In the news

The Alz center was in the news last week for a day or two. Apparently police were investigating a single case of alleged abuse of a patient by a staff member. A news report about that case led a woman whose husband died at the center to file her own police report about injuries he had when he died that a hospital physician described as unusual.

My reaction is that I am not alarmed. I am hopeful the family members of the residents who ended up with unexplained injuries might have been mistaken – that the injuries, at least in one case, could have been self-imposed by the patient. Or that maybe another patient caused the problems. But I am also not delusional. I know that there are bad apples out there in ALL professions, and that the actions of these bad apples should not harm an entire facility or institution’s reputation.

What did bother me, but didn’t really surprise me, were the viewer comments posted on the TV news station’s website after the story aired. I often read comments – I am interested in other people’s opinions, for some reason. But I should really stop it. The Internet has been kind to me in many ways – this blog, for instance – but it has invited so many irrational comments by people empowered by their anonymity to say the cruelest and most thoughtless things. And I get really riled up about it, which is why I should really stop reading comments on news sites.

I read all 106 comments on the website after the first report. So many people are quick to complain about nursing homes – those with experience and those without. There is so much judgment out there, and SO much ignorance about long-term care, and especially about how different this particular nursing home is from others. One commenter said the place should be shut down – and to that person, I ask, will s/he take in my mom, then, and provide her with 24-hour specialized dementia care? Also among the comments were a couple of notes from a woman from support group who had her husband at home for years before moving him into the Alz center in August. She briefly said she thought the care at the center was fine – excellent, even – and that she is there every day to see what it’s like. She used her actual first and last names. And more than one follow-up commenter accused her of being an Alz center staff member fraudulently posing as a family member. The nerve of some people. I have a feeling she doesn’t really care. I thought about posting under my own name that she is a real person, and also voicing my support for the center. No matter how compelled I feel to participate, though, I just can’t bring myself to engage with people who obviously don’t give a damn what a person WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON AT THE CENTER thinks or knows for a fact.

Now, if there is an abuser on the staff, I certainly will be distressed to find out this is the case. But I trust the leadership of the center to do the right thing in the event that this turns out to be the case. I know many staff members by name and many others by sight. And I see how they act when no one is likely to be looking. They are gentle and loving with the residents for the most part. And they are working constantly. I think people who do this work are generally regarded as low-skill workers because they don’t need advanced education to be nursing aides. Perhaps that is the case. But at the Alz center, they have to have a heart. And I know that most of them do.

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5 comments so far

  1. Gemma on

    Emily, The people who comment online are exercising a cyber form of logorrhea, or diarrea of the mouth. They don’t respond to the conversation — they just spew their own dirt. Don’t read it!

  2. patwhite67 on

    Emily,

    I too am angered by the responses of people who spew out their own sometimes venomous views without waiting to hear the facts.

    Those of us who have a family member suffering from dementia and receiving care in a nursing home know how demanding is the work of a nurses’s aide both physically and mentally. Soothing an anxious patient and dealing with tensions between patients is an everyday occurence.

    Like you, I too am so very grateful to my mother’s caregivers for their attention to her wellbeing and comfort, especially since we are unable to care for her at home. I regard myself, my brother, and our mom’s aides as all members of her caregiving team, who must communicate and work together for our mother’s benefit.

  3. Jennifer Jayhawk on

    This is a tough subject. My mom’s sister (my aunt) was in a private home type setting. They were caring for a few Alzheimer’s patients. I’m not a big fan of the private home but I know it is a good option for some people. My Aunt was abused severely Her children lived out of town so it was hard for them to keep day to day tabs on what was going on. They thought they had placed her in a lovely home. I think a professional Alzheimer’s care center would have to have accountability.

    We are currently in the process of moving my father in law to NC. I just feel like the whole “caring for an aging parent” hits us with no warning or knowledge of what we are doing and what are the best options (at least for me).

    Just curious, do you have an opinion on “For Profit” and “Not for Profit” care facilities?

  4. margaret massey on

    Cyberspace seems to make many people feel more comfortable being much more extreme than they would in person.

    I also think that as a society we’re quick to jump on nursing homes and other care facilities because we’ve delegated so much responsibility and control to them, and we have a lot of emotions about not being involved as much as we feel we should be.

    I’m personally feeling pretty negative right now about the care facility where my mom is, but mainly because she’s bored to death with their uninspiring activities.

    The staff DOES get stressed out with her, understandably, because she’s a huge complainer, and knows exactly how to use her criticism of them as a dagger- the only power she has left. Sometimes when they’re tired and overworked they can’t deflect it with humor and grace, and they say things that aren’t incredibly professional. But until we can get places with better ratios of caregivers to residents, and better pay, it’s inevitable (sadly) that tired staff are going to crack sometimes.

    That doesn’t mean abuse is ever justified, but that there are many grey areas of “abuse” and it’s hard to lay blame when you spend a day in the caregiver staff’s shoes. It’s amazing to me that they’re so composed most of the time under the circumstances.

  5. momsbrain on

    Gemma: I’m trying to quit the comments everywhere.

    Pat: Yes, indeed, the caregiving team is a big one!

    Jennifer: I don’t doubt there is abuse at all, and I am very sorry to hear about your aunt. That is terrible. One thing about one of the cases here is that the woman has been bed-ridden for 18 years with movement in only her right arm. And her right hand is all bruised up. I just don’t think abusers would strike a hand – which is why I said I thought it could have been self-inflicted, as in flailing or something. But I know I could be very wrong. As for nonprofit vs. profit, I am in favor of nonprofit. I base this on my mom’s experience at the previous care facility – she and I were treated very well while she was private pay in assisted living. As soon as she went on Medicaid, and moved to the nursing home side, the administrator complained about her behavior and essentially kicked her out two weeks later. I told the staff there I thought it was clear they were anti-Medicaid. They didn’t respond.

    Margaret: I’m sorry to hear your mom is unhappy. That has always been the hardest thing for me – when Mom seemed sad or angry or scared. I do think it’s one of the hardest jobs imaginable, and certainly underpaid. Makes me want to be a volunteer – but I haven’t taken that on yet.


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