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A pressing situation

September 11, 2017
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At my nursing home, two semiprivate rooms share a bathroom, meaning up to four residents share it. Since I got a roommate in April, it has become challenging for me to find the bathroom unoccupied. When my roommate, who I will call Darlene, is in the bathroom, I must wait. Darlene is ambulatory, so if I am in the bathroom she could go use the shower room's bathroom. Unfortunately, I cannot do the same as my shower chair is too low to roll over those hip fracture toilets.

The lack of extra bathrooms has been a dilemma ever since I arrived. Some of my roommates took showers only in the shower rooms. That meant the bathroom was open for larger parts of the day. But, Darlene and the female residents next door are able enough to use the bathtub in the shared bathroom. That means sometimes they are bathing when I need to use the toilet.

The nurses and aides have told me, as have my resident suite mates, that I can be rolled over the toilet while they are in the tub. However, I do not feel comfortable with that.

Since there are no unoccupied female semiprivate rooms, there are no other bathrooms for me to use. The only other toilets are in the shower rooms.

For several years, a female resident was in one of the private rooms. She spent most of the day at a developmental disabilities workshop. I was allowed to use her bathroom if mine was occupied or had a plumbing problem.

special arrangements were made once because of plumbing problems in the suite's bathroom. I was taken to the shower room's bathroom to be washed up. Then, my aide had to put a bedside commode bucket under my shower chair for a makeshift toilet. Though it was not optimum, it worked.

I also used the shower chair and makeshift bedside commode bucket when I had a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus urinary tract infection (MRSA UTI). I was not allowed to use the suite's toilet or those in the shower rooms because of infection control procedures. Fortunately, I was by myself in a semiprivate room and did not have to disrupt a roommate.

After Darlene moved in, I had to miss my shower on a couple of occasions because no toilet was available for me to use. I once had to stay in bed to use a bedpan for toileting and then be washed up. Another time, I had to be quickly put back to bed to use the bedpan when the bathroom was occupied.

Since I have lived at this facility, I have seen no bedside commode in anyone's room. I realize they may not be used since they are unsightly and can cause odor. However, when no other toilet is available, I would willingly use one. I would also use makeshift commode bucket under my shower chair in an emergency.

Kathleen Mears

@KathleenLMears1

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...

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