Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

one person’s attitude December 17, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:20 pm
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My dad is in the hospital this week. I watched with dismay how one harried and dismissive LPN managed to set an entire room in disarray. My father– weak, blind and quite deaf–was in quite a state, knowing something was going on, but helpless to deal with it, and not clear about what it was. I caught enough talk between patients and staff while I was there to know he hadn’t imagined things.

One person’s skill set makes all the difference. One person who is knowledgeable, pleasant, courteous, and respectful of the patients can improve the environment. A person who is sharp, unwilling to listen, dismissive of concerns or desires, causes more trouble, and more problems erupt.

As my father tried to explain what he had experienced, and I tried to offer (what I thought were) logical interpretations, he shook his head and remarked, “This is what makes people think they’re going crazy.” He was right. He didn’t have the picture completely right, but he had enough of it to set off alarm bells. I wonder how often this happens in extended care facilities? The elderly patients may frantically try to explain what they’ve experienced, and because their hearing or visual impairments make some of their observations unclear, and their interpretations may seem a little whacky, and their slurred speech requires some concentration to attend to their meaning, do people think the elderly person is hallucinating?

It is a valuable lesson on how one person’s incompetencies can negatively impact others. Attempting to mask incompetencies just leads to more problems, like ripples spreading in a pond. Listen. Find the problem. Attend.


2 Responses to “one person’s attitude”

  1. fabulousrn Says:

    Great post! I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced this downside of healthcare! It’s really unfortunate. It makes me just want to scream when I witness actions like those of your father’s LPN, it’s just terrible. People are sick, in the hospital, and vulnerable and when they are down even 1-2 senses (hearing, seeing are the biggest!) it makes a huge difference in communication. I’m glad you were there to support him, it’s so important to be involved and say something. You may come across as harsh or mean but trust me, they’ll take notice and maybe they’ll think twice or try harder with the next patient (hopefully!!). Please read this post about empathy and nursing and I hope that you’ll see there are some people who really do care! 🙂

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      Hi Kellie- my dad has had an amazing team since he was admitted. This particular LPN was the only one I’ve met who alarmed me, but the issue for me was how her way of dealing with patients led to him having something akin to a panic attack. I thought dad was hallucinating when he grabbed me and started describing what had been going on. Then I watched this woman in action for 2 hours, overhearing her interactions with other patients and staff. As I kept listening to his complaints, it all came clear what had happened. It was such a contrast to the skillful work of the other staff members, that it was worthy of comment. It made it so clear how one unskilled member can be the root of so many problems.

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