Have you seen any changes in the past few years in your residents and/or Post-Acute Care in general?
There has been a big change in the type of resident we receive. When I first entered into the medical field, we saw elderly grandmothers and grandfathers that just couldn’t stay at home by themselves any longer. Now, we are seeing younger and younger residents with more complex disease profiles. Beyond that, the average resident we receive now has more acute care needs because hospitals are releasing them sooner and sooner.
In talking about the changing residents, how do you help your team provide better care for these complex cases?
This higher acuity resident has created an environment where more training is needed for nurses and caregivers. The other challenge is just having enough staff. With these higher acuity residents, we can’t have one nurse taking care of 25 or 30 residents at once. It’s not possible any longer. To that point, we maintain a smaller nurse to resident ratio. We also have doctors that come into the facility daily for additional one-on-one contact.
Beyond more nurses and increased doctor interaction, we give our staff monthly training for specific challenges we find in the resident population. A good example of that is how to start an IV. These trainings help from a skill perspective, but they also give our nurses confidence to manage complex cases.
Compassion in Care
Can you talk about empathy and compassion in care and why it’s so important?
First of all, compassionate care used to imply someone was at end of life. Compassionate Care doesn’t mean that any longer. Compassionate care is providing more holistic care for the resident. It means looking beyond their diseases and medications and seeing that the resident as a person. Unfortunately, a lot of time there is an absence of compassion in care. And it’s not because caregivers don’t care, it’s because they get caught up in paperwork, guidelines and documentation that consume time and energy.
The benefit of compassionate care to the resident is pretty obvious. When a resident feels cared for, they are more responsive, mentally and physically, to treatment.
I’ve been a caregiver forever. I cared for my grandparents and my aunt that had congestive heart failure. I was at her bedside and closed her eyes in her final breath. It is experiences like this that have shaped my views of compassionate care. Too often our elderly population is dismissed, but it shouldn’t be that way. These residents had lives, they loved, they experienced happiness and heartbreak. And, in their later years, they deserve to be treated with compassion.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog on sensitivity training for your nurses.
About the Author
Mona Washington-Jingles, LPN, began her career as an Activities Director and went back to school to become a nurse. She is currently an MDS Supervisor for two facilities. St. Claire Manor and Ollie Steele Burden Manor. Mona has been a nurse for 13 years.