Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

You see them everywhere. Anti-bullying campaigns. People are bullied for just about anything. For looking different, for different beliefs, for sexual orientations, for race, creed, color, religion, etc. 

But I have one more. And it’s a rather large elephant in the room. It’s for the long-term care profession as a whole. 

The media bully us, the public bullies us, social media bullies us, and even worse, our own government bullies us. It’s not bad enough that it’s the most underfunded part of healthcare, the hardest area of healthcare to recruit staff to, but do you have to kick us constantly?

When COVID-19 first hit and the public was dying in chairs in waiting rooms in ERs with nurses fully outfitted in PPE in hospitals, they were labeled heroes. Yet in our setting, when we had no PPE but still showed up and our MOST vulnerable patients died, we were vilified.

Then we were bullied with a gazillion extra surveys and fines, losing staff faster than USPS loses your mail. How come the hospitals didn’t get these surveys? You want to tell me that all staff from dietary to X-ray technicians to nursing staff always wore their masks properly? And you want to tell me that COVID did NOT spread in the hospital? I would argue that any day, especially since my good friend, who was just in ICU for a month, got COVID in the ICU!

Then, when we lost over 400,000 direct care workers and couldn’t replace them while being price gouged by agency premium costs (that our government apparently didn’t care about), CMS thought, “Gee, it’s a perfect time to continue beating up nursing homes and not only publish staffing and retention rates but let’s make it another quality measure to further bring down your star ratings. Sure, we hear you that nurses are as rare as unicorns, especially in rural areas but the beatdowns need to continue.”

Now, we have the enhanced barrier precautions (EBP) because you only get multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs) in a long-term care facility (… I say very sarcastically). Now, yes, I am aware that our residents are vulnerable to MDROS due to compromised immune status and living in a community environment. But honestly, every single person I know who has a colonized MDRO had that originate in the hospital. 

And if we take this guidance literally, like say with dressing a person who has a skin tear (aka “wound”), then these precautions would apply. So, we gown and glove to dress Mrs. Jones but later she wants us to put on a sweater. By definition, that is dressing, so do we have to gown and glove again? And just who is going to pay for all of this? (Let the beatings continue until morale improves…)

So, as I see no white knight coming our way to let the world know that we are pretty amazing and not villains, let’s start our own anti-bullying support group. When you walk by a coworker, let them know that they are awesome, that they are doing something super special and life-changing. Heck, look in a mirror and tell yourself that. And those of you who work in a community that is an AHCA/NCAL Quality award winner, go around high-fiving each other. 

Don’t let them get you down. You are incredible. And this cockeyed optimist holds on to the hope that one day the world will know that.

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an 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. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.