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.