It is in the nursing homes job description, that the nursing staff employed should be certified, and be able to perform a number of tasks in order to better understand the patient. This includes an assessment of the patient's mental status and thought process, an understanding of the patient's health concerns, ailments and other physical issues, with an open discussion between the nurse and the patient of anything troubling the patient with regard to their health or treatment plans and/or other mental worries that the patient faces.
If the patient insists on declining medicine, they need to be explained their necessity and adjusted, if the medication is causing some sort discomfort to the patient. The nursing staff should not only himself/herself care for the patient when it comes to their medication and rehabilitation, but also educate the patient themselves. The nursing staff constantly should supervise the elderly, however, if there is none present in the vicinity, the patients should know enough to ensure their personal safety. The patients should be made aware by the nurses with regard to disease prevention, as living with other elderly sick patients can cause germs to easily move from one physically vulnerable body to another. Moreover, the role of the nursing staff is not limited to just primary care giving. It also involves the counseling of the elderly patient, along with having effective two-way communication regarding the well-being of the patient, in collaboration with others that work at the nursing home, such as social workers, therapists, physical therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and dietitians, to ensure that the elderly patient's mental and physical needs are well looked after, given their respective medical condition.
Neglect by geriatric nursing staff, or any other employee or member of the administration at the old age homes can lead to severe consequences for the elderly patient involved. Although there are trained nurses employed by the nursing homes, along with doctors and certified therapists, it is possible that they are found guilty of negligence due to any reason whatsoever. Nursing homes are governed by state laws in each country, and all such acts of negligence that leads to any harm or mental trauma to the residents of an old age home are punishable by law.
An example of a consequence of a nurses' refusal to perform her duties in the course of treatment of a geriatric patient in an old age home, lead to that patient's demise. In 2013, Bakersfield, California, United States of America, an 87-year-old female resident of a nursing home had collapsed, and was in need of a CPR, which the nurse refused to provide by explaining that the nursing facility that she works for doesn't allow the nurses to perform CPR on the residents (Rosenblatt, 2013). The performance of CPR may have saved the old woman's life, however, the policies of the nursing home, and the stand taken by the nurse to adhere to them, are the culprit in her death.
Such ethical challenges often arise when it comes to caring for elders in nursing homes. The decision at hand is always whether to adhere to policy or to perform ones' duty as a geriatric caregiver (Bresnahan, 1999). These are often the issue of many on-going debates, and have lead to different conclusions in different states and countries.
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