Behind Closed Doors

Morgan - Edwardsville, Illinois
Entered on October 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe the things such as elderly abuse, stealing, and taking advantage of others remains mostly unseen in nursing care facilities. I had found a job to work as a nursing assistant at Regency Nursing Home. This nursing home was one of the best in the Springfield, Illinois area, or so it seemed on the outside.

My first day of work was different, it wasn’t like the first day of your average job. Usually when one starts a new job they go through orientation. I was put on the spot and had to start working. I was never told where anything was, or who the residents I would be caring for. I was put in the Alzheimer’s Unit, which mainly consists of people who are incontinent and can no longer remember their own family members.

A lot of nursing assistants just want to get the job done and do it as fast as possible without any proper bedside manner. An example of this would be: I was trying to remember how to do perineal care the proper, text book way, until the nurse assistant I was shadowing started flipping the resident over onto their side and ripping the Depends off her. She then took the wet wipes and started vigorously wiping the resident the improper way. I didn’t say anything, all I could do is look into this resident’s lost eyes and just feel completely sorry for her .

When most people think of abuse, they think of the physical form, but elderly abuse consists more of the verbal form. The most things I heard coming from different nursing assistant’s mouths were, “Do it yourself”, “Stop crying now”, or the dreaded, “Your mother is dead!”. One memory sticks in my mind like glue. It was breakfast time and most of the people in the dining hall were “feeders”. I looked over and noticed that one man hadn’t even touched anything and breakfast time was nearly over. I came over to him and asked him if he was hungry and he shook his head “yes”. I then started to cut up his breakfast into smaller pieces when all of a sudden, I heard a nurse assistant yell at me and say, “He can feed himself. He’s just lazy!” I disagreed with this, because when he tried to feed himself, his hands trembled so badly that all his food would fall into his lap.

Another dirty secret of the nursing home life is stealing. Anything from a small candy bar to expensive jewels are stolen. The family members are the ones to say something but, the residents without family, which is a vast majority of them, have their items stolen. One day I was sitting at the nurse’s station, and I had overheard someone saying that a nursing assistant was fired because he or she was caught stealing.

I never realized that this job would be one of the toughest I have ever had. Since have had worked there I have cried at least twice, and pulled all the muscles in my back. In the beginning, the nurse manager Amy, had hired me on the spot, I now know the reason why. It’s because people that work there don’t last long, its somewhat unbearable –mentally and physically.