|Sunday, 04 October 2009 14:06 | Print page:|
Sometimes you see, or read, something that makes your brain just snap. This did it for me today. It is a son's account of the lack of services provided for his mother who is in now in residential care.
'My mother left hospital unable to walk independently. She was placed in transitional care with the promise of intensive physiotherapy.'
Now why would I not be surprised about that? Because, during the course of many years supporting family members and friends in aged-care facilities (hostels, nursing homes, transitional care facilities, supported residential services etc. etc.), I have never once come across 'intensive physiotherapy'.
My mother lost her ability to walk three weeks after entering a nursing home. And, I noticed, most other people admitted to that home did too. Of course they did. Staff were far too frantic to assist residents walk to the various sitting and dining rooms. Those rows of wheel chairs and bath chairs sure came in handy - much quicker and easier to use those rather than to be guiding slow old people as they pottered along the corridors. As for physiotherapy ….there was just one therapist for two hours a week to assist thirty people.
These days we all know how quickly muscle tone is lost through inactivity. People who have surgery are encouraged to be up and about as soon as possible. The days of lying around in a hospital bed, as a form of recovery, are over.
It is strange then that we don’t apply the same knowledge to older people in residential care. Yet again, different standards apply. Of course, people at the end of life experience lack of vigour and energy. But I know that my mother’s quality of life during those long years in a nursing home would have been vastly improved if she had remained mobile.
Since my mother died, the numbers of staff per resident in aged-care homes has generally decreased. And, if contributions to the forum discussions on this web site are to be believed, morale is extremely low.
Good people are leaving for work where they can have the satisfaction of a job well done – not one where the needs of frail residents are barely met, in spite of one’s best efforts. The number of trained nurses on hand is diminishing by the day. The Australian Nurses Federation is fighting a rear guard action on behalf of their overworked and underpaid aged-care nurses.
As for 'intensive physiotherapy' … in your dreams!
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