Bed A and Bed B are people!
Jacqueline Vance, RN
Does anyone remember the movie “Soylent Green”? (If not, spoiler alert — I'm going to ruin the ending in a second!) It is a 1973 science fiction film starring Charlton Heston. In this dystopian future (set in 2022) the population is suffering from pollution, overpopulation, poverty, depleted resources, etc., and most people survive on processed food rations, including "Soylent Green.”
This food source is provided by the Soylent Corporation, whose newest product, Soylent Green, is a green wafer marketed to contain high-energy plankton from the oceans. It is more nutritious and palatable than its predecessors “Red” and “Yellow,” but in short supply.
OK, so I am getting to my main point soon! Charlton Heston plays New York City Police Department detective Frank Thorn, who investigates a murder of someone who had access to oceanic reports. This leads him down a rabbit's hole where he learns that Soylent Green is really made of homeless people and the elderly — in other words, people no one knows or wants to know. The film ends with him running in the streets in horror, yelling, “Soylent Green is people!” in a way only Charlton Heston could.
So what the heck am I rambling about? No, I don't think we are going to turn our residents into a food source (though that would make a “killer” — excuse the pun — theme for a Halloween blog).
But in the film no one ever missed the homeless people or the elderly because no one knew who they were. That brings us around to the question: How do we let our staff refer to our residents?
Are they “Bed A,” “Bed B,” “the bed by the window” or “the private room”?
Or are they “Mrs. Jones in Room 318”? And if we do have enough sense to humanize our residents, do we delve into “who” they were before they came to us?
I know I've blogged about this before, but you can never bring this point home enough. It's important to know about the lives of who is living in our home. It's about relationships, not about heads in the beds.
Getting to know our residents creates empathy. It helps us to care. And, it helps us to miss them when they are gone, so that, yeah, we'd notice if they disappeared in a Hollywood thriller!
Just keeping it real,
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.