9.5 is a beautiful number.
It is the number of hours I slept last night. Straight through, no interruptions. Just me and the Sand Man who filled my head with dreams I no longer remember. Snoring. Breathing. SLEEPING!
This weekend was STNA hell weekend at work. There are 47 beds on my unit and unless someone dies those beds represent 47 lives that need our ongoing care and love. With just 5 aides and 2 nurses this means we are hopping on a good day. Each of us has either 9 or 10 of those old souls to take care of each day, our regularly assigned residents if we are permanent on the unit, or they are simply who the aide primarily cares for on a given day. But we are responsible for ALL the residents in the facility, they are all our residents.
Saturday we had a call off, and they pulled an aide from us to another floor. We work with 5 aides and one aide is on from 6am-10am to help with getting 4 residents up, showering any of those 4 who need it, and helping to feed. This aide is like having a shot of adrenaline to the rest of us, as this is a huge help. Our 6-10 person had to take over a hallway, leaving us one aide short for the morning. But then at 10am, we dropped down to only 3 aides. This means each of the aides had 15 people, and one had 16 to care for, as we had one pass away at the end of the week. When you have 9 people to get out of bed, provide peri-care for (means washing their genital areas before putting on their diapers/pull-ups), dress and either feed or get them to the dinning room, you are busting your tail. With 46 people and 4 aides, it means 11 people each, two aides being responsible for 12.
Of those 46 people there are at least 8 or more that we either need to feed, or assist with eating.
Our days are packed full to begin with:
- Get Mr/Mrs awake.
- Clean them up (as in remove diaper and wash them, apply new diaper) or assist them in using a walker to get to the bathroom.
- Get them dressed, some cannot assist with this.
- Transfer to a wheelchair, usually by way of a gait belt and pivoting or using a hoyer or stand-up lift.
- Transport to the common area or dining room.
- Return to resident room and make the bed, sometimes stripping it due to incontinence overflow.
- Take dirty linens and trash (trash is emptied every time we change them to keep the place from smelling bad) to the soiled linen/trash closet.
This can take 10-20 minutes per resident depending on how much help they can be with the process. If they had a major BM blowout, it is going to take a lot longer. (Oh and if it is that resident’s shower day, you need to add on another 20 minutes to get them to the shower room, into a shower chair, shower them and then get them dressed.) Some we can roll into the bathroom and they do their own wash up/teeth while we go to the next room to begin the process again. Lifts require a second person there to spot you so we bounce around on the unit helping each other a lot.
So needless to say, when it dropped to just 3 aides on Saturday, it was insane. Yesterday we had one person leave sick at 12, and another aide was only scheduled to work a partial shift, so we did it with 3 aides again.
I was exhausted when I got home both nights, and into bed very early. 12.5 hours of pushing through that and eating lunch on the fly (thankfully yesterday we had a quiet time while most residents were in watching a live performance) and praying no one had a fall, blow-out or other crisis.
We got through this weekend due to teamwork. The 3 of us working pulled together and ran interference for and with each other. Our nurses pitched in where and when they could and we made it work. And NONE of us want to have to do that again. But we know it will happen, it always does in winter thanks to heavy snow days, illness, and sadly laziness at times.
My hat is off to my teammates this weekend, we rocked it!