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 and come with a tag of “handle with care, 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 required.
- 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. Backbiting, 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 are additional work for them, which may take up their time and energy, leaving them tired from 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 use their cell phones is only fair. However, do communicate to them that this 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.