A second career threatened

I pursued nursing as a second career.

Once I began my training to become a Registered Nurse, I thought that I would never be out of work again. I had never heard of any health care facility closing down or restructuring. The first place that hired me was a long-term care home where I worked for six years. I didn't realize how wrong I was. 

Recently, myself, my wife and many other nurses lost our jobs. Nursing is going through changes that are resulting in decreased care for individuals in exchange for decreased health care costs. Jobs are being sacrificed and client care is being neglected all in the name of cost cutting.

Re-entering nursing, as an RN into long-term care would not be a prudent decision based on the current management plans. According to all I hear, RNs are being cut in long-term care. Before being laid off, we were told to pass all our responsibilities over to the RPNs who were “fully capable of doing our jobs.” RPNs were, according to management, “full scope.”

Staffing numbers were substantially decreased with a new facility taking on very few nurses to care for higher numbers. For example, our home had 150 residents with 9 staff to cover the night shift. The new facility has 544 residents with 7 staff for the night shift. Safety is being sacrificed. If an emergency was to take place, there is not enough staff in the facility to deal with the situation, i.e: fire, gastro outbreak, missing/aggressive resident, etc.

Families have complained, but there is no government policy that states the patient-to-staff ratio.

Clients should never be counted as a number; each person is an individual and should be recognized as such. When accountants run facilities, they neglect to recognize one major factor, the “human factor.” Aviation companies are beginning to recognize this due to government intervention after many crash investigations. The human factor plays a vital role in people’s response to each situation and is compounded by stress factors, shift work, external pressures and many other factors.

It’s time that health care gets a fresh new look at client care.