Understanding what a residents first day in a nursing home is like and having to actually live it are two very different things. Have you actually lived like a resident in your community.
Bryan Womack started his skilled nursing Administrator-in-training program spending 24 hours as a resident. This is part 1 of his story. Part 2 will be published at the end of the week – Steve Moran
I arrived at 11am with a broken leg and was greeted by a Social Worker, an admissions person, and several nurses. They greeted me warmly, welcomed me to the facility, and began to ask me lots of questions, some of which I didn’t answer completely honestly because I didn’t know these people and they didn’t need to know about my struggle with Schizophrenia. They asked lots of questions about my past, my family life, explained Medicare to me and told me that after twenty days I would have to pay $144.50 per day co-pay, and that I could apply for Medicaid if I needed to. They explained the rules to me as far as what I could and couldn’t have in my room; they also made it pretty clear that if I did need something, they would provide it; a small comfort considering I don’t like the idea of having to ask anyone for what I need. They went on to explain that even though some of those things I am perfectly capable of handling, other residents might not be able to and they could get to my stuff; which is a little concerning, I don’t like the thought of other residents coming in my room.
After finishing all my paperwork, I was then escorted to my room. It felt a bit odd, and I could tell that the other residents were wondering who I was and what I was doing there. It seemed like an eternity before I got to the privacy of my room. Once I was in my room I could finally take a deep breath and began to think about the fact that I was a nursing home resident, and wondering what it was going to be like. I didn’t have long to ponder, because immediately after getting to my room, housekeeping came in to make sure everything was satisfactory, and to see if I needed anything. Then my nurse came in she introduced herself then took my vitals. Then Maintenance came in and changed out my TV because they stated it didn’t work properly. During all this, I had to pee but didn’t tell anyone, I wasn’t looking forward to having someone help me use the bathroom.
They then told me that it was time to go to lunch, and asked if I wanted to eat in my room or go down to the dining room. I decided that if I was going to be here, I might as well meet some new people and decided I should go to the dining room; they were having cube steak, a baked potato, peaches, and green beans. They had learned of my swallowing issues in the past, and had me on a puree diet and thickened liquids, so I wasn’t looking forward to that very much. I got help from my bed into my wheelchair and pushed myself down to the dining room and was directed to my table. A group of four little old ladies kept glancing my way, and even asked the dietary staff who I was. I truly was the outsider here. The meal was pretty difficult to get through . . . pureed food will take some getting used to. To make it worse, the only thing I had to wash the food down with was a gelatinous cup of milk and cranberry juice. I was able to eat the pile of brown that used to be steak, and the potato was easy, but the green blob that used to be beans was just too much, and I powered through three large bites and was satisfied with the amount of food I had eaten. Therapy was pleased with my effort and informed me that they would allow me to eat a regular consistency dinner with supervision to make sure I did ok with it. I was happy about that, a small hurdle for my first day here.
After going back to my room I finally couldn’t hold it any longer, and rang my call bell to get assistance to go to the bathroom. I decided to sit on the toilet to urinate rather than have someone stand behind me and hold my gait belt, for fear of getting stage fright and making it even more awkward than it already was. Thankfully my nurse was very professional and matter of fact and I realized it was a much bigger deal for me than it was for her, which added a small measure of comfort. After calling her back in to help me back into my wheelchair, she was joined by another Nurse or CNA and they informed me that it was time for them to do a full body skin assessment. I thought being helped to the bathroom was embarrassing, but having every inch of your body checked for lesions, bruises, etc. as they roll you from one side to the other and look at your butt cheeks, your privates, and everything else; I realized urinating in front of a Nurse is commonplace. As soon as they left the room and I laid my head down, two other ladies came into the room and informed me they were here to weigh me. They helped me from my bed to the chair, and then back to the bed.