A Not-Political, Random, Myopic and Largely Irrelevant View on Nursing Homes

I don’t use my blog as any kind of political platform. In fact, if I’ve done my job, you don’t know what my politics are. That’s the kind of blog this is. I think it’s fine to have a blog about your politics, but mine is about faith, family and work. Politics intersect, yes, but I choose not to keep someone from reading my blog because of my (surely flawed) political opinions.

So you won’t know my view of Obamacare or anti-Obamacare agendas here. Here’s what you will know:

1. Health care workers try hard, and sometimes it’s just not enough. There are so many needs and so little time and manpower to deal with the needs. I’ve seen really caring people care for my mom, and sometimes it is just not enough. Not enough time, or compassion, or knowledge. Health care workers are people, and those in nursing homes need to have a shell or the sadness will eat you up. Sometimes that shell is too tough and feelings get hurt. Sometimes that shell is not developed enough and attachments become problematic.

2. Nursing homes can be happy one day and super sad the next. They can be hilariously funny places to hang out, and other days you can be counting the seconds until you can hit the elevator button to go home. I’ve seen some trivia sessions at the nursing home that simply left me in tears over how much fun people were having (and how funny the answers were), and then there are days when everyone needs and there can’t be enough attention to these needs. Those are the sad days.

3. The nursing home where my mom is does a good job of communication. I think some of my consulting clients and former employers could take a cue from this overworked, underfunded nursing home. It’s not perfect, but when someone says they will call me back, they do. When someone says they will communicate an important fact about my mom’s care, they usually do that pretty quickly. I’m mildly impressed, which is as impressed as I get.

4. I go from being satisfied to completely unsatisfied in an instant. Often that has less to do with the care offered than the emotional circumstances of the day.

5. I’m exhausted. My family’s exhausted. My mom is exhausted most of all. And I bet everyone working at the nursing home is exhausted. It’s all exhausting. Sleep is your friend when you are dealing with a family member in hospice (and when you are a health care professional who cares and works hard but it’s still never enough).

I am grateful for my mom’s care and even for this very exhausting journey. I have no answers about why my mom has to pay so much for care that sometimes seems to fall short, or what this country should do about it.

But I do know that if we put politics aside, just for the time it takes to visit someone in a nursing home, you’ll see the messy battle that is life and death, a battle you can also find in the workplace, in the home, and in the international political arena. Lots of battles are still to be fought, and they’ll be exhausting.

But the war has been won.

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