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The Professionals Forum

Professional and family caregivers have much to offer each other. Here's where you can share your experiences, ask questions and offer support.

An unidentified viewer writes:
I am a nursing supervisor in a long term care facility on the 3-11 shift. I transitioned from the hospital to the nursing home two years ago -- the week my mother, a patient in the home, died. At the time I questioned my move but I love what I can do to bring smiles and caring to staff and residents and families.

I call myself a facilitator not a supervisor. I try to solve problems, answer questions and provide support where I can. I agree with the comment about caregiver professionals doing a difficult job with little appreciation and very low remuneration. So many of our CNA's give so much and care so much. Their own lives outside the work place are difficult. They stay on because they care. Many are going on to be nurses and they want to practice in the geriatric setting. I am proud to be associated with these people and I intend to show my appreciation even more and share the understanding I received from watching this program.

Diane of Stillwater, MN:
I am so honored to have the opportunity to work with my clients as a Public Health Nurse for seniors and disabled of all ages. The goal of the programs I work with is to keep our clients safely in the setting they want to live in, at the highest quality of life possible, respecting their individuality.

Joe of Houston writes:
How can I, as a nursing home social worker, assist in furthering the idea of the Eden Alternative in every and all nursing homes in the Houston area? I am also very interested in working towards in furthering the concept of intergenerational programming in the Houston area as well. Both concepts were introduced and shown on the program, "And Thou Shalt Honor".

Sean of Victoria, B.C.:
I am a college student just about to graduate from a care aid programe in Canada. When I started this program I thought that I knew how to care for someone. Did I have my eyes opened to the skills and the love of the job that a caregiver needs and must have to survive in this field! I am trying to learn as much as I can. With shows and forums like this I believe that I can be a great caregiver. Keep up the great work.

Marie of Hadensville, VA:
I'm a Caregiver and love it. I take care of a 90-year-old lady in the afternoon and an 83-year-old lady in the morning. It's very important to take care of the elderly. After all they took care of us.

Keith of Perinneville, NJ:
I am the oldest son of two siblings whose family owns a health care facility called M&M Manor. I watched & Thou Shalt Honor and am facinated by the level of awareness the show has produced regarding the aging process and care from so many points of view.

I will be forty three November 11th of this year. Having been in the "business" of providing care for the frail, elderly and mentally challenged for over thirty years, & Thou Shalt Honor has given me a renewed sense of inspiration just at the time when I have become weary of the task. It has let me see what my aunt was envisioning when she founded and branded our family business on the foundational slogan of caring for those who can't care for themselves.

In the past weeks the hometown newspaper of Millstone NJ published on the front page an article of one of our clients. The client who has been in our facility for some time had lost all contact with her daughter. Her daughter now living in California after forty years recently contacted Social Security Administration and she three weeks ago was able to be reuinited with her mother at the M&M Manor.

In such a fast-paced world, it is so easy to find all types of excuses to not focus on caring for family members, particulalry those who are aging, but I now know that whether its an elderly care facility, a particular state, a neighborhood, a church group, or a professional in the business, the way we take care of our aging is a true reflection of our human character.

I thank you for your show for it has given me a renewed appreciation for my family, my grandfather who had nine daughters and two sons (now deceased), all who currently own some type of caregiving facilities for the frail, elderly or disabled.

Gina of Rose Hill, KS:
I have just viewed & Thou Shalt Honor and found it to be an excellent and wonderful film! Thank you so much! I am a caregiver myself and also a social worker who works with many other caregivers in my field of work (being with the elderly and disabled). What a wonderful and encouraging film for us all!

Karen of Wisconsin:
I am a CNA-HHA-for the last 10 years. I enjoy being with the elderly. They have so much to say to us. Indeed they deserve our honor. They also deserve the care of our country. Drugs must be cheaper and easily gotten. Many go without all sorts of care as they can't afford it. Many are forced into the nursing home system when they shouldn't be.

I am now 56 ... on my way to elderly and perhaps needing the help of careing people like myself. But will I be able to afford any care? When my husband can no longer do his job we lose our insurance and the Home Health Agency I work for doesn't offer it. If we aren't working we will never be able to afford Health Insurance.

We are NEEDED in this field BUT does it make sense that we aren't paid very well or have Health Insurance offered? As the one CNA said who else will change BMs, give the baths, do all the daily living skills for one who can no longer do it. Or be there to hold a hand even unto death with love in our heart and with tears in our eyes?

"G" of Texas:
Thank you for such a wonderful program. I am a private caregiver for several wonderful people at a time. I could really conect with this program because of the point of view you showed. Maybe caregivers will realize that their calls for help can be answered. I am not a caregiver for the money, which is really lousy but most of the people I take care of have just enough to make it every month. I love my work and am always ready for the next challenge presented to me. All caregivers should give themselves a huge hug for caring.

Registered Nurse, New York City
PBS - Bravo!

Dear Caregivers and those cared for,
Thanks so much for opening your lives to us, the nation, this evening. Your special work does not go unnoticed and, without a doubt, is much appreciated by those you touch. Pat yourself on the back. You are not alone in this shame. Our nation needs to learn take care of its people (perhaps look to Western Europe for answers); we can start with universal health coverage.

Wilhelmina of Richmond, VA:
My name is Ms. Wilhemina Mosby and I have been a CNA for about three years and I have seen a lot. I have been to homes that were not fit to live in and sometime I just want to turn and go back out the door, but I don't. I know that I am the only person they will see for a whole week and I try my best to make them feel that how they live does not concern me and I go on with my work, and I do get along with them, and sometime I will be the only one they would see for a week and the only one they want to help them.

This job is heartbreaking, backbreaking and sometime very demanding. I know I am new at this but I feel like I have been doing this forever. But when my patients tell me that they are glad to have me there that just makes my day and keeps me coming back. So my question is why not put more money into helping the ones that need help and paying the worker more then what they get.

Tom of Manawa, WI:
My girlfriend of 3 1/2 years and I work at a Long Term Nursing Facility. She has worked there for almost 4 years, and I have for 2 years off and on. I just would like people to understand that I truly think we are underpaid for the services we provide. We take care of some very, very confused people. It is hard to not get attached to a few of them.

The hardest part of my job has to be when a resident you have taken care of and shared laughs and smiles with suddenly is stricken with a CVA (stroke) or a heart attack. Slowly they fade, leaving behind only memories.

What is sad is the few residents that seem to be "dropped off" at the nursing home and whose relatives don't bother to come and visit until the are on their death bed. For instance, a female resident had her 88th birthday and we had a note in the nurses station that was from her daughter that none of us has ever seen, asking us to figure out what she needs for her birthday so she can buy her something. I personally think that is sad that she didn't even know what her mother would want for her birthday.

From Louisville, KY:
I am an R.N. and have worked in LTC facilities for nearly 10 years. I hate the term "client" which takes away not only the dignity, but the human aspect of our residents. Understaffing and overcrowding has all but turned many of these facilities into lock and feed prisons. Very little time is afforded to give these tender souls what they really want and deserve - T.L.C., compassion and companionship. Many of their families have nearly deserted them and we, the caregivers, are the only family they have. To me it is not just a job or a paycheck, it is a part of my life, too. I'm sure all who have worked in LTC can appreciate my view.

Judy of Adkins, TX:
God bless you a million times. I am a nurse who spent the early part of nursing as an ER nurse vowing to never be in nursing home care. For some reason I kept being drawn to it. I have NEVER found a "good" or even "basic" care home that was meant for human habitation. I got fired from more nursing homes because I expected proper and common sense care for my patients.

When I demanded that my patients be changed when they were wet, and not every two hours, I got asked to leave. I wrote the governer of Texas and asked that they not notify when they were coming but show up unannounced. I took off for 3 years and just had to try one more time, as I love these souls, and because I complained about the nurse that was training me to the "routine" and who wasen't doing personal care or giving all the meds ordered, I was let go. I wish all help had to be a patient in a bed for a week before they took the job.

Gene Dorio, M.D., Valencia, CA
Our legislators have no vested interest in elder care because they receive all their present healthcare needs and retirement care for free. Only when the American people require our elected officials to purchase health insurance, go on Medicare, buy prescription medication, and subsequently pay out-of-pocket expenses for retirement living, will we see any worthy attempt to correct the abominable healthcare crisis in this country.

Shanell of Michigan:
I'm 18 years old and I have been working at a nursing home for almost two years. I love what I do, I love the residents and do anything to brighten there day. I work with residents who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia. It's a hard job, I see people there every day who shouldn't be doing it. I agree that the residents don't always get the care they deserve, but we try our hardest. When staff is limited we don't get to do the things we'ed like to -- rubbing there back, visiting or taking them outside. There just isn't enough time.

Annette of Cincinnati:
Society often mistakes today's heros as those who make lots of money, are on national television, are really good at shooting hoops, singing a song, dancing, acting and any other various spotlighted activity.

I disagree. I work in an intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded and developmentally disabled. My co-workers, day in and day out, and many like them across the country are the heros of our time. This field is very difficult, stressful, and underpaid. We often experience burn out, mental anguish, grief, heartache.

All of these things are well worth our time and energy. I sometimes get so frustrated with those people I come in contact with that say, "oh, I could never do that kind of work, it takes a really special person..." I get irritated because I don't agree with them, when you love people's souls, not their abilties, outside apperance, or anyother thing that today get's you on tv, you can't help but do this work. When we LOVE, We CARE.

Let regulators instruct us to take caution in relationships with those we serve, when you have to bathe someone, change attends, wipe their nose, change their clothes, help them eat, and all of those little things that are part of our job, you are close to them, you are intimately bonded by mutual trust with them, you love them.

Kathy of Aiken, SC:
CNA's are the soul and backbone of nursing home care. Why can't these caring professionals be paid a decent wage? It's a sin what we pay professional atheletes and CEOs. Why aren't we more concerned about fairly paying the people in the trenches? It's easy to say "their reward will be in heaven" but we need to do something so they and their families can have a decent standard of life here and now.

Sarah of Milwaukee:
I watched the program last night and was touched by the stories of all of the caregivers, both familial and professional. As a nurse in training, I was struck by the lack of representation of RNs and advanced practice nurses/nurse practitioners in the show. Professional nursing has always struggled with a lack of respect from the community and the health care industry. Yet, nurses make most of the ongoing decisions in patient care with their clients, and provide the majority of care (along with the nursing aides). Nurses are the only profession with training in 24-hour care of patients.

I applaud the doctor in the show who does home visits! However, nurses have been providing home health care since the dawn of nursing (even as the doctors' house calls fell off). I found the lack of representation of professional nurses irresponsible and insulting. We've been taken for granted for too long. I certainly did not expect this type of neglect from PBS.

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