Saturday, June 26, 2010

Long Term Care Ombudsman Musings

June started off with presenting my information on Culture Change in Long Term Care at our local Care Connection Meeting headed up by Liz Cohen. I was surprised to see how many showed up and the way they seemed to eat up the information! It was a lively meeting with many comments by the audience. I love it when I can see sparks flying through a group knowing that they won't soon forget some of what I find worth sharing.

I have been energized by that Ombudsman weekend in Portland. My next step is to share my workshop on abuse in long term care. Abuse is such a gray issue. Sometimes I find myself not sure whether something should be reported or not. When in question, report. That gives the question to those much more qualified to decide whether abuse has taken place. I will share this next presentation once I get it typed up here on my blog.

We have a new Long Term Care facility here in Brookings, Oregon community. Sea View is like entering a fine hotel with a huge gathering place immediately upon crossing the front door. There are always groups of people at the many tables. Some are investigating whether or not to take up residency and some are residents enjoying getting together over lunch or listening to a talk or performance that has been brought in.

My friend Elmo Williams told me yesterday that he had given a talk there. Elmo is someone who recognizes good food and his report on the food was heartening. I find that I often do not even recognize what residents are being served in some facilities and here the food is presented as if it were a nice restaurant. I hope in a year or two I won't witness the food becoming much the same as anywhere else. I would love the cooks in all Long Term Care facilities to go to Sea View for lunch to see what is possible.

As an Ombudsman I need to stay objective. I will stay alert and not assume that all is perfect just because the food and facility is pretty!

Chetco Inn, a Residential Care Facility, is having a pot luck today. I've been invited to bring my mother. I think we will swing by as I hear it is always a good time. I like to see my residents having a good time.

The least favorite thing about being a Certified Ombudsman is writing up the reports. I find if I keep a running commentary on my computer with dates and times, I can assess whether a report should be written up along with notes about my residents helps me remember them and special information to help me serve them better. I feel good getting to know everyone better the more experience I have.

While I was at Sea View the other day, I sat in Memory Care with a resident sharing a cup of coffee and just chatting mostly about what she wanted to talk about. I feel I know her in a personal way. If I saw her at the grocery store, I would now feel she was like a neighbor eager to greet her and even give her a sincere hug. I'd like to have relationships like that with each and every resident I represent.

I have a male resident at one of my facilities that initially pretty well told me where I could go in no uncertain terms. Through meeting with him several times now, I feel he now even likes me and I have learned to like him. I think I might be a bit testy if I had lost my ability to communicate effectively and was stuck in a wheel chair somewhere I didn't really want to be. It is always good to put myself in their shoes before I go off thinking they don't deserve my attention.

I am sharing this stuff on my blog in a casual manner using no names or private information so that you out there bothering to read this might just spend some of your time being a friend for someone in long term care. Everyone deserves a best friend to off load on or just share with. Wouldn't it be special if each long term care resident had a "best friend"? The sad truth is many of them have no family, no friends and find themselves staring at the walls wondering why life ended up like it has. Now, some are still very much involved with life making the best of their situation and maybe even choosing to be where they are. Not all are suffering, but many are. I see dull eyes, lack of interest in much while hating the food, resenting sitting for way too many hours with nothing to do that interest them and missing their former lives. As human beings I feel we have a mission to make life better for those in need. I hope you find yourself motivated to stop by your local "old age home" to volunteer. Thanks for doing this! We never know if we will be one of them any day now.

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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.