Nurses and midwives care so much about their patients and residents that they inevitably sacrifice a lot to do their job. This is a story detailing everything one aged care nurse gives up for her residents and there’s bound to be many of you who go through exactly the same thing…
I come to work a bit early to fit in all my job tasks. This extra time is unpaid. I studied long and hard and worked part time jobs to pay for my nursing degree. I chose this career because it was once one of the top 10 most important jobs. Because it gives you an opportunity to serve others through one of their most difficult and vulnerable times of their lives. A job that made parents feel proud.
I soon found out it was rewarding but most challenging job that they don’t warn you about.
The text books don’t prepare you for what is coming ahead. The many lectures omit the most important parts of how to defend yourself from the abusers.
The people who join the army go through a lot of training to prepare them for war.
My training did not prepare me well for this war I go to everyday. A spit on your face, a pulling of my hair, a sexual comment, a grab here, was not what I studied 3 years for.
I leave my little ones behind to come every day to look after you only to get abused, to get spat on and hit. It took me a long time to come out of domestic violence situation and now I get hit at work and no one cares.
Just because you are frail and old, does it qualify you to abuse and hit me. They say you have an illness that makes you violent and aggressive, and I have to put up with your behaviours as part of my job. I put on my glasses and read my job description word for word and I am still unable to locate where it says being spat on and hit is part of my job.
I put you to bed and I go home to nurse my injuries alone. I take a Panadol because it hurts me where you kicked me in my ribs. I cared for your wounds but the wound you gave me is neglected.
You say I must run when you press your buzzer, but I am only one and there are many of you. I cannot be with many at once so I miss my breaks so I can answer your buzzer. It’s my job and I am only a nurse.
I look in the mirror and touch the face where your spit landed few hours ago. My silent tears no one sees because I am only a nurse. My tears drop on the cold hard floor as I see a reflection of myself studying late nights after putting the kids to bed to become a nurse.
The sacrifices I made to prepare for this job. The many times I was not able to take my break at work because I had to attend to falls or other emergencies. The many times I missed important family functions and kids school functions because I had to stay back to help put you to bed.
I worked through Christmas and Easter and left my little ones home having their dinner alone because I was making yours special. I was late home for meals and missed on tucking my kids to bed because I was tucking you to bed.
They say you deserve the best care and it is your home. I agree but it is also my work place and you are a resident. I deserve some respect. If I was a plumber attending to a leaking sink, would you hit me from behind? Nursing is my profession just as the tradesman plumber. If they get treated with respect doing a job in your home then why a nurse cannot expect the same. I am a human just like you.
You say I don’t come running the moment you press the buzzer. It might be because I have no energy left because I did not have my lunch and my bladder might be full because I could not get to the toilet. I was too busy feeding you and missed my own break. As long as the patients or the residents are fed, showered, dressing done and well looked after, why do I matter, I am just a nurse. I missed my breaks because I sat with you as you were passing on. I went home late again because I had to fill your charts. I went looking for your missing cardigan and I was the one fixing your hearing aid. I was the one who brought you some clothes because you were wearing dead residents’ clothes as your kids never visit you. I am just a nurse doing my job.
I was the one who had to stay back to make sure the agency nurse knew all about you before I went home. I called back from home to make sure your temperature had gone down. I am the one who cleaned your vomit. I am the one who made you coffee when you had too much alcohol. I am the one who says a nice word to you even when you are calling out swear words. I am the one standing by till the ambulance takes you to your appointment. I am just a nurse why do I matter. It’s my job. Even if you hit me and call me names, I still have to nurse you. I am just a nurse, it’s my job.
I don’t get paid for all I do. I do it because I care. So please don’t hit me. I am just a nurse doing my job.
The NSWNMA Report into Elder Abuse in Residential Aged Care found that 90% of staff have been subject to some form of aggression from residents and 61% fear repercussions if they report the abuse.
If you have an experience you’d like to share, please get in touch here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether it was something that occurred in a single shift or about your entire career so far, we want to know.