Thanks Allen Wood for this post. Simple and direst, I like it.
Thanks Allen Wood for this post. Simple and direst, I like it.
Hello. My name is Allen Wood. I am a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in the state of Arkansas and have been since 2001. I’m grateful for this forum where I can express some of my grievances as a caregiver. I believe it’s important for all of us as caregivers to have a place where we can come together to express what’s tugging at our hearts and to derive support and strength together. Thank you for taking time to read my entry. I hope that I can deliver something that will bring to light some of the conditions we as caregivers experience in our service to others.
As caregivers, we are so giving of ourselves in service to others, exercising our love for other human beings. One thing I have found working as a personal caregiver is that families often do not recognize what exactly a caregiver is. What is their role? Some develop an appreciation for the caregivers they hire and see them as true giving souls. Others look at caregivers as servants. I think some families watch Downton Abbey on PBS and think that their financial status makes caregivers their servants. Anytime a family looks at me this way or causes me to feel like I’m subservient, it hurts me to my core. I do have a servant’s heart to care for those I care for. I do my best to bring them comfort as I take care of their needs. In this way, I am a servant. But when a family invites guests (sometimes in large groups) to their house, they somehow believe that the caregiver, who’s purpose is to take care of the patient, should take on the role of the servant and serve everyone present. This has happened to me recently.
I find it’s important as caregivers to educate the families we work for, to help them understand the difference between caring for someone and being a servant to all. We must stand our ground and set boundaries. We can do this in a loving, caring, tactful way.
I learned early on while working in a nursing home that each hired professional on the staff had their own expertise. Let me give an example: one day in the dining facility, a resident dropped her plate and it broke on the floor. Without thinking, I reached down to pick up the broken pieces. Another caregiver yelled at me, “Stop don’t touch that!” I was reminded that CNA’s do not pick up broken glasses or clean up the mess on the floor. Housekeeping is called for that. Housekeeping is trained in how to clean up these things. This is their function. It was explained to me (actually I was just being reminded from my schooling) that the reason a CNA is not allowed to pick up the broken glass, is that, if I had cut my finger, I then would have had an open wound where bacteria, viruses, and germs could have gotten into my flesh. It is very easy to get staph infections this way. What if, later, even though I would have had gloves on, while cleaning up someone from a bowel movement, the glove failed? Feces could connect with the wound. Diseases such as hepatitis can be contracted in this way.
Later, I worked one-on-one, privately hired by a family to take care of their loved one in their home. Things are little different in this setting. Here you become the Jack-of-all-trades. You are the only staff. So now you do clean up those messes. You do the dishes. You’re the dietitian. You’re the wound care nurse. The list goes on. The duty list can be enormous. I have no complaints there.
But let me tell you about another scenario. I agreed to be a caregiver for a husband and wife. The husband was in hospice care. The wife’s health was good but she was tired from not being able to sleep at night. I agreed to work the nights taking care of her husband so she could sleep. The first night I came to work, she handed me a leash to take out her dog and a bag to pick up the poop. I was there to take her husband. Can I take care of her husband, while out walking the dog? This was a learning experience for me. As time went on, I realized that I was being looked at as a servant, not just a caregiver.
Fast-forward to another family. This family always verbally says they’re very appreciative of their caregivers (there’s a team of us). And yet, come Christmastime, family members are allowed to come from other states and fill up every bed of the house. There was no consideration at all as to where the caregiver was going to sleep. The family really expected the caregiver to either sleep on the living room floor or in a chair. This is just not acceptable.
I have learned to stand up for myself. In this situation, it is necessary to explain to the family that I will not be there on any night that I do not have my own bed in which to sleep. Granted I get up several times a night with my patient, but I will not sleep on the floor. The family needs to be educated in these matters.
If we as caregivers do not stand up ourselves is valuable human beings and refuse to be treated as anything less then we deserve, some families will never learn. And they will use and abuse us however they please just because they’re paying us. Yes, slavery has ended. We get compensated in exchange for our services with money. But, if we allow families to treat us this way, we are still slaves.
This is the day to issue a “Call to Arms” for all Family and Professional Caregivers alike. I was totally dismissed two nights ago by the son of the 90 year old lady I live with as a JERK with loose lips, who talks too much to his mom about what’s happening in her life! He won’t even talk to me much less listen to my ideas about how to help prepare his mom to go into an assisted living facility (for which I did all the work by the way), because all he cares about is himself. That’s exactly why he’s not married anymore and never will be.
I also got grief from Dolly saying “I don’t care about her anymore” arguing about her **** cigarettes, again. I’m really tired of hearing that I’m taking the side of the staff where she lives and I’m against her, that’s nonsense. It would be so easy to walk away from this woman, but I won’t, because she has dementia and I can’t hold her responsible for all the crap she says to me, but I don’t have to listen for very long either, do I?? I’m volunteering to help Dolly and she’s getting more aggressive and hateful with me . HOW long am I supposed to put up with this behavior??
These two stories have defined my life for the last two years and illustrates how a family who adopted me has turned on me when the going gets tough. Then the woman who I helped after her stroke has now become more difficult to manage even on less frequent visits, because the longer time between our visits is very hard for her brain to adjust to and I get that, but its damn hard to stomach. Anyone else feel that way? Write to me and please share your story.
The conflicts that Family and Professional Caregivers suffer through every day are nearly impossible for anyone else to understand. Am I making sense here? Making these stories public is my way of venting my frustration at the potential cost of my own place to live and my peace of mind, because this essay is a Clarion Call to all Caregivers to STAND UP for yourself, because YOU deserve better. By coming together online and in small groups to say, We’re mad as hell and won’t stand for being disrespected any longer by clients or family we are encouraging each other as friends who love and support the great, heart centered work we do alone.
So, YES this is the day to call for a “Slave Revolution” and ask you to join us online to begin to “Connect The Heart and Soul of Caregivers” as human beings in open dialogue within this blog today, don’t wait till tomorrow or you’ll be overwhelmed by your duties again. We need to band together and develop a New Nonprofit Crowdsourced Platform and start to serve ourselves first. Am I making sense to anyone here? IF so , write me and let’s get started changing how Caregivers are perceived and Disrupt Dementia in our “Dementia Disrupters Tribe” today.
My name is David, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, phone # is 479-750-1565
IF you’re tired of being ignored, pushed aside, forced to sleep in an old chair or worse on the floor, and treated like a SLAVE. Please contact me today and let’s do this thing together as a new family of choice, a new Tribe of like minded folks who actually care about more than their own self and want to leave a legacy of hope for future generations. That’s it for now. We need new stories and new voices for these blog pages. Are you ready to Stand Up and let your voice be heard or live in silence forever? I’m waiting to embrace anyone with the guts to want to change their life and get growing again.
Thanks for reading There, I do feel better now……… 🙂 Say YES to a new life NOW.