When we moved mom last Saturday, I noticed mom did not have her own toothbrush so when I went to see mom yesterday I brought her a toothbrush, toothpaste, emery board, etc. Thank goodness, I did. When mom saw me, she lowered her head, put her hands over her entire face and shook her head. I said, “Mom, what’s wrong?” Mom said, “Julienne, you have to help me. I can’t do this. You must change my room. I can’t live like this.” What she told me made my blood boil.
What I learned was that mom’s roommate pees all over her room. She has the problem so many seniors face of incontinence, but she refuses to wear panties that are like an adult diaper. When the aides tell her to wear panty diapers, she gets very angry because she doesn’t feel she needs them. She often walks around with wet pants. When she finally realizes that her pants are wet, she goes into their washroom and takes them off, hanging her dirty panties and pants on the railing that mom needs to hold on to. You can imagine the smell alone is awful, but for mom to be subject to someone else’s excrements is cruel and disgusting.
Mom also shared that her roommate goes to the toilet by herself, however she sometimes misses the toilet and may pee or pooh on the seat and floor. Of course, mom knows this because she doesn’t flush or clean up her mess. What mom described would be a nightmare for anyone.
She also always has a habit of closing the door to their room when she leaves. This is a major problem because housekeeping will not go in the room if they see the door closed. Housekeeping respects their privacy. They assume that the door is closed because someone is dressing or going to the washroom. Their room could be passed up for cleaning.
In addition to her roommate problem, Mom told me that the night nurse is not allowing mom to wear her own nightgown. The night aide is making mom wear a hospital gown. Mom said she was very cold because their hospital gown is short sleeve. I spoke with her aide to see if my mom was wearing a hospital gown when she came to dress her this morning. She said that mom was correct. Now I was livid. Why in the world would the night nurse not let my mom were her own nightgown.
The aide was very sweet; she informed me that she would put a note on my mom’s closet to say that Gilda’s family wants her to wear her own nightgown to bed. The aide also said that when she is working she will make sure to check their washroom. If her dirty panties and pants are hanging in the washroom, she would alert housekeeping. She also said that she knows her roommate always closes the door to their room and will try to keep opening it and will remind her not to close it. She said, however, she can only promise this while she is working. If I am not happy, I should definitely talk with the head of nursing.
Mom said, “Please, Julienne, go and talk to her. I have been telling everyone here my problems, but they say your family must speak up.” Mom said, “I lie in bed and pray: God please help me.” I promised I would go and talk while she was at lunch. I assured her that I was unhappy with her situation and would do my best to make things right. She told me again and again that she loved me. She kept saying, “Help me, Julienne, help me.”
I walked to the head of nursing’s office, but the door was closed. So I went next door to the social services department to speak with her case worker. She listened as I told her what I had uncovered. I was told that the head of nursing was on jury duty so she went with me to talk with the assistant head of nursing.
I explained that prior to my mom moving into her new room I had gone to check it out. I noticed her roommate’s panties and pants hanging in the washroom. I was told that her roommate would be instructed to remove her panties and pants from the washroom and not to hang them there anymore. They told me that housekeeping would clean the washroom and there would be no problem. After relaying the current situation; I told them both these issues are not acceptable. They agreed.
The assistant head of nursing promised to take care of these problems and look into a room change. I mentioned that I was told a few days ago that the only other rooms available were in 2 East. The residents in 2 East are extremely sick and some of the residents there are on hospice.
The admissions person offered to show me the other rooms before making a decision. There were two other rooms: one was a room with three beds where my mom would have had the middle bed; the other room was a room with 2 beds, but the room was at the end of a long corridor in 2 East. In my mom’s present condition, she is way too coherent to be placed with these extremely sick people. In fact, while she was giving me the tour of 2 East tears were rolling down my cheeks. I could not imagine my mother being there in her present state.
The assistant head of nursing told me that she would call me before the end of her work day to let me know how they were going to handle this. I thanked her and left.
While I walked to the car, I wondered if anything would change. Had I done the right thing? Would they help mom? I had no reason to believe that they wouldn’t because they have always been fair.
Anyone would notice from the first moment they walk into The Community* that it is a first class healthcare facility. Our family has had the pleasure of having mom make their supportive community and this healthcare facility her home for the past five years. They have always been there for us. We have always been happy with their staff and their cleanliness.
All I knew is that I was glad I stopped there today.
Later that day: The assistant head of nursing did call me to tell me she did not have an answer yet. The staff was looking at making some room changes and would discuss them in their meeting on Tuesday morning. I reminded her that I do not want mom in a 3 bedroom or in 2 East because I would consider that punishing mom for bringing her problems forefront. The assistant head of nursing stated they would never want any resident or family member to feel that they were being punished. She assured me that she would call me after the meeting tomorrow.
My frustration level was at an all time high. My anxiety permeated throughout my body. I thought I could have a nervous breakdown. What happens to people when they don’t have an advocate to speak for them?
Last night, I went to bed praying that the healthcare facility would do the right thing for mom. When I woke this morning, I realized that today is my dad’s birthday. Guido would be 101 if he were alive. I prayed to him to help me help mom.
At 11:38am today, I received a call from the social worker. She informed me that they will be moving mom to room 113 tomorrow morning. I thanked her and told her I would be there for her move.
A thank you goes out to The Community*, to my dad, and Our Heavenly Father.