In the fall of 2018, Marie Sanderwest received a letter from a member of Congress who was seeking re-election, asking for information about what issues were of concern to voters. Sunderwest wrote him a letter and she described some bad experiences her elderly and frail mother endured in the nursing home. She wrote about her mother’s serious injury from a preventable fall from her Heuer lift. Multiple witnesses of mothers sitting in urine soaked clothes, inadequate staff requirements, poorly trained staff with a ‘don’t care’ attitude, miscommunication with management. communication with the nursing staff at a high level, countless meetings with the administration on maternal care, and the inability of staff to meet maternal needs in a professional and timely manner.
Thunderwest told lawmakers that lawmakers may be shareholders in companies that own care homes. “This setup allows facilities to fix things to avoid fines. They recently lobbied the government to reduce penalties at care homes, and their request was granted by the government.” Sunderwest pleaded with lawmakers, “Older people need someone to really and really fight for them.” I hope he will take on the plight of forgotten members of society,” Sunderwest writes in a compelling and powerful book.
The MP did not reply to Sunderwest’s letter.
Sunderwest continued to defend his mother. “I reported to the head nurse that the tube feeding was leaking all over my mother during the night, but no one bothered to change her clothes or get her out of bed. (My mom, but no one answered the phone.) … I once visited my mom and found cannulae lying by the bed and on the floor behind the oxygen tank. It was a breach of control, and despite reporting it, the cannula was found repeatedly on the floor.… One day, I had a certified nursing assistant administer my mother’s tube feedings from a pole stand next to her bed to a Broda chair. I saw him switch to a pole attached to the peg tube side of his stomach where he placed a heavy bottle filled with tube feeding…”
At quarterly care plan meetings, the staff said, “My complaints were heard and some were corrected but little improvement. I found myself making the same complaints over and over again. I am concerned about oral care, lack of cleanliness around my mom’s stomach peg tube, medications being given late beyond the 2 hour window, being changed or checked enough times during the day by my mom. I also noticed that a certified nursing assistant held her hand and used it to wash her genital area, even though (clean) gloves were readily available. complained about connecting tube feedings with the same gloves as…”
Health department testing visits were to be unannounced, but “the facility could always predict when a visit was imminent.” I always knew when it would happen: kitchen staff wore hairnets, started serving food on time, food carts were equipped with hand sanitizers (residents rarely washed their hands before eating). was not), additional personnel were provided, the beds were neatly made, the rooms were spotlessly clean, the residents were up on time and usually left in bed stinking of urine and feces all day. Interestingly, the manager was keeping a close eye on me and a few others, and he followed us down the hall to inspect. When the officers were there they saw our every move because we were the trouble makers.
We understand that Thunderwest is critical of care home employees’ neglect and abuse, but we also appreciate employees who are conscientious and kind to residents who depend on their care.
Sunderwest’s recommendations for nursing home reform include the appointment of a nursing home emperor with a job description focused on revamping the nursing home industry for the benefit of forgotten seniors. Surveillance cameras are installed in each room. Tighter regulation and oversight of nursing homes. Professional nurses are more involved in overseeing the day-to-day work of certified nursing assistants. A requirement to employ sufficient staff to provide adequate resident care. Rigorous implementation of quality dietary management needs. Tighter infection control and improved daily oral care. Emphasize the role of activity departments in providing creative programs to residents.
Thunderwest wrote: …Once upon a time, these sick old men raised the younger generation. Now they seem abandoned, abandoned in understaffed and poorly regulated care homes. I understand that this was a tough choice for many families like mine, but what bothers me is the relative visitation and lack of interest that left them there. I heard them (nursing home residents) talk about their past lives.
By reading Old and Abandoned, we become witnesses to the inhumane side of nursing home care. Nursing homes must provide excellent care at all times, not just when inspectors visit. Thunderwest provides an important and thought-provoking perspective on nursing home care and what can be done to improve the quality of life of nursing home residents.
“Old And Thrown Away” is a dramatic, candid, revealing book about our nursing homes and what we can do to improve them.
Canandaigua resident Joel Freedman is a frequent contributor to book reviews and essays for the Finger Lakes Times. Friedman is now retired, and Finger said he taught history, political science, and sociology at a community college for many years.