Friday, October 26, 2007

Real Caregiving

Did you hear the NPR story about the residents from an LA area nursing home that were evacuated to the Qualcomm Stadium? (Read a related story.)

The NPR reporter, who observed the care given to the residents by staff during an afternoon, shared a story about individuals who provided remarkable care for the residents, even during the most trying of circumstances.

While residents tried to rest in uncomfortable army cots, staff sang “Take me Out to the Ballgame” with them, and joked about coming to Qualcomm Stadium for this, instead of a ballgame.

When a resident’s “diapers” (the reporter’s words) needed to be changed, the staff would hold up blankets in a circle around the person, allowing him/her privacy in a very non-private situation.

I smiled as I listened to this story, thinking, “Here are folks who really get it – who understand that caring for elders is not simply making sure the right medicines are given at the right time, and that the body is well cared for.”

Caring – the right way – for seniors means using creativity and knowing that whatever the circumstances, caring for the PERSON is the most important part of the job.

That’s why when we’re training new caregivers we need to start with the basics: not bathing, dressing and grooming, but rather WHY we do what we do, and how to preserve the person’s dignity, privacy and promote independence in every single aspect of care we provide.

Those are the kinds of caregivers that I want caring for my mother – and ultimately, for me.

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