This is our year, mind you we’re a bit busy with a pandemic and the reality is a treadmill of working full out, sheltering in place, social distancing and #TogetherWeCanDoIt. As many figure out how to protect their families, a number of nurses have to choose whether to attend to their children or aging parents, indeed the sandwich generation.
The tragedy of the death rates in Long Term Care and Nursing Homes has unveiled the reality we, as nurses, already knew–insufficient staffing to meet residents’ needs, multiple occupancy rooms, skill mix of staff a series of changes that originated from the 1990’s. Now I preface my words with the proviso that some care facilities are providing quality care to residents by obtaining/re-issuing personal protection equipment, testing residents and staff daily and created pathways to keep residents and their families informed on health status, public health directives etc.
The poignancy of no family presence is heavily experienced by those individual seniors with cognitive challenges related to dementia and their routines have been challenging. The changes in appearances with masks, visors, different routines i.e. eating in rooms, change in feeding support, will inevitably alter these residents’ outcomes. The need for patterns, the presence of families, the identified drawback that social media is not a successful strategy for a number of residents.
Kudos though to nurses who provide empathy at critical junctures of Ontarians’ lives, for birth, critical care, some cancer programs, and palliative care by using their personal electronic devices so extended family can speak to loved ones. We also see the spirit of nursing as they clap out a graduate from the intensive care, celebrating the defeat of the virus, and bow their heads and shed tears when a patient succumbs.
Florence Nightingale would be impressed with this generation of nurses who are reporting for duty with hope, fear, uncertainty, and a respect for the impact of a pandemic virus. Even more the knowledge, implementation of evidence-based care, and the art of nursing. The hand on a shoulder of a patient fighting for breath, whispering to them that they’re not alone. Standing by as family member/spouse spend precious minutes with a patient who is actively dying. Nightingale would advise that our great resource the nurse must also be supported, be able to access processes to heal and work through the continuum of burnout, compassion fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder.
“….unsee the unseeable. Pandemics are not pleasant, not business as usual.”
No amount of meals, free coffee, front of the line at groceries, parades of first responders can help nurses to “unsee the unseeable”. Pandemics are not pleasant, not business as usual. Blessings to all the nurses who have shown up to provide nursing care and when the new normal settles into a routine speak out on what has been learned, Florence the great epidemiologist would expect nothing less. 2020 our year to be nurses, to be the innovators in a pandemic, to be a team of excellence in health-care, and to empathize with the world those who were taken before their time. Namaste.
Registered Nurse Storyteller, Healer, Scribe, Transformational Leader