In a previous nursing home, I saw aides who gave notice before leaving, who were fired and some who were rehired. This was more likely to happen when the facility got a new director of nursing or new ownership.
Some rehired aides were good workers. Some were not. Many times after an aide quit or was fired, I would suggest to the director of nursing that she might not want to rehire them. However, many times former employees returned anyway. I know how badly aides are needed. I understand that hiring an aide who previously worked at the facility and knows the routine is beneficial.
At my current nursing home, former aides are rehired as well. Maddie* has worked here on and off for more than five years. She had given notice and quit previously only to return after a few months. However, two years ago she left suddenly, which may not have been by choice. Nevertheless, she was rehired.
When Maddie first started working here, she took good care of me. Many days she kept me laughing at her stories about her little girl's shenanigans. Over time, Maddie became stressed because she was working two full-time jobs to make ends meet. Then Maddie and I got into it frequently. It seemed like we brought out the worst in each other.
When Maddie returned last winter, I asked her if she thought we could get along. She said, "Oh, you know I can be a little bipolar." Despite her wry smile, I winced. I endeavored to get along with Maddie, but we got into it a few days after she started.
I knew if Maddie had been different I may not have reacted. But I also knew I would have to change if I wanted things to improve. Even though Maddie makes me anxious, she knew most of my routine.
Maddie feels I nitpick. She also thinks I am too strident about my routine, but the routine gives me a sense of normalcy. During the years I lived on my own, I hired and trained my caregivers. I had to find the balance between being boss and friend, which is difficult. I had to overlook a caregiver's idiosyncrasies in order to have a productive life.
On the days Maddie is my aide, I take a deep breath and try to be subdued. When the lack of conversation makes me uneasy, I try to initiate conversation. That way Maddie can gauge how much she wants to contribute. I also forewarn Maddie if I feel I am having a less-than-stellar day.
I know being an aide is not easy. Aides never know what will happen. All of us residents are different, but we all remember how someone makes us feel. I would like Maddie to feel more comfortable around me. If she and I can have more pleasant interactions, perhaps both of our tempers will de-escalate from hair-trigger. So far, both Maddie and I are having much smoother interactions.
*Name has been changed
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.