Managing nursing staff at home

The adage
goes something like this – illness brings with it medicines, doctors, hospitals
and clinics. But ask someone from the present,  and they will say that the
most important factor that comes with any chronic illness is the nursing
staff. 

They are
rare, come with a tag of “handle with care and, whether you like to admit it or
not, their presence contributes more to your peace of mind than other things.

A friend
who has been dealing with an ailing elder at home confides that she is at times
more worried about the well- being of the nurse than the other family members.
‘’They aren’t going anywhere, but if I neglect the caregiver, she’ll be walking
out soon’’ she adds ruefully.

 A
question we should be asking ourselves is if we should treat nursing aides and
caregivers well only for the fear of them quitting, or in appreciation of the
assistance and support they provide? 

After
all, they are the ones who patiently endure and ceaselessly care for your loved
ones and making it imperative for the family to make things easy for them in
order for them to perform optimally. It is you who would stand to gain at the
end of it. 

Here are
some valuable tips on how to go about managing nursing staff at home while
creating a win-win situation.

  • Caregivers and nurses leave
    their families, work away from home for long periods of time and are there
    to help you.   It is only fair and humane that they are treated more
    like an extended family rather than domestic aid.
  • If they are working round
    the clock, they need a break.   For this reason, letting them off for
    a couple of hours (only when the patient is sleeping or has family members
    around) will help them refresh their minds.
  • There may be days when they
    are a bit under the weather and are feeling low. On those days, you can
    cut them some slack and give them more time off and/or reduce their chores
    by pitching in to help.
  • They also need good
    nutrition to keep them going.  Don’t serve them stale food or
    leftovers – sharing of meals is ideal.  If they have certain food
    preferences which they can’t do without or if their demands aren’t too
    fancy, they can be served  variations. They can also accompany you to
    restaurants and enjoy the same meals unless they are themselves not very
    keen.
  • We all need clean hygienic
    conditions to thrive and nursing staff aren’t any  different. Make
    sure you provide them with clean mattresses , sheets and other basics.
  • The nurse may not belong to
    the same religion or beliefs as you.   You need to show them some
    sensitivity by excusing them from trips to religious places or functions,
    if they are require.
  • They love being treated and
    talked with kindness and respect. Just like we all do.
  • Give them the benefit of the
    doubt and verify facts whenever there is a loss or damage instead of
    blaming them impulsively.
  • Keep the communication lines
    clear and open at all  times. You have to encourage them to let you
    know honestly and directly if there is anything bothering them or if they
    need something. Back biting, complaining to other visitors or to the
    patient has to be discouraged.
  • Treating them well is
    appreciated , but it is important to draw a line as far as their conduct
    and decision making about the patient is concerned.
  • Caregivers and nurses,
    though trained to handle patients, are not in a position to prescribe
    medicines. They may have some  valuable suggestions based on their
    experiences, but as far as medication is concerned, it is better to
    consult the doctor.
  • Make their work easy by
    preparing a routine and schedule that you both agree upon rather than
    letting them work randomly round the clock.
  • Caregivers have their hands
    full already with the work they do for the patient. Hence, other tasks
    such as asking them to cook their own meals  is additional work for
    them, which may take up their time and energy, leaving them tired for
    their primary duties.
  • Don’t overwhelm them by
    making them solely responsible for the patient. They should know that they
    are your representatives in your absence and at the end of the day it is
    teamwork.
  • Letting them know beforehand
    the rules at home simplifies things for everyone. This includes being
    polite, dressing well, and informing them of when they are not required to
    be around  – like when there are visitors.
  • Be clear to them about not
    leaving the patient unattended without any of the family members being
    around and, if required, explain to them why instead of issuing plain
    orders.
  • They need someone to talk
    to. Allowing them to have visitors or using their cell phones is only
    fair. However, do communicate to them that this it is accepted only
    if  it does not interfere with their regular work or disturb the
    patient.

Each day
brings with it a new set of complications and  it can be very tough on
you. The key is to learn to let go sometimes, and deal with the whole set up in
a calm and mature manner. A   corporate relationship is preferred, where a
well-defined system and certain mandatory codes have to be followed for things
to run effectively and smoothly – but don’t forget the  human touch.

Balance
is the key and only you can decide which side to tilt things to keep the
atmosphere pleasant and going.

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