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  • Writer's picturePam

How Could The Temp Nurse Not Know Which Pills She Was Giving Mom?

Many people are unaware that there are often temporary nurses and caregivers brought into facilities when there are staff shortages. This can actually be a very difficult thing for residents who have needs. My mom relies heavily on the fact that her current caregivers know exactly what her issues are and what her care needs are. Especially the little things, such as how to lift her a certain way or how to bathe her.

When a new person is brought in for maybe one night or day they have no knowledge of that person. This can be very unsettling for elderly people in particular. It can be scary for someone to wake up to someone they have never seen before or to have someone giving them a shower they are not at all comfortable with. As I have talked about many times, the lack of good staffing is a big problem everywhere. Even the best places are short on good staff.

My mom has an experience of this nature the other day. She is extremely aware of what medication she takes and she knows what each pill looks like. Whenever she is taking medication she asks to see each pill and has the nurse tell her what the medication is. This is a great thing for an elderly person to be able to do and they feel pride in doing so. I often see the nursing staff get frustrated at how she takes a few minutes to question what pills she is taking instead of being supportive and possibly considering that she is helping make sure everyone is accurate in what they are giving her.

A nurse we did not know came into her room last week and said I am here for your after dinner medication. My mom asked her what she was giving her as she felt like maybe she had already had them. The nurse looked at the pills and said" I think this one is an aspirin" and then she showed my mom the other and said "I don't know what that is." My mom said she didi not recognize the square pill and wanted to know what it was. The temp nurse told her she would go back and ask what it was. I was there so I watched the happen. I was shocked. How could a nurse come to give pills to someone but not know what those pills are? That is a very dangerous thing. If my mom had just taken them without knowing they could have been wrong. The regular staff knows what she takes and would know the pills they were giving.

I immediately made a note about it and made a written complaint about it to the Executive Director. These are the kinds of things that happen in all facilities. The average facilities and the best. You need to check up on these things as much as you can when you visit your loved one. Check in with who is working and how the facility handles temp staffing needs. How will you know when a temp staff member is going to be caring for your loved one? Temp staffers should be introduced to those they are caring for that day or night whether short term or long.

For those of you who do not have special needs in a senior facility, you should still know how these situations will be handled in the event a person's care status changes. Most residents end up having some part of their care assisted at some point during their stay.

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