One of my biggest concerns when I put Ma into the nursing home was the care of her chronic leg ulcer which has been ‘going’ for 5 to 6 years. On the two previous instances Ma was in respite care her ulcer has gone downhill. In one case ending up with a hospital stay. So, when Ma went into care I tried to circumnavigate any problems by being proactive. I supplied instructions from the Ulcer Clinic, dressings (Acticoat Flex 3 – a silver dressing) and talked about my concerns to the registered nurse (RN) and anybody else who would listen. They are all very good listeners and ‘agree-ers’ but unfortunately not very good at following through.
The first two weeks passed without too much incidence… I noticed Ma didn’t have the Blue Tubifast applied to her leg (as per protocol) and was informed that it would have to be ordered in. One month later and no Tubifast appeared. I kept on querying…
The point I want to make with this post, is the need to document things and be proactive. This nursing home is one of the better ones…
- On Saturday 16 July, I noticed the bandage had only been applied over the ulcer site and that it was leaking through the bandage. I reported it in the morning and again in the afternoon. On Sunday, 24 July, I reported it again. No response.
- On Saturday 23 July, I noticed the ulcer had leaked through the bandage (bandage still being done just over ulcer site). I was told I could contact Ma’s doctor and I did. He attended and looked at the ulcer and prescribed Keflex for possible infection. After waiting around 40 minutes for the Registered Nurse (RN) to come and dress her leg I chased it up and was informed that it wasn’t time for the dressing trolley and we would have to wait. I watched the RN bandage her leg (she informed me she had never done it before, so I talked her through it). Again I expressed my concerns over the ‘care’ of Ma’s leg.
- On Wednesday 27 July I arrived to find only Acticoat Flex 3 on Ma’s leg with the soiled dressing on the floor, there was no sign of a bandage. Ma told me it had fallen off on Tuesday night. I reported it. The RN dressed her leg as per the protocol, I explained to the RN my concerns and was told they would talk to the doctor as they were concerned about the oedema in her leg. I sent a photo of the ulcer to the doctor and explained that the RN would call him. The doctor attended Ma the next day, Thursday 28 July morning with a RN attending.
- On Friday 29 July afternoon, I asked what the outcome had been and was told somebody would ring me. Nobody did.
- It was then I realised I would never be listened to at this level and rang the manager of the nursing home. He listened to my concerns and promised things would change.
- My sister queried Ma’s leaky leg again on Saturday 30 July and was told the RN would dress it again after her lunch at 2. I arrived on Sunday 31 July and found the dressing hadn’t been changed (to our knowledge).
- On Monday I met with the manager and discussed Ma’s treatment. I showed him photos and he agreed that the treatment of her was unacceptable. He promised he would see to it that a care plan was drawn up for her leg, with consultation with me, and that all the RNs would have to sign off on it. If I noticed any deviations from this, they would discipline the person responsible.
- On Tuesday I arrived to find that Ma’s other leg had a dressing on it with blood still on her leg… The injury had apparently just occurred. The new aide had brought Ma back from breakfast and had been a bit too enthusiastic in her care causing Ma to stumble and cut her leg on the wheelchair. (Ma is down for a tray in her room for breakfast but they keep trying to force her into the dinning room…)
- I received a phone call while I was there, reporting the damage to Ma’s leg. The RN came and talked me though ma’s dressing plus her care of Ma’s leg and that she’d reported it to the doctor… this was the same RN who’d previously had no time for me… somebody must have put a burr under her saddle!!
- Later that day the Nursing Manager called me wanting to meet and discuss Ma’s care. She told me Ma’s treatment was unacceptable. She also wants to show me a couple of dressings she feels may give Ma some relief. We meet tomorrow.
After one month of fighting, we have come to this. Why?
What about the other residents that have no advocate?
- Document, document, document and document some more. Photos and dates and notes.
- I had learnt from previous experience that things will probably go wrong. Be prepared!
- If you are concerned or worried, express your concerns. If nobody listens at the lower levels, go higher.