Monday, April 19, 2010

New pad & old chair ...but now the Exec Director hates me...

A family counsel meeting between the staff at the nursing home, Mom, me and my brother went well overall - until the Executive Director joined in....  The social services staff at Mom's nursing home regularly requests meetings like this to discuss the residents' needs, wishes and to understand what's possible as far as care, comfort and support.   It's a good thing to do but often when bad news is involved emotions get heated.  I admit that I was hot headed over this pad situation but I was calmer and it was addressed to my satisfaction before the meeting.  At the family conference I realized that they were all worried about criticism directed at the therapists and didn't understand the significance of the pad in the wheelchair.   

We started the conversation by discussing Mom's health issues and asking her what would make her comfortable.  She had a small list - her chair (a rocker/recliner that no longer reclines), her 28" flat screen TV and less "man-handling" when she's getting help to the bathroom.     The TV can't go into her current room, the "recliner" was a no-no until we explained that it no longer reclined and she didn't have the strength to do it anyway.  The "man-handling" will be an on going issue that retraining aides will help but we all have to watch closely for rushed and rough treatment.   We discussed re-arranging furniture in Mom's shared room to accommodate the chair, bed and wheelchair... all easy fixes.   Mom, being her thoughtful self, said she didn't want to make adjustments if it upset Judy her room mate.  Mom is worried that Judy is in constant pain and said "she has it worse than me."   Mom fails to realize her weaknesses and limits but remains thoughtful of someone who's just as limited.  Judy is a dwarf with severe arthritis in her joints and hands.  She goes to dialysis regularly and seems to have some developmental disabilities too.   I am proud that Mom wants to  consider her wishes but will continue to push for Mom's comfort.   We agreed to try different ways to arrange the room to meet Mom's wishes.

We were all happy about the progress of things until I brought up the wheelchair....They were ready for this - they immediately said, "We'll have to get our Executive Director for that!" then ran down the hall to get her.   She is a large imposing woman, probably near 6 feet tall, wide shoulders and a booming voice.  She entered, quickly made the usual niceties and immediately began talking about how she'll "defend" her therapists, that mom refused treatment, that they did all they could....   I let her finish and then stood up, raised my hands in the "halt" position and said, "Stop, I'm not complaining about your therapists.  I believe the did all they could for her, I know Mom will refuse therapy and won't exercise, her arthritis limits that.  My issue ( I really emphasized this word - IS-SHOE) is that my Mom has spent TWO MONTHS in pain! For TWO MONTHS barely able to move, unable to right herself in a wheel chair because the pad was absolutely wrong and the wheelchair just a little too big. She was sitting like this (I demonstrated by sliding down on my tail bone and sticking my arms in the air) ON HER TAILBONE which caused pain in her lower back. Her shoulders rested on the back of the chair.  This pushed her arms up to the point that she could not reach the wheels to move herself around.    I noticed this immediately! I spent two days watching her and helping her before I said anything because I wanted to be certain of the cause.   If I had not brought the other wheelchair to demonstrate the fit, no one would have listened to me."  I remember speal this because I practiced it over and over before I went to this meeting.  I  was READY.  I continued, "She has suffered because of a simple pad, A PAD!! that was easily changed but no one took the time to consider.  It's a minor tweak but made a huge difference." I added something about everyone blaming it on her bad posture and failing to look beyond that to find a way so that Mom was able to right herself. 

At this point the nursing director chimed in, "She's right.  I've watched Elvina during the meeting and she is able to push herself back in the wheelchair now. Her posture is better." At that statement the Executive Director softened and began to discuss things WITH  us not AT us.  It all ended positively with an appointment for me to take Mom's chair in at 11am the next day.  She left but I could tell she was steaming on the inside. I believe they WANT us to think they care about Mom's comfort but only time will tell.  I will continue to visit daily for another week.   I am also more resolved to move closer to my Mom so I can see her on a more regular basis.  I can't go more than 4 weeks with out a visit.  Once I'm working again, I will try to hire someone to check on her every couple of days.

I have a greater fear that the Executive Director hates me now and will make Mom suffer for it.   She might transfer that "she's a pain in the ass" attitude to my Mom.    I will not be made to feel guilty because I find ways to make Mom comfortable and enable her to do as much as she can.   I will not feel bad about making the people who are getting paid to care for her do these things too.   I realize they have many people to tend to and need some repeatable methods to save time. I realize they can't remember every little detail about every single person but I CAN and DO expect them to apply some common sense.
wheelchair pads, how do you communicate with nursing homes