Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Thoughts on compassion . . .


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A few weeks ago the news was full of stories about the so called "care" that the elderly are being in numerous care homes here in the UK.  Todd and I were flabbergasted and even more so when we watched a program about it on the BBC's Panorama.  We both looked at each other and said, I'd rather be dead than go into a care home.   There was very little care in evidence.  Businesses funded privately in which the main focus is gaining the most profits as they can at the end of the year, at the expense of the patients.  Low staffing means that each staff member has far too many patients whom they have to care for.   Low rates of pay means that recruitment comes from those who are largely untrained and with being overworked and underpaid . . . it was fairly evident that a lot of the care workers really did not care, full stop.  If you treat an employee as if YOU don't care, they WON'T care!  And it doesn't stop there . . . this is a general lack of caring which has also spread into our hospital systems.   And I know it's not just here in the UK that this is happening.  I was also privy to it last year when I was in Canada as my mother went through her operation etc. and ended up in the hospital for most of the six weeks that I was there.

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 In those six weeks my mother had her hair washed once, and that was by myself.  She had one bed bath that she can recall.  She had a telephone next to her bed, which most of the time she was too weak to reach or unable to reach.  It was only when she was moved to a Ward where there was another more capable person in the ward that her phone got answered.   On the days that I was able to get into Halifax to spend time with her, her meal sheet got filled in by me.  On all of the other days, her meal sheet was left and then gathered completely unmarked, which meant that for most of her meals she got soup . . . for both lunch and dinner . . . it was quickly apparent to me that unless you had family who were able to be there almost 24/7, only the most urgent things were attended to.  I am not really blaming the nurses for this, but a system in which money has become more important than care.  And when that happens . . .  I'm afraid compassion flies out the window.

I don't think care workers or nurses set out to be "uncaring" . . .  I think the system creates them.  Once again if you treat your employees like YOU don't care . . . they soon WON'T care.  I also don't think that all care workers or nurses are "uncaring."  I just feel that there are far too many out there that don't care and something needs to be done to change this.  Something is very broken and it needs to be fixed . . .  NOW!


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It reminded me of a story which I had read a while back written by a young nurse of her pilgrimage in learning to see in a patient the image of God beneath a very "distressing disguise."

One of her very first patients had been a woman who was totally helpless.  "A cerebral aneurysm had left her with no conscious control over her body."  As near as the doctors could tell, the patient was totally unconscious, unable to feel pain and unaware of anything going on around her.  It became the job of the hospital staff to turn her every hour to prevent bedsores and to feed her twice a day "What looked like a thin mush via a stomach tube."  Caring for her was a thankless task.  "When it's this bad," an older student nurse told the younger nurse, "you have to detach yourself emotionally from the whole situation . . . "  As a result, more and more this patient came to be treated as a thing, a vegetable . . .

But the young student nurse finally decided that she could not treat this person like the others treated her.  She talked to the patient, sang to her, encouraged her and even brought her little gifts.  One day when things were especially difficult and it would have been easy for the young nurse to take our her frustrations on the patient, she was especially kind.   It was Thanksgiving Day and the nurse said to the patient, "I was in a cruddy mood this morning, because it was supposed to be my day off.  But now that I'm here, I'm glad.  I wouldn't have wanted to miss seeing you on Thanksgiving.  Do you know that this is Thanksgiving?"

Just then the telephone rang, and as the nurse turned to answer it, she looked quickly back at the patient.  Suddenly, she writes . . . the patient was "looking at me . . . crying. Big damp circles stained her pillow, and she was shaking all over."

That was the only human emotion that this patient ever showed to any of them, but it was enough to change the whole attitude of the hospital staff toward her.  Not long after this, the patient died.  The young nurse closed her story by saying, "I keep thinking about her.  It occurred to me that I owe her an awful lot.   Except for her, I might never have known what it's like to give myself to someone who can't give back."

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And that is my message for today . . .  be kind.  Be caring.  Love always.  Nothing else will ever matter quite so much.  If everyone lived by this, the world would be a much different place.  I remember reading something once upon a time attributed to Mother Teresa.  When asked how she could care so much for those seemingly worthless souls she cared for all the days of her life, she had simply answered . . . "In each I simply see the face of God."

See the face of God

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿ ✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿ 

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, 
but I know that when we die and it comes time 
for God to judge us, he will not ask, 
'How many good things have you done in your life?' 
rather he will ask, '
How much love did you put into what you did?” 
~Mother Teresa

✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿ ✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿   

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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Homemade Hobnobs!

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Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember, be kind!


 

12 comments:

Sybil said...

Wonderfully written Marie. It is a very sad state of affairs that we find ourselves in. I really don't know how we are going to get back to a more caring society. I certaily think that camera's should be in every room and if ever found to be shut off or even being placed so that the carers can not be seen, immediate action should be taken...perhaps an independant person should be employed to check the camera's every day...and that at least would be one way to prevent the damage done to some poor old people...if a care home has nothing to hide it should welcome them...thankfully the bad homes are in the minority but they are the ones who we remember and put fear into older people who may need to be in care..It is somthing we all must pray daily about that good care is being given in any home especially any that are near us..and perhaps a visit to a home by anyone would help as well, the old folks are always in need of company...
Hope that you have a lovely day. The think fg we had hearlier is lifting now and it is warming up nicely.

Tracey Steele@Breathing English Air said...

As a former nurse, I find it very upsetting that we have come to this. It all went wrong when managers with absolutely no medical or nursing knowledge were appointed to make the health care system more efficient. Mind you, the private sector is no better. I received appalling 'care' when I was in a BUPA hospital.

Cathyjo said...


I to do not want to go in a care home,I seen what they are like, I wearer die.Its everywhere.and not just the poorer place's.I could tell some sad going on's.I try not to think on then.All I know is to pray about it,and keep on.And hpe I get to die in my own bed.Take Care.((HUGS))

Suze said...

I have worked as a Registered Nurse and a special education teacher of very low level children and the care that many receive horrifies me. I have been a patient in public and private hospitals and the best care i have had was in a huge public hospital.


I hate that we are actively putting dad into a care home but after 18 plus years of needing help every day It is now too much. One person cannot watch him 24 hours a day. Dementia is tough. We have looked and have settled on a place a long way from home because some of the local places are atrocious.

God bless and I pray that most of us have no need of full time care. Unfortunately for some it is necessary.

Marie Rayner said...

I agree Sybil, cameras should be put into all rooms and an independent person assigned to check that they are working as they should be. Like you, I think that if people are doing their jobs properly there is nothing to fear from having camera's in the rooms and everything to gain. If people knew they were being watched they would probably act quite differently, with immediate consequences for those who are behaving as they should not. I also think better training needs to be given to the carers, and that they need to be paid a fair wage commiserate with their training and expertise.

At the Care Home I worked in when I first moved over here I was appalled at the so called "Care given" and was demoted to a cleaner as soon as it became apparent I cared too much and was making the other girls look bad. The residents liked me, but the other carers did not because they said I was "too slow." ie, I did not rush the residents in and out of the dining room at meal time, took time to speak with them at all times, and made sure they got properly washed instead of having a flannel flung at them and told to wash their bits. (I was horrified by that when I first saw it happening!) The "carers" spent more time talking to each other than they did the residents. I went home in tears quite often.

I agree with you Tracey. Administration has taken the quality out of care as too much time is being taken filling out forms etc. whilst staff are being cut to maximize profits. You see it all across the public sector.

I know how you feel Cathy Jo, I feel the same, but unfortunately I think I will be one of those that ends up in a care home. I truly dread it and hope that I die first.

Suzan, I know how you must feel as well. You have done your best to care for your father and mother in your home. Dementia is a horrific disease. I hope that you are able to get your father into a good place where he will truly be "cared" for! xxoo

Suze said...

Actually I had a rant yesterday. Twice a week we have people come in to help and they are no help. Yesterday dad was in bed and I went up to the woman to tell her to do her chores first and leave dad sleep. So she woke him with, " I have to be up so get up John."

Marie Rayner said...

Suzan, that's terrible!! Another problem as well is you are probably afraid if you complain they will be worse to your father. I know that at the home I worked in any of the residents that were vocal were treated with great disdain and negativity. It was really sad.

La Table De Nana said...

Tragic state of affairs in the health care system in many cases..
20 yrs ago Jacques' dad was in a home.. because he needed full time health care..We feel he was so well treated.
And he did too..
Things have declined.. in serious manner.
I have had the time to think ..and I would not want to be a burden on my family and change their lives..but I sure as heck would want a camera in my room making sure someone there cared.
I love the word CARE ..care for each other..kindness..etc..
The medical system is overwhelmed..
I often think we are just numbers.
It really is too bad.
God put his knowledge into their hands on earth to be kind and caring...and healing.
It's a privilege to be a health care practitioner.
Did you see the movie with William Hurt? The Doctor?
He changes..

Oh and let's not talk about the arrogance of some doctors..:(

On the other hand..
There are some pretty amazing ones..
Unfortunately we often speak more of bad news than good news like I just did.

Marie Rayner said...

Wonderfully insightful comment Monique! I did see that film with William Hurt and he did change. I am not sure what the answer is, but I truly put love of money at the top of my list as reasons why this is happening! We are taught that the "love of money" is evil. I am sure this is part of the reason why. It causes people to behave badly People have no pride in a job well done any longer. My late father in law was a window washer. It wasn't a great job, but it was work and he was the best window washer around! He didn't make tons of money at it. I was always taught that any job worth doing was worth doing well. And even if my employer doesn't recognize my worth, God does and I do it for Him more than anyone, so that one day I can stand with my head held up instead of bowed in shame. I hope I never have to go into a home, but if I ever do, like you I WANT a camera in my room! xxoo

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It seems it is the same all over. Unless you have money for private care we are left with little options. Compassionate caring is needed and with people living longer there are more and more that need care. Such a sad situation and definitely one that needs improvement. Makes one wonder what will become of us when we are old and feeble for sure.

Brenda Evans said...

What a great post today Marie. It is so true even here in the States. I have told my daughter that if she ever puts me in a nursing home and I have any brain cells left I will run away and live on the streets. I would rather fend for myself than be in a nursing home. That is so sad that people who need the most care and compassion get the least of it.

Marie Rayner said...

Pam, you have such a lovely family I am sure someone would step up to the plate. I hope it never comes to that for any of us!

You are right Brenda, and it's not only the elderly and the sick and infirm, but also the developmentally challenged as well. It seems there is always someone only too willing to take advantage of or abuse others!

It's a really sad statement about today's society.