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Let us retrieve our medicine

August 3, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
| Reprints

We nursing home residents are usually waiting for something. We wait to get up, to get a shower, to get breakfast. And we wait for the first activity. In short, we wait all day long. In between, we do what we want or we go around the facility looking for companionship or just to see what is going on. One of the things we do hate to wait for is our medicine.

When I first came here, one afternoon shift nurse carried out med passes most days without a hitch. After the aides got the residents up for supper, this nurse went to the lounge and passed medicine. Those were the days when we had 40 or more residents on this unit. She passed her medicines quickly. Then after the residents got their medicine, they headed to the dining rooms or back to their rooms for supper.

Over the years rules have changed and at times we have been told not approach the med cart and return to our rooms so the nurse could identify us. But since we live here, we could be anywhere in the facility when it is time for our medicine. I think it is much better for us to be out and busy rather than be concerned about when we will get our medicine.

Since the nurses can no longer page us back to our room, they could come to us. On a busy day, medicines can be forgotten. Frequently, afternoon admissions occupy the nurse’s time and med pass is late. Nurses' meetings can also cause med pass delays.

Each nurse is assigned a cart. If that nurse is unavailable or behind, another nurse could be designated to fill the gap. Then residents would not get anxious because of a medicine delay.

I feel residents should be allowed to be proactive and go to the med cart to get their medicine. Residents will get confused at times and ask for medicines at the wrong times, particularly pain medicines. Even I have not remembered taking a pill after a nurse interrupted my writing to give it. I wonder if my memory failed me because I did not go get the pill myself. Perhaps if our brains are not required to remember to take medicine, they become lazy.

Many alert and oriented residents feel they are helping themselves and the nurse when they go to the med cart at medicine time. Med pass is important and it might go better if residents want to play a role in it.

Kathleen Mears



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



Alert, oreinted residents have the right to self administer meds. NO ONE should be disturbing the nurse at the cart. This is how med errors occur. Perhaps you all should be taking fewer meds.

Kathleen, such great insights into life in a nursing home. It reminds me of my experience, that often nursing homes expect the "patient" to comply with the routines - but what if they don't work for an individual - can an alternative be arranged? It reminds me of a friend of mine, who said 30 years ago, everyone got tea with milk and 2 sugars, so we have come a long way, but I wonder how these facilities will cope as consumer demand for flexibility and choice increases - and it will.

Take care