25 Things You Learn When Working in a Nursing Home — Humor Intended, by Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.

Today’s post is courtesy of dietitian Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.  For more from Wendy, check out her blog at http://happydietitian.wordpress.com


25 Things You Learn When Working in a Nursing Home — Humor Intended

1.  Positive attitude works wonders. Have a sense of humor.
2.  Hand-washing saves lives.
3.  A patient asking the same question over and over again becomes a little funny rather than annoying.
4.  How to lock and operate a wheel chair and recliner.
5.  How difficult it is to move a recliner.

6.  Death isn’t scary, it’s peaceful most times.
7.  Dementia is the saddest disease. Period.
8.  What DNR, HCP, and ADL stands for (Do Not Resuscitate/Health Care Proxy/Activities of Daily Living).
9.  What C-diff poop smells like (so wash your hands!).
10.  Most of us will end up wearing diapers. Sad truth.

11.  Appreciation for independence in ADL. Appreciation for walking, running, breathing, seeing, feeding oneself, hearing, tasting, moving…
12.  Marinol (a drug used as an appetite stimulant) is medical marijuana and very expensive.
13.  Prednisone will make you look like a pumpkin.
14.  Psych medications for the patients keep the STAFF from going crazy. =P
15.  Nurses are the ones who rescue the patient when there’s a medical emergency, not doctors (most times).

16.  Use fixodent to hold in dentures.
17.  Patience.
18.  A mysterious puddle of clear liquid on the floor is most likely pee.
19.  A mysterious brown smudge is most likely poop.
20.  What a UTI smells like (fish market).

21.  The recreation dept is super important. Entertainment soothes the soul.
22.  Just because the patient has no teeth doesn’t mean he/she can’t eat regular food. Some gums are as hard as steel!
23.  Patients with friends and family who visit get well faster.
24.  Liberalize their diets. They only have a few more years to live. Emphasize quality of life.
25.  Team approach works best (MD, Nurse, Dietitian, Psychologist, Social Worker, CNA, OT, PT, etc)

20 thoughts on “25 Things You Learn When Working in a Nursing Home — Humor Intended, by Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.”

  1. I will never forget #9 and #20. Those smells will be ingrained in my nostrils. Forever. Great post Wendy! Great work as always, Eleanor.

    • Jill, I imagine those smells are something you’d have preferred to forget! Thanks for your appreciation of Wendy’s post and the blog.

    • ….26. Eat chocolate now, good chocolate is hard to come by in a nursing home.
      27. Dr. Red is not a new physician, it’s code for fire.
      28. Life is short. If your in a nursing home it’s probably shorter now, make the most of it.
      29. There are over a hundred things that can go wrong with our bowels, preventing us from attending the next recreation program.
      30. Learn to budget now, before you get into a nursing home. It’s not easy to live on $50.00 a month and things don’t look like they are going to change any time soon.
      31. Having to be in a nursing home sucks. Make the most of it, make new friends, they are always nearby. Activities and most supplies are free, and most facilities have regular entertainment.

  2. Great post! Just a few thoughts:

    4. … And how some residents like to unlock their wheelchair when you are not watching.
    6. Death isn’t scary, but sometimes your residents can scare you to death (e.g., when they try to unlock their wheelchair, stand up, and “walk” without a gait belt.)
    14. …Psych meds for administrators and staff may work too!
    22. … And it’s likely to misplace than dentures.
    23. …Provided that their family and friends are not trying to push the wrong button or pull the plug.
    24. Just don’t be disappointed if a resident changes his mind after you have spent hours looking for the special dish he wants.
    25. Team work can probably prepare you for a political career. Keep smiling.

    • I’m a little late to this party…

      I’ve often said we need a staff order. “Give one tab by mouth to resident, as needed for agitation. Give all staff members two tabs at same time.”

  3. My mom is now in a nursing home recovering from a broken hip. This is probably the best care facility in our town of 500,000. I am increasingly disappointed in the nutrition offered here. The food is bland and never fresh fruits or vegetables. Like I read somewhere, the focus in such places is on calories, not alive nutrition. And I have been chastized for giving my mom better supplements. Canned foods don’t come anywhere near what fresh fruits and vegetables provide. What do they teach in diatetics degree programs anyhow?

    • Dean, you might find it helpful to meet with the dietician or with the whole team at the care plan meeting to find out what supplements you can bring that comply with your mom’s dietary requirements.

  4. Thank you so much for your humor! I am doing some research and this made me smile. Seeing as I, myself have cared for my own grandmother since I was 9, I can definitely empathize!

  5. I’m a health care assistant and I love my job and love the residence their like family, it’s a rewarding job that a lot of people can’t do but it’s not all about the incontinent part of the job it’s more about the residence I have some funny residence where I work and it makes your job that little bit easier. And one point in our life we are all going to need a help in hand in our life x


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