Leave the cape at home to become a caregiving hero

Jacqueline Vance, RN
Jacqueline Vance, RN

OK, lets face it. We all have an inner superhero in us or we wouldn't be in the business of serving. But sometimes we need to leave that cape at home.

Let me explain. First, I'll call out the docs. Nurse Nancy calls you at 3 p.m. and you can hear Mrs. Severe Alzheimer's screaming in the background that she wants to GO HOME. Nancy is begging you for a pill to calm the resident down.

Your first instinct might be to put on your cape, play superhero and order just “a little something" to temporarily zone out Mrs. Alzheimer's. But is that the best way to be the hero?

Not really, because then no one will learn what the resident's message is behind the behavior, and we will never figure out how to de-escalate it or stop it in the future.

How about saying, "I can hear there is a crisis so let's figure out together what is going on."

OK, now for the directors of nursing and other nurse managers: Sure, there is a crisis and we can come running with our superhero cape (and fire extinguisher!), and we want to save the day. Staff praise you with, "Thank goodness you were here! [or ‘on the phone at 2 a.m.!'] You saved us!” OK, not literally, but you get the idea.

The thing is, how are they going to solve the problem on their own if you don't help them acquire the skills to get there and then allow them to grow? Instead of flying in and saving the day, how about asking, "How do you think we should deal with this?" (Unless, of course, someone is lying on the ground with a squirting artery, or something drastic like that. This might not be the opportune time for a teaching moment.)

Please see someone about getting that red “S” removed from your chest — for the good of your staff and facility.

Trust me, you will be more of a superhero when you teach people to problem solve rather than just react.

Just keeping it real,
Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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