Friday, February 8, 2013

Skilled Care And Caring For Aging Parents- Uggghhh!

OK~ I have had a few months to reflect upon the care my Dad has received while recovering from necrotizing pancreatitis. His journey has been an amazing one. Our family has been blessed with great medical care from St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. After spending 25 days in the ICU Unit and 10 more days in the hospital, he was slated to be discharged to a nursing home before being released to come home. Here is where the problems began.

Today I was reading the saga of my friend Cecily of Uppercase Woman. She is currently Banging Her Head Against The Caregiver Wall. Most people would not believe that this is actually occurring in our world today. Well, I am here to tell you that I can relate!

My Mom and I met with a representative of a nursing home three days before dad was going to be discharged to a nursing home to receive "skilled care." Our family had researched the facilities in our area and found that they all classified themselves as "skilled care" facilities. So when we met with this representative she assured us that there "skilled care" facility would be able to take care of Dad. She had examined his medical records and she was sure they were qualified to take him. All we needed were the papers finalized and Dad would be about 12 miles from home. Our goal was to get him closer to home, so Mom would be able to visit on a daily basis and not have to stay in a hotel to see him.

The day before he was to be discharged my parents were notified that Dad would need to go to Nursing Home A or B. The nursing home that he was slated to go to would not be able to meet his needs. We had two choices, one nursing home in town (about 10 miles away) or one 90 miles to the East. Well, that was a no brainer, of course we would opt for the one near home.

Here's where my problem lies. Why do nursing homes consider themselves to be "skilled care" facilities when they do not know how to care for patients with drain tubes and incisions that are healing from the inside out? Yep, my Dad had these issues. In my opinion, if a nursing home can call themselves a "skilled care" facility, they should be able to meet the needs of patients that need skilled care. We later learned that the "skilled care" facility that Mom and I had met with did not have the means to care for patients with drain tubes. We are assuming that meant trained staff to care for him.

Dad did receive very good care while in the nursing home. Yes, it did take sometime to educate the nursing staff on how to flush his drain tube and change the dressing on his open wound. 10 days into his stay, the nursing staff had learned how to take care of him.

What on earth happens to patients that do not have their minds to show the nursing staff how to care for them? Do nurses not have to change dressings or take care of drain tubes in nursing homes? I cannot imagine that my Dad was the first resident that has had these needs. Or, do most people in his condition just get sent home to die? These are all questions that continually race through my mind.

I am grateful that Dad had a knowledgeable surgeon and a team of Doctors that literally saved his life. The journey out of the hospital has been an interesting one. Dad has his mind and is in recovery mode. Dad will tell you, "If you are heading to the hospital. Sleep with one eye open!" When you hear someone say that you need an advocate while in the hospital, he will tell you that is very true.

It's time to stop misleading the public and stop labeling nursing homes "skilled care" facilities when they are not. Maybe it's something that Medicare mandates that each nursing home calls themselves or it's fake advertising. Whatever it is---- it's time to stop labeling nursing homes "skilled care" facilities when they won't offer the skilled care that the elderly needs. A broken system that seems to care about the almighty dollar and not the person.

So........ hopefully this will help another family that finds themselves on the adventure we found ourselves on. Sadly it appears that there are many, many other families dealing with this same type of issue. When crisis mode strikes, families need to be assisted and given the tools to help them care for their loved ones. The elderly people in our country have worked hard all their lives and deserve to be treated with respect. They are not a piece of paper that needs to be thrown away.

Ahhhh- The aging parent thing! I'm here, living it and am blessed to be able to share in the ups and downs as Dad recovers. It saddens me that money means more than human beings when it comes to dealing with Medicare. I can only imagine what this will be like for my boys when they are dealing with me- yikes! After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?


  1. I think it has something to do with how a nursing home gets reimbursed re:skilled. You would think if the hospital feels they can discharge it would be a no brainer but it isnt.

    Hope your Dad is doing well!

    1. Dad is doing ok. It is really too bad that families have to work so hard for their loved ones to get the care they deserve. He has had wonderful people to care for him, and sadly many of them are burned out from all the hoops they too must hop through.


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