I’m Tired.

Monday. Crap Day. The “I just want to lay in bed and do f*ck all day”. But I’m working – as most of you are as well because that’s what we do. We work. Some of us in illegal business but most of us on the other end of the spectrum, doing work in exchange for monetary benefits. I’m not in LTC today, I’m in Cambridge working with OPSWA. It’s fairly busy today & the heat out side doesn’t help matters.

I just feel the need to rant. Yesterday was a complete & total sh!t show at work and it’s still bugging me today. Sometimes I am just absolutely appalled with the events I see & the fact that nothing seems to be done about it irks me even more. I write about this because, well, A) this is my blog & B) most of you PSWS reading this can probably relate.

Not only was I exhausted already (my own fault for staying up late) but yesterday consisted of orienting a fairly new PSW to the floor and dealing with meals that consisted of NO COOK in which to prepare them. Uhm, hello? Apparently the cook called in sick the night before and they couldn’t get a replacement.

Breakfast normally consists of the option between cold cereals & oatmeal. Well, yesterday was just cold cereal so if you didn’t eat that OR were on a puree diet, you didn’t eat. Lunch then consisted of ham sandwiches, chicken soup & salad. Excellent options, considering that on every other day they get a choice between TWO HOT meals. I have a resident that doesn’t eat pork & 5 residents on a puree diet. I don’t know who was down there preparing all this but thankfully they thought to make mash potatoes and enough puree meals to feed those who needed them. Needless to say we had A LOT of residents and family members who were non to pleased.

This is their HOME. These people live here. It’s not a hotel, it’s not a restaurant.They are paying some absurd amount of money on a monthly basis to live and EAT here and this is what happens? WHY was there no part-time cook to stand in? WHY didn’t the dietary supervisor come in and take charge when notified of the situation? This shouldn’t be labelled a “one off” because this shouldn’t happen to begin with!

I advised – after profusely apologizing for an error I didn’t make – my residents and their families to make noise in order to ensure that something like that DOESN’T happen again.

And how was your day?

Six Feet Under.

Waiting for death is an awfully tiresome experience. Not knowing when they’re going to go. Not knowing if this breath will be their last – despite  the use of an oxygen tank. They’re no longer responsive to your voice. Your touch. It’s like you’re holding the hands of an empty shell whose soul has already departed. But you can’t properly grieve because their body is – for all intents and purposes – alive. Not living, but existing. In a never-ending time capsule that won’t open.

I watch this every day. 2 beautiful souls who were once so vibrant with life lie motionless in a single bed. I no longer get hit on. I no longer see their smiles when I walk into work. Their jokes aren’t being told to anyone.

It’s hard. Being a PSW and dealing with all the things that come with this position doesn’t mean that I’m completely devoid of emotion. It is excruciating to watch someone die a slow a death. As awful as it sounds, I find myself wishing for death to hurry up and take them. Their quality of life is nonexistent.

The hardest part for me is watching their family members. Not only seeing them cry, but watching them slowly lose every ounce of sanity they have left trying to keep it together. Frustration and anger take over, asking over and over why they can’t do anything to help.

One of them is going to go this week. The waiting game, even while at home and in my pajamas plagues me. Dealing with death once it happens is far easier than dealing with its disturbing game of trickery.

A Party For Two.

It is March Break, was anyone else aware of that? The only reason I know is because I have extra shifts this week on account of this lovely holiday. It’s been so long since I counted down the days since New Years to that wonderous week off from everything. March Breaks, long weekends, all of these things disappear once in healthcare. You get used to it believe it or not.

We were short-staffed today at work. Someone called in sick, so for 4 hours we had 3 PSWs on the unit, and for the other 4 only 2 of us remained. 2 PSWs for 30 residents.

This is a regular occurence. It happens more than I’d like to admit and unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done about it. It’s about money, it’s always about money. It isn’t about senior care and it certainly isn’t about quality of care either. It’s disgusting and it’s wrong. Should the unthinkable happen, what are we to do? There’s a fire. The entire floor has the flu. I am helping my co-worker toilet a resident with a hoyer lift when another resident has a fall. We haven’t got eyes everywhere yet we are punished as if we should have. If we call in sick we’re asked a million questions why. If we come into work sick we’re sent home and told not to have come in the first place.

A PSW life isn’t easy.

My seniors keep me going.

I do this for them. No one else.

Under Attack.

“Violence in retirement and nursing homes is a growing problem, as many seniors live longer and require long-term care that their families simply cannot provide.

An investigation into resident-on-resident abuse in long-term care homes by CTV’s W5 earlier this year found that such attacks are more common than many think. The probe found that more than 10,000 violent “incidents” in care homes are reported across Canada each year.”


I have a resident who’s been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Before they transferred to our home, when manic, they threatened a nurse with a knife and attempted suicide.

The police have been called on several accounts on another resident for making death threats and fighting with another resident.

Violence in the work place….it’s not what you think.

Co-worker on co-worker? It happens. Long Term Care resident on another resident? It happens more often than you think. I’ve seen it – granted not to this extent – but it’s there.

Are the PSW’s and nursing staff to blame? Maybe, but it’s hard to say. When a nursing home or retirement home is under staffed, and most are, it’s next to impossible to keep your eye on everyone.  I wish I could have a camera follow me around during my shift, just so people can see how difficult this job is.

This goes much deeper than someone having a bad day or accidentally acquiring a pair of scissors. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are biggies, but let’s not forget the other forms of mental illness: Depression, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia. Unfortunately the “mental hospital” as it was once known is no longer in existence so where do these poor souls go? Hospitals. The street and sometimes, yes, the nursing home. PSW’s and RN’s are not properly trained or equipped to deal with the potentially dangerous issues these illnesses can present.

More staff would help this situation, but we also need people who are properly trained with the skills to deal with the unknown evils mental illness brings.

Evil doesn’t even begin to describe it.



Don’t Play Quija.

… I’m starting to wonder if someone has played that “game” at work. Quotations were added because I think calling Ouija a game is terribly silly, but that’s a post of rambles for another day. I pose the question because my unit has been having some awful bad luck as of late. Maybe it’s just coincidence, maybe it’s party due to the flu epidemic, or maybe it just IS and posing questions is a waste of time. Either way, I wish it would stop.

Since Christmas we’ve had 4 residents pass away. 3 of which were in hospital and one was in the nursing home. All of which weren’t much of a surprise. When I came into work this morning 2 more residents were in hospital and before 8:30 we had sent another away in an ambulance.

Have you ever witnessed somebody having a stroke? It was the oddest thing. I had gotten my resident out of bed and if you knew this person, you knew that sleep was probably their favourite thing to do. But once they were awake they were able to maneuver themself into their wheelchair and into the bathroom. I proceeded to get them dressed when all of a sudden I noticed that they had dozed off. Or what I THOUGHT was dozing off. I didn’t worry right away because this particular person had a habit of falling asleep in the middle of a task. My worry started to appear when I took note of the fact that their right side was dead. Her right arm, right side of the face and legs showed no response to anything. My loudness, cold damp cloth and light taps did nothing. Even before calling the EMS we figured a stroke was what occurred.

2013 is definitely off to a rocky start. And as much as I love the decrease in workload, I miss my residents. I hope things go up from here, ans as a side note – DO NOT play with a Ouija board.

For more information on strokes, check out: http://www.canadianstrokenetwork.ca/

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.



Christmas Trees & Loose Bowels

I had a lovely day at work today. I wish I could just leave it at that but one sentence doesn’t seem worth the update, although I think that’s what describes it perfectly.

One of the many, many reasons I love my place of employment is because at this time of year everyone is happy. Sure, we’re all stressed because of shopping and food and overtime and crazy drivers but underneath all that crap we realize that life is pretty good. When I walked in to work this morning the first thing I saw before the elevator was a massive Christmas tree. A beautiful mass of green with twinkly lights, coloured balls and ribbon. I can’t describe – although I try – how lovely that was to see. The first sign of the holiday season always makes me smile. But I’m getting off topic, maybe I should start a blog on Christmas? HA!

A lot of people ask me if Christmas time especially is depressing at a long term care home. You know what? It’s not. I suppose a lot of it is based on how you view it, but if you look closely you’ll see a whole other world. It’s not Christmas like you and I would celebrate. We have the luxory of going out and visiting family – most of which are still living – and KNOWING what Christmas is. Some of these people are so far gone in their dementia that they’ve completely lost the concept of the holiday. When it gets to that point, it’s not sad anymore. For other residents, most of which have family and there are always events going on.  I do believe I’ve touched on this before so I won’t bore you.

Speaking of the season and the generosity it brings out in people, let me tell you something that happened to me today. This was completely unexpected and totally blew me a way. I do believe I almost cried – yeah, I’m very girly in that way, I don’t like it much but what can you do – because that’s how touched I was.

I received a little card with a lovely hand lotion from a resident’s daughter. It simply stated how happy and greatful she was for all the work I do for her father.
I don’t do this job because I expect gifts or bonuses. I do it because I enjoy it and I love helping people without anything in return. However, I am so happy and pleased that the work we all do – as PSWs or nurses – doesn’t go unnoticed. That little bit of recognition and a simple thank you is more than enough for me, so the idea of receiving a gift is the equivalent of winning the lottery.

The next time I see her I’ll have to give her a hug.

In other PSW news, my poor darling – well, one of them – had a very very loose BM today and it got all over her pants. She was so embarassed, but I calmed her down by telling her the story of how many times I’ve vomited in front of people. We had a good laugh. Loose bowels and vomit is nothing to be ashamed of people!

I now have very sore feet, so I think I’ll go relax before my cat decides to sit on my computer.