Aged care workers are often portrayed in a bad light in the media. It seems the only time we hear stories about them is when one 'bad egg' messes up and does something dispicable to a member of our elderly community.
We get upset when we hear those stories, because we can only imagine how we would cope if it was our parents, or even us, being treated that way, but one young woman is wanting to change the light her and other aged care workers are portrayed in.
The woman, from Australia, took to Facebook to publically outline a day in her role.
The post included a shocking breakdown of the tasks and stresses she encountered in an average work day, beginning at 6.30am and ending after 3.20pm, when she’s “in overtime. Unpaid overtime”.
She explained that her post was “not a dig at my workplace” or the job she loved, but rather an attempt to show “the reality of aged care”.
The Facebook post reads:
"It's 630am and my shift begins. Residents breakfast time is 8am. That's 90 minutes. By 8am, eleven of my 24 residents are expecting to be sitting in the dining room washed, dressed and ready for their meal. "
The young woman then goes on to break down that process further.
"That's 8 minutes and 18 seconds per resident! In 8 minutes, I must use a lifter to transfer each resident from their bed to the toilet, from the toilet to the shower, wash them, shave them, dry them, moisturise them, dress them, comb their hair, brush their teeth, apply hearing aids, dress their wounds, transfer them to a wheelchair, tidy their room, make their bed, empty their bin and wheel them to the dining room. 8 minutes!"
But the harsh reality doesn't stop there.
Meanwhile, in their bedrooms, the other 13 residents lay waiting for their meal.
"These residents cannot walk, cannot communicate, cannot feed themselves. They require spoon feeding, can only drink through a straw, and have difficulty swallowing."
"These residents have not yet been touched since the shift began, because the residents with the verbal and physical behaviours take priority. They have not yet been cared for, because in a ward of 24 high care residents, 4 nurses can only do so much."
The woman further highlights that all of the above happens before the clock ticks over 9am. In just a few short hours, the aged care worker has already completed a lot more than most do in a full day.
And at 9am, the jobs don't stop or slow down. The young woman continues highlighting the brutal realities of her crucial job.
"Now it's 9am, also known as code brown o'clock. 24 residents, and you better believe they all want the toilet at once."
As one nurse does the medication round, and another collects the breakfast trays, the remaining two are running, answering multiple buzzers and toileting several residents at a time.
"One resident is incontinent. You've already showered her this morning, but as you follow the trail of poo from the dining room to her bedroom, you realise she will be needing another shower, and pronto!"
It's now 9:30am. You're supposed to take your tea break. But you don't. Or you do, and feel guilty as you scull your cup of cold tea and think about the 13 residents still laying in bed in last nights pad, unable to buzz for assistance.
"It's 9:40am. All personal care would ideally be completed by 11am, leaving just enough time to start preparing for lunch. That leaves 6 minutes and 15 seconds per resident to attend to their personal hygiene. This of course is best case scenario, but throw in a fall, a broken hip, a skin tear, a death, a vomit, an upset visitor, or an accidental poop of the pants, and the time left for each resident is shortened."
"It's now 11am. You have not done a single note of paperwork. You'll be in trouble for that, paperwork = funding! You try to type your way though chart after chart, but the buzzers never stop, the phone is always ringing.
The activity hall calls to tell you your residents have finished playing bingo and are ready to be picked up."
The hairdresser calls from the office asking you to bring residents over for their appointments.
And somewhere amongst it all, the nurses are trying to fit in their lunch breaks.
"It's 12pm now. Lunchtime. One nurse delivers yet another round of meds, one is feeding the bed-ridden residents, while the third is supervising those in the dining room. 2 residents are fighting over who got the most ice cream, another is choking on her drink because she refuses to have thickened fluids. Another is taking the chewed up food from her mouth and feeding it to a fellow resident who is asleep at the table with her mouth open."
You still haven't gotten to the paperwork.
"It's 12:30pm now, and so begins the busiest hour of the shift. 24 residents all to be toileted, repositioned, checked for pressure sores, or returned to bed. An hour is not enough to get this round done, but it has to be. Two staff are going home at 1pm, and the other at 2. After that, you're on your own."
"Now it's 2:45pm. You should be clocking off in 15 minutes! But who are you kidding! You can't leave until the paperwork's done."
Its 3:20pm. You're in overtime. Unpaid overtime.
Then the woman gets into a very real part of her job. One that so many of us are perhaps guilty of because we only want the best for our family members.
"As you type your notes, a resident is spilling his drink, straight down the front of his pants. You don't see this, but his family do. They've arrived (yep, right now) for a visit. They do not see the spilled cup under the table, just the wet patch on his pants. They come charging in to speak to you, they use a stern and unimpressed tone. They lecture you about how it is not dignified for their father to be on display with soiled pants. You explain that you are sorry, and that it is in fact only water, but of course you will get him changed right away."
"The family did not see their father spit on you at 7am as you showered him. They didn't see you massage dencorub gently into his sore knees to soothe the pain. They didn't see you pick a flower to sit on his lap and cheer him up during breakfast. They didn't see you encourage him to eat his lunch when he was reluctant to do so. They only saw this. This patch of water on his pants. And now the world is ending."
The young woman's post has, understandably, gone viral.
In just a short amount of time the post has amassed almost 20K Facebook reactions, 7K comments and 17K shares.