Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mechanical Lift

The PSW told me that he quite enjoyed caring for my dad. He told me he gave dad pain pills as needed on those nights that dad was loudly vocal, some days they could hear him singing down the hall and around the corner in the nurse’s office. They made sure that they gave him the pills before they moved him. I was grateful. Dad appeared uncomfortable every time they had put him into the swing lift for several weeks now.

The mechanical lift is a marvel, as long as a resident/patient wants to be moved. It is difficult watching this process as your father used to be your tall, strong protector.

What to expect?--February 7, 2007
Dad was not putting sentences together very well--he could draw up many nonsensical words. He was napping every few minutes. He had some of his lunch still in his mouth. He was gesturing towards the bed and I knew he wanted to sleep. We pushed the call button and Cynthia came to our aid. She told us she would get Sharon to come and put Dad into bed. Sharon had a lovely sense of nonsense! Dad always smiled when he saw her. She is an attractive woman, perhaps in her thirties or forties, with dark hair and a winning smile. She always made a point of bending over, or kneeling down, and getting at his eye level. She told him she was going to get him into bed. I loved it when they treated him like a person and someone who might be sentient, even though all indicators pointed to the other end of the spectrum.

They brought in the big mechanical lift. This was a piece of equipment about five feet high that was plugged in to charge its batteries when not being used. On wheels, it could be rolled and moved around the room easily. Sharon made Dad lean forward. They put the jacket around his shoulders and up under his legs. She told me that he really did not like it. She apologized to him, even though he couldn’t hear her, for having to use the lift. It was a touching gesture and I think it helped. It certainly helped me. I remember one time that he enjoyed it and was laughing and smiling at me as he was being lifted. Once he was in bed, he was asleep in thirty seconds. We tucked him in. I kissed him goodbye and left. He would pass away on February 16, not long after.

I adored Sharon’s bedside manner. She was always respectful, kind, and caring at a level that went beyond her training. Her spirit embodied that of the PSW: she treated Dad with such dignity and respect at all times. Despite his inability to hear her, she always explained what she was doing. Jill Bolte Taylor, in her book My Stroke of Insight, demonstrated the respect, or lack thereof, that some staff members or visitors display to those who are perceived to be ill. Dr. Bolte Taylor suffered a life-threatening blood clot in her brain and wrote of her experiences. Since she had moments of clarity, with little brain function on the left side of her brain, she was able to understand emotions and feelings without having the language to articulate them at the time. She reminds caregivers and staff members that the best way to help those who are ill is to let them sleep.

Beyond that, a caregiver’s respectful attitude is perceived on a deeper psychosocial level even by those with brain injuries and apparent dementia. She found that those who came in to visit her, if they possessed a positive attitude, and brought energy and a strong spirit into her room, gave her added energy. So many burned-out workers in LTC are hard-pressed to keep their energy up. So many of our RNs and RPNs, and suport staff are stressed-out beyond their abilities to cope due to lack of staff, and other issues. This has a profound effect on those in care. They can read your emotions and it affects them, too.

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