Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beds in LTC vs. retirement homes

Here is one family's story.

My father has been gone for fifteen years. When my mom went to a retirement home the family knew she was cared for -meals cooked etc. but she had several falls (broke a wrist) then needed a walker and as her falls continued it was decided a wheelchair would be the next step.

At that point we toured nursing homes. All of us have full time jobs or other commitments so having her come to our house was not an option. A part of the process we chose and listed our preferences for placement and her name went on a waiting list. We only found three places we liked and listed a fourth as a poor choice.

Her name came up twice-once was so far geographically that we wouldn't see her so we turned it down. The next one was our fourth choice and we were told if we turned it down we would lose the place in line. Meanwhile the retirement home was working with her but hasn't got the staff to always be with her.

As a compromise we placed her at the last choice on our list and then asked if we could be notified of another place asap knowing that any move is stressful to an elderly person. Within two months she fell trying to get out of her new wheelchair and died as a result of a head injury. She would have been 85 in Feb.

She was fairly healthy and we were optimistic about her living longer. As a result of a coroner request the staff at the nursing home met with family and answered our questions about the accident. Now head injuries can be fatal. The answers we got were unsatisfying.

There was no clear reporting done as far as time and incident reports. They put her to bed with icepack and had someone sit with her and only when she vomited did they call an ambulance. This, even knowing that one medication was Cumiden. The staff people expressed their regrets but I left the meeting with the feeling that it was just another fall, another senior, another day. I understand this home has a lot of clients stay short periods of time until the "better place becomes available."

In short I just wonder how many people realize how the placement system works. Ask lots of questions-we didn't realize there is even options about restraints for wheelchairs. My sister was closest geographically to the retirement and nursing home and so most of the overseeing was done by her. This is time that she will never get back and I will always be grateful for all the things she did to make sure mom was cared for. I am glad you are dealing with these issues as it is not a topic that is much discussed until the situation arises and information is key!!!

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You can report specific incidents at the MOH & LTC website. See making a complaint.
That said, you can make a complaint about an individual nurse on duty, or a physician. The Dr. only in the LTC home once per week. The nurses busy doling out meds. When I complained about one of my late father's physicians, I was quite pleased with the intervention on the part of the College of Physicians. They came into the LTC home, spoke to the Dr., gave him some advice, spoke to nursing staff, and similarly checked them out.

Nurses in LTC act as Nurse Practitioners, and phone a Dr. to request a med, without the Dr. seeing them. It is a terrible situation.

This is not surprising and is a reportable issue.

Mike Wallace said, "The trouble with aging is you will not feel better tomorrow than you did today."
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