating disease: Alzheimer’s.

My alarm went off at 7:45 am thinking I had enough time to get up, WAKE up and get hyped for the day. Little did I know that my beautiful friend was already here waiting to get pumped with me. Another friend showed up half an hour later & together we pumped ourselves up, tied our laces & put on sunscreen ready to kick Alzheimer’s in the ass.

Well, unfortunately the disease still prevails, with an estimated 747,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer’s since 2007. By 2031, if nothing changes, those numbers are predicted to hit 1.4 million.*

Scary, huh? As a PSW I can’t imagine what my work load will be like. But more importantly, as a HUMAN, I’m worried someone I know will be dealt the horrible blow of a dementia related diagnoses.

I am super super proud to say that our team apswlife raised  $685 for The Alzheimer Society of Perth County, with all proceeds going toward education & research for a cure. Over all Stratford raised over $20,000 & I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to those who could support financially. Thank you to those who could support emotionally & spread the word. A huge, HUGE thank you to my beautiful friends Gloria & Barb who made the trek out here just to walk with me. I can’t ask for better friends.

Can’t wait for next year!

*For more information, please visit alzheimer.ca

Re-neg.

I take it back. I take it all back. Everything negative I could have possibly bitched about – and let’s face it, I don’t see that changing – that takes place while working in LTC. I re-neg 100%.

I have had to take on a second job due to lack of income from working on a casual basis. After exhausting all options available to me – without going out of town, that may be next – I have bitten the bullet and applied for a PSW position working in the community. For anyone that knows me, I swore on a stack of bibles that I would NEVER work in home care again. However, 5+ years have passed & a PSW has to do what a PSW has to do.

To start off on the positive – the work is THERE. Home care is where it’s at, folks. We’re living in an age where people now have the options to receive care in their home. We’re not just talking light house duties & tea with old ladies. We’re talking full on sling-lifts, total care being done right in their residence. Now, not ALL people are privileged to this, but for those with money it is completely possible. I’ve worked with mainly seniors, requiring mild care and mainly assistance with bathing, but I’ve also done work with children and younger adults.
You’re pretty much guaranteed work. Days, evenings or on my Fridays – BOTH. Sorry, that’s not really a positive comment. I’m trying.

However, it’s not my jive. I’ve been at it for almost 3 weeks and I’m surprised I haven’t pulled out ALL my hair yet.

I don’t like bouncing from client to client – because that’s what you do. Sometimes I’m scheduled for a 45 minute shift & other times it’s 3h. Sometimes I’m scheduled for a client that requires minimum care, so after I’m done they want me to leave. Well, fair enough, I wouldn’t want someone loitering in my home just to kill time before their next visit. So I loiter. Usually at Giant Tiger.
The work isn’t easy, which is a huge misconception. As previously mentioned I’ve worked with clients who require mechanical lifts. And from what I recall, those aren’t to be used A LONE, right? I’ve worked with children who have mental issues of varying degrees. And it’s not that I don’t feel for these kids. I do. But that’s NOT what I was trained for. I work with SENIORS. So needless to say I sometimes feel like a fish out of a water there. Then we have the hoarders. These guys make the shows you see on TLC look CLEAN. It’s… well, there are no words. So aside from being disgusted, you want to get the job done but you also NEED to take care of yourself. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but should I ever feel unsafe in ANY WAY in a home of such magnitude of disgust, I’m leaving. And I hope you would to. There isn’t enough emphasise put into the care of the PSW. Oh, that’s a good blog idea!

Today I worked a AM shift in LTC in a dementia unit and I was so happy. It was tiresome. It was heavy duty. But It’s where I’m meant to be. And one of these days, you will see a blog update with immense happiness relishing in the fact that I got a full time or at least a part time position.

One day.

The Future Of The Personal Support Worker

Do we have a future? I think we do. Our profession is constantly taking on more responsibilities delegated to us by RPNs & RNs. The population is aging & will always continue to age and with that inevitably comes illness. Frankly, the job description of a personal support worker isn’t a nice one: we change incontinence garments worn by our clients; we help those who can’t feed themselves by feeding them (sometimes resulting in said meal being spit back to us) and we deal with verbal & sometimes physical abuse from those with (and sometimes without) dementia, just to name a few. So suffice to say people aren’t exactly lining up out the door for our jobs.

Wait. Or are they? Believe it or not they are. PSW programs are becoming more popular and with that the influx of trained workers is constantly increasing. The problem is this: NO ONE is hiring at the rate of PSWs graduating. PSWS are NEEDED but the jobs for us aren’t necessarily there waiting. We’re often hired on a casual or part-time basis to start. As has been painfully stated before, the ratio of PSW to resident is severely disproportionate.

So where do we stand? What’s coming for us?

Come to our conference on April 25th for the details. OPSWA’s President & Founder Miranda Ferrier will be talking about the future of PSWs.

April 25th, Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center
$75 for the entire day including lunch!

For details, please go to opswa.com or check out my previous update here.

ALSO, don’t forget to tune into W5 this Saturday on CTV to see Miranda and OPSWA talk about abuse in LTC.

Gay Seniors Struggling to Find Safe Retirement Housing

Gay Seniors Struggling to Find Safe Retirement Housing

 As a care giver, a PSW and a human being who also has a private life, it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS whether or not a resident of mine is gay, bi, lesbian, transgender or prefers trees. In fact, it is NO BODY’S business except theirs.
This should not impact the care you give these people. This should not affect your thoughts regarding these individuals. A persons sexual preference – whether they are 65+ or not – is not relevant in ANYTHING. Do you get me? This has always upset me and the fact that this is also an issue for people who have sacrificed and seen more heartbreaking things than we can ever imagine upsets me even more.

Old People Wearing Vegetation.

A girlfriend of mine posted this on her FB page and the title alone made me laugh out loud. She’s also a large fan of the elderly and works with them on occasion as well so it’s nice that I have a friend to share this bond with. That and Jon Bon Jovi. Sigh.

Seriously, check this out. It’s unreal, and so very awesome in such a bizarre way.

 

http://www.sadanduseless.com/2013/03/old-people-wearing-vegetation/

Rue The Day.

This article absolutely fascinated me. As someone who works very closely with people who can – and do – die at the drop of a hat, I’ve often wondered these thoughts myself. DO they have regrets? If they could take back anything or do something different, would they? It’s unfortunate that due to the illnesses that a lot of my residents have I probably wouldn’t get an answer to this question if I asked it.

This article is about a woman named Bronnie Ware, who is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. This is quite the eye opener and well worth the read.

Don’t let anyone hold you back.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

When 5 days feels like an ETERNITY.

Never in my 3 years as a PSW have I ever felt such exhaustion after a day of work.

5 days straight in a nursing home is very tiresome, but it’s something I’ve done before so before I started the week from hell I paid no attention to it. In fact, I’ve done 7 days straight and never have I been so stressed and tired. However, thus the nature of the job. With so many people to look after comes a lot of uncertainty and potential problems that one doesn’t even think of when going to work.

During my week we had 2 residents sent to hospital, another one fainted on me and everyone else was coughing up phlegm or sneezing germs – the equivalent to a nuclear bomb going off – in to the air. T’was the time for yellow gowns and masks indeed.

Like I’ve said before, it’s that time of year when people tend to get sick. Unfortunately, the elderly are very susceptible and can suffer far greater damage than young kids like us. The common cold CAN kill you, I’ve seen it.

I’m hoping that when I go back to work this weekend things may have calmed down in the 2 days I’ve had off.

Or with my luck, things could have gotten worse. -_-