The facility that is being explored for this assignment is known as Prestige Assisted Living. This is an assisted living facility that is located in my community, and offers elderly patients a means to obtain care while maintaining a setting of independence. While there are many different departments that are within this particular facility, one of the main departments is focused on providing daily care and checkups for the patient-residents who reside in the care facility. Therefore, the main department that will be examined in the context of Prestige Assisted Living is the daily nursing department, where one of the registered nurses, Jason Niles, was kind enough to volunteer his time to answer the questions that I was able to put forth.
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There is a wide variety of objectives that are completed in by the nurses within this particular area of the elderly care facility. The primary job of each of these nurses is to offer daily medical checkups to the individuals who live within the assisted living community. These nurses have to ensure that the health needs of all of their different patients at the outset of the day, which often involves working with them to establish basic care needs, medication, and other daily routines that take place within the medical care facility. However, there are many more different aspects of care that nurses are responsible for within the framework of an assisted living facility.
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Aside from the daily routine aspects of the job, there are many times when the patients in the care facility require some form of treatment for an acute ailment or emergent condition. The nurses who work at these facilities are expected to be able to work together as part of a multi-disciplinary team in order to solve any problems that come up. According to the nurse that I was able to interview, one of the most unfortunate aspects of getting older is that slip and fall accidents become more common as well as more damaging to their patients. When a patient slips
and falls, they undergo a variety of tests that are designed to ensure that the patient did not sustain any serious injuries. Sometimes, when it appears as though the patient has been more seriously injured than the staff is able to handle at this facility, they must work as a portion of the larger medical organization; that is, these workers have to work with paramedics and other medical professionals to ensure that patient information is passed along and the patient is stabilized in an efficient manner.
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Another one of the tasks that nurses have to take part it in the reception of new patients when they are welcomed into the facility. The medical history of the patient has to be received and inputted into the system so that a care plan can be established for their benefit. While this apparently does not happen often at this care facility, since they are presently at capacity, the fact is that it is a long process, but one that the nurses find rewarding because it allows them to figure out the way to improve the outcome of patients who are going to live in the facility.
Finally, one of the more macabre aspects of being a nurse in an assisted living facility has to do with the potential passing of the people who live in the facility. After all, the average age of the individuals who live in these facilities is upwards of 75 years, and many of them have chronic ailments that require treatment, but can still get worse in time. The fact is that having nurses who are prepared to offer palliative care or preparing a patient for a hospice situation, but Nurse Niles did say that this was a rather rare occurrence in his experience.
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Jason Niles was able to provide a great deal of insight into the role that a nurse would have at the elderly care facility. When asked about the primary responsibility of the nurses in the context of this workplace, he responded immediately with that it was their goal to ensure that patients were healthy in a mental and physical sense. Their health was the single most important factor in that workplace. In order to carry out these responsibilities, Jason Niles said that there was a variety of different things that nurses have to be prepared to do in order to be diligent in their services to the patients.
In terms of the typical patients or clients that are seen in this particular department, Mr. Nile was able to shed some light on the topic. He said that the majority of people in the place were over the age of 75, many of them were females and widows, and that the vast majority of them had some form of chronic ailment that required such frequent treatment that it was not possible for the individuals to maintain their own home. However, there are many differences in the clients in terms of demographics, a fact that Niles was happy to point out, noting that this was one of the more diverse areas in terms of elderly care.
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Jason Niles’ education was initially as an undergraduate student who was attempting to become a teacher, but decided that he wanted to have a more direct impact on the lives of others, eventually transferring to nursing school. At present, he is working on a Master’s Degree so that he can become involved in management-level nursing and care outcomes. From the perspective of his career, he said that he had been a nurse at this facility for five years, and that aside from some odd jobs in college, this was the only position that he had as a career. He did note that it was unusual for some nurses to stay so long in the setting because the “burn-out” rate is exceedingly high for nurses that work in the elderly care facilities.
One of the areas that I was most interested in examining was the educational requirements for the job. I was relieved to hear that the minimum nursing requirement is to be a registered nurse, though some specialties are present within the facility. To that end, it appears as though everyone who works there in a medical capacity requires training and education in the care of patients from a physical and mental standpoint. When asked about the way that education helped prepare him for the job, Jason Niles said that a person’s education will teach them everything that they need to know about the body, but that is not the only part of the job. In other words, nursing school covers material that is crucial to the care of patients, but does not make a nurse someone that is personable, patient, and in possession of a bedside manner that is appropriate for people in this age group. Niles said that the patients who are older sometimes have to be asked the same question a few times, and that they are much slower than other patients that nurses expect to deal with on a regular basis. In the elderly care facility, patience appears to be the greatest virtue because it allows a person to be satisfied with their work while not becoming frustrated. The innate slowness and overall stress of having patients in chronically negative health positions is something that contributes to the high rate of burnouts in that setting, according to Jason Niles, and requires the right mixture of empathy and work ethic.
Another one of the important aspects of nursing in this context that I wanted to ask about was how his position managed to fit into the overall perspective on medicine. Niles said that, for many people, the elderly care facility was one that was typically viewed as an “end of the line” for patients since many of them remain residents until they pass away or require emergency medical care. However, from the framework of being a part of the medical community and a smaller piece of an overall interdisciplinary group, Niles said that the biggest difficulty faced was ensuring that the proper channels of information were maintained. When asked to specify, he said that medication prescriptions, dosage, and ensuring that patients were taking this medicine were some of the most important aspects of being a nurse in the facility. Missing a medicine or a wrong dosage could interact negatively for patients with delicate health; therefore, ensuring that the information from the home or hospital from which the patients originated is absolutely crucial to positive outcomes. Overall, this position is one that seems to be very challenging, but also one that is necessary. Through developing empathy and medical knowledge, it could be possible that I could contribute to one of these facilities in the future.