Both my mom's parents were in a nursing home together. My grandmother had dementia and my grandfather was mentally there but had cancer. They shared a room until my grandfather was unable to help her anymore.
My grandmother was put on a 'regular' room until they could get her in the Alzheimer ward. I'm not sure on the details but my Aunt who handled my grandparents affairs was having trouble giving her attention she needed and a family member was often called at all times of the night to come see her. My aunt arrived one day to find my grandmother more mentaly out of it then normal, lethargic and just sitting virtually unresponsive in her room. When my aunt tried to rouse her, she couldn't. Calls to the nurse went nowhere. She finally caught a PSW (Personal Support Worker) and asked them to get the nurse or doctor asap. Nothing happened. My aunt gave up and called 911. The ambulance made it to the nursing home before the nurse finally answered the call.
It turned out that my grandmother was severely dehydrated. She had also had a raging infection. Her bottom was raw (she worse diapers and was changed by the staff), and her bowels so backed up that it broke through the rectum wall and spread the infection from there to her whole body.
She a died day after, after having an operation to try and save her.
There was a big uproar between my family and the nursing home which went right up to the operator. The nurse who didn't respond was transfered to another floor, but, because of the nursing union, they were unable to fire her. (This was the high level summary I got from my Mom). To make matters worse, we couldn't move my grandafther from that nursing home. Physically, there was a good chance he wouldn't survive it.
This was in September 2006. In January 2007 my other grandfather (dad's dad) died.
About April 2007, I was visiting my grandfather, like I did almost every night. This night, though, he was in more pain then usual. He started crying (even my mother hasn't seen him cry) and moaning outloud in agony.
I called the nurse with the call button with no response. While I was waiting, I kept trying to pile up blankets, pillows, anything I could get under his knee to help, because he said he needed it. However, his skin was so brittle (from the steriods in his medication), it would break if pressed on. Moving him made him cry harder but he kept asking for it, because raising his leg helped eased the pressure. His legs, they were swollen beyond belief from being bedridden and his body retaining water, and they were near impossible to lift.
I left him briefly, which was hard enough to do, because he panics when people leave, crying "Come Back ohhhhhhh", and I went to the nurses station. The nurse is there. JUST sitting there. I can hear the beeping from the call button I've pushed and she's done nothing to acknowledge it.
I tell her my grandfather is in a lot of pain and we need pain meds and help lifting his leg. At this point he can get pain meds whenever he asks for it. She says she'll be right there. I go back to the room and resume trying to help.
About five mintues later two PSW come by. They help my grandfather to get more comfortable in bed, but he's still moaning in pain. They look at him, with so much pity - they were great help during that time - but they couldn't get his medicine because only the nurse could.
They leave, and still no nurse. A short time a PSW comes by and she comes in, again with that look of concern and asks if the nurse had come by. I said no, and she was surprised as she told me that the nurse had started her evening meds round. So instead of responding to an emergency person in pain, she was going to wait until it was his turn in the evening med rounds. Perfect. I was going to chase her down but was scared about leaving him alone. I later found out the PSW's were harassing the nurse during this time as well.
When the nurse came in, more then thirty mintues after I first pressed the call button, the first thing she said to me? "You got a cold or something?". I was sniffing because of the tears I was holding back from seeing a loved one in intolerable pain! I was so upset that I said nothing.
When I got home I e-mailed my aunt. There was another meeting with the head director. Turns out the PSW's have been complaining about this nurse for months. TURNED OUT IT WAS THE SAME NURSE WHO DIDN'T RESPOND WHEN MY GRANDMOTHER WAS DYING. I never saw that nurse on that floor again, she was banned from it. From that point on, if my grandfather as much as sneezed the staff was there (which wasn't hard since the staff loved him anyways, all but that nurse).
In mid-may, he would start just screaming the most painful soul aching screams, all of a sudden without being touched or anything. It took my Aunt about a week of arguing with the doctor to increase his pain medication because the only kind he could take had a possibility that it would slow his heart down and the doctor wanted no part of it. During that week, my grandfather had stopped eating. He was dying. He was basically comatose besides the odd screech. It wasn't until the day he died that the dose was increased and his suffering could end.
When he died, we couldn't have his body released until the coroner came by and announced him dead. It was a holiday so he didn't show up for over seven hours. It wasn't until he died that the nursing home told us we had 24 hours to remove his belongings. Most was carried off bit by bit over the previous months, but there was still some big pieces to move (tv, stero ect.). The family members who could move the items both had to work the next day. So we had to clean out the room - while he was still lying in his bed dead.
A worker asked me to check for jewellery on him for a report. I was not in the best state to question why we had to check him, but I did. The image of his skin peeling off, when I moved his banadged hand to check for a wedding ring - which had disappared to never be seen again - still haunts me to today.
Sorry, this got longer then I planned.
I found a copy of the e-mail my mom sent me when my grandmother fell sick. I was at a convention, had my cell phone stolen, and had no land line where I was living -
we have been trying to contact you yesterday and all day today via your cell phone, but for whatever reason, you haven't picked up. Grandma P was admitted to hospital yesterday afternoon, and is facing surgery tomorrow. The surgeon will be creating a colostomy (a bag outside the body to collect solid waste), because Grandma developed a fistula in her colon..........a hole between the colon/rectum and vagina which is causing all the waste to flow out of the intestine and into the vagina. Sorry for being so graphic, but that's the way it is!! The nursing home was very neglectful in that they somehow didn't manage to catch this problem, with the consequence that Grandma's poor bottom is raw!! To make matters worse, she has a major infection in her abdomen, and the CAT scan today revealed a mass in her intestines. She also was VERY dehydrated when she arrived yesterday..........yet another strike against the nursing home for negligence.
The doctor told us later that the nursing home could not have detected the fistula.
I appreciate all the comments, and advice.