Knowing the patient? We never knew Mabel.
Mabel died today. Minutes later, a nurse hurried down the hall carrying two old books. She stopped and excitedly showed me what the staff found when they cleaned Mabel’s room. She held up books on physics. “Mabel wrote them! Can you believe that? I never knew she wrote anything.”
We had cared for Mabel for six years, but none of our staff knew she had written any books. When she came to us, Mabel was already afflicted with Alzheimer disease. We learned later, after her death, that Mabel had been a prominent physicist.
As I listened to the nurse, I thought. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Mabel could have enjoyed our expressions of respect, awe, and admiration? Now it was too late.
That true story isn’t an isolated instance. Too often the nursing home staff learns information about residents from reading the obituaries. The individual life stories never make it to direct care staff, even if it had been told to social workers on admission. The story had been diluted to minimum facts on a fill-in sheet at the back of the chart under the social service tab.
Book excerpt from: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance
In this time of cost cutting, healthcare workers managing more than one job to make ends meet, and the multitude of problems with patients requiring more care, it is hard to get to know the patient. This book provides the information for anyone, friend or family member to become actively involved in a patient’s care. When there is a patient and a caregiver involved, it is the family who knows the patient and can provide that bridge between the two.
Click on the picture of the book, on this page, learn how to become part of the team creating person centered care for your love one.
Virginia Garberding RN
Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing