I read in the paper today about a nursing assistant lost her certification due to “runaway wheelchairs”, whereas the resident of one of the runaway chairs sustained bruises, scrapes and abrasions. I thought to myself how difficult this must be for the nursing assistant involved in this situation. Not knowing all of the facts to the story, I merely assume she was a well meaning nursing assistant who took the residents outside for fresh air, forgot to lock the wheelchairs, and the rest is history.
There are so many safeguards and regulations in place in the long term health care industry, almost to the point where we as caregivers are afraid to do anything except basic care within the watchful microscope of the authorities. If I take a resident outside and she falls, am I liable for a lawsuit? If I am pushing a wheelchair outside and suddenly the resident falls from the chair, will I lose my license to operate the facility? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for regulations, rules and standards of care, but sometimes I do think the “authorities” take common accidents and make them into a oversized scandal. Again, I do not know the whole story about this young lady with the “runaway” wheelchairs, but I do know long term health care is a profession where humans provide care for humans and last time I checked, no person is infallible. Accidents will happen. Resident will get out of their wheelchairs. Residents will unlock their own wheelchairs and put themselves in harms way, not knowing they are doing so. These things happen, and just because one nursing assistant forgot to lock a wheelchair, lawsuits will arise, damages will be awarded, the nursing assistant will lose her license, the facility will be sanctioned, the administrator will stand before the board and explain how this all happened, defending his/her license as well. All because someone FORGOT something.
Stories like this keep me awake at night. I worry about the well being of every resident in my facility. I worry about the staff providing the care, hoping they don’t forget any step in their job duties, I worry about being sued for something no one could have prevented; on and on the list of worries go.
But you know what? I keep going back to work every single day. I go because I love what I do, I love the geriatric population, I am rewarded greatly every day on the job.
We are humans caring for humans. Mistakes will happen. But that’s the price we pay to do the job we love. I just hope one day caregivers will be recognized for the care they provide, not just making the headlines when they forgot to lock a runaway wheelchair.