A daughter thanks RPNs who care for her Mom

A personal message to RPNs

caring for our loved ones

A Thunder Bay woman is thankful for the professional care provided to her mother in a long-term care facility.
(File Photo)

By Patty Bates

My mother has been a resident in a long-term care (LTC) home in Thunder Bay for the past two years. I’m her only child here in the city.

Like many older folks, Mom’s journey into LTC started after a series of falls at home that eventually landed her in a rehab hospital, where she stayed for 15 months waiting for a bed in a LTC residence. Unfortunately, such wait times are not unusual in Thunder Bay, where at any given time there can be as many as 750 people on the waiting list, while only 30 beds become available each month.

Fortunately, Mom’s general health is stable, but she does require a lot of care. She needs help dressing and undressing, maintaining oral hygiene, and ensuring she receives her medications on-time. She also requires extra attention when she experiences tremors and Dystonia episodes associated with her Parkinson’s Disease, which happens numerous times a day.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONAL CARE

For this, we really count on the Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) on Mom’s unit. She’s been going through a lot of changes with her medications and disease progression, so I rely on the RPNs to monitor the effects of those changes, for better or worse, and to provide observations that I can share with her doctor.

When Mom was in the rehab hospital, waiting for a bed, it became clear just how important it is to have her in a home close to me. Now, I can easily get her to appointments on time, join her for lunch, participate in music programs, or simply go for a walk with her in a nearby park.

I’m also involved in the home’s Family Council, working toward the continuous improvement of care, which has helped both Mom and I develop a bond with so many other residents and their families. In fact, the families often support each other when there’s a loss of a loved one.

Isolation is a serious problem with seniors, so being close by and spending time with Mom and actively encouraging her to interact with other residents and their families has provided her with tremendous benefit and reassurance.

The RPN staff also encourage Mom to get out of her room and play cards or participate in activities with other residents. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a senior living in a LTC home, away from their community, without family support, or a caring nursing and support team on the floor.

WORKING TOGETHER

The truth is, we’ve had some real challenges as Mom’s condition changes. At times I’ve felt like it’s ‘all on me’. One evening, I mentioned feeling “overwhelmed” to the RPN on duty and his response was such a relief. He replied with true empathy and compassion, “It’s on us, too”. Those few simple words took such a weight off my shoulders, as I realized I’m really not doing this alone.

I’m not sure whether all RPNs in LTC facilities fully understand how important they are to residents and their families, but the truth is we’re leaving our loved ones in your care.

When it comes to care, you play the biggest role in Mom’s day-to-day life and, as such, there’s tremendous trust that develops between resident, nurse, and family. I’m truly thankful for your kind and thoughtful attention to my mother and for your continued insights into her ongoing health and well-being.

I’m glad we’re on this journey together.

Filed in: Commentary, Education

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