Message from a Reader Working in Long-Term Care
I’d like to share a message I received from a reader in reply to my recent post (How the Grinch Stole Christmas from Nursing Home Patients Who Won’t See Another One) in which I discussed the horrifying impact of the rapid testing fiasco on long-term care patients. Her message speaks volumes.
“I just read your newest essay and wanted to say thank you from me and our elderly population who can't speak for themselves. I think I've mentioned before that I work in LTC and specialize in dementia, and I am very much an advocate for our elders. What we've done to them is horrible. I understand not wanting a virus to go through facility; it spreads fast and takes down most people in its path. My facility has 150 beds and we lost 25% of our residents in one and a 1/2 months due to RSV virus, it was horrible... But the thing is, it was horrible for us but not so much for the residents. Most people in long term care are done living, not as in they've given up, but in the way that they've lived full happy lives and are ready to move on to the next chapter. They don't want to be saved from anything; 99% of them have do-not-recessitate orders. If they do catch covid they don't want so much as an antibiotic. It's a hard concept to wrap your head around if you don't work in LTC, but when we hear someone passing away we don't say "oh no what a sin" we say "oh thank goodness, she was so ready "
The point of me writing is I wanted to tell you that, in July of 2020 I went back to the record books at my work to see who had passed away during the lockdown. In long term care the majority of people have no visitors or holiday visitors. Only a very small minority have family that comes once a week or more. During the 1st lock down, death was disproportionate: most of the people who passed away were the people who were used to seeing their loved ones at least once a week 😭. Even people with conditions who aren't supposedly able to recognize anyone suffered greatly when their families weren't accessible anymore.
People go on for hours about the problems in long term care - problems that are so easily fixable - but everybody just likes to make it seem like they care about our elderly so they get quick fixes and Band-Aids. One of the things that drives me the most nuts about my work is that there are a few people that are younger and completely cognitive; they just have another medical issue like MS or they’re paralyzed from the neck down.... We have the same care plan for a 90 year old with dementia and a 50 year old that has MS. They scattered them all around the facility, 1 or 2 on each unit, instead of having a unit just for people who are cognitive so they can continue to enjoy a sense of community and have conversations in order to have an improved quality of life .... but they just put them wherever and don't worry about it 😡.”
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I have profound respect and gratitude for anyone who serves this population and does so with heart and compassion. People like this who are on the ground working in LTCs need to be consulted when it comes to policy-making. And they should never, ever be mandated to receive vaccines. Someone who is willing to serve this population and remain compassionate and kind despite low wages and (often) low respect for the profession should be trusted and treated with gratitude and respect.
Those who made these rules are sadistic.