To the nursing staff, and aides at Anchor Lodge nursing home:
Let me ask you a question: Why did you choose to work here? Was it for a paycheck or was it to help take care of sick patients? Answer that question to yourself honestly. Whichever answer you chose, there is no excuse for neglecting a patient. Even if you are there just to get that paycheck, you should be taking a certain pride in your work and earning your paycheck. If you are working at Anchor Lodge and you chose this place for your employment to help make a difference in the lives of patients, and care for them because they are unable to care for themselves, then SHAME ON YOU for failing at that task when it came to my mother.
My mom was diagnosed with Lung Cancer on February 10, 2016. My mom passed away on April 15, 2016. As you can see, that time went very fast for us. The majority of that time was spent at the Cleveland Clinic downtown until they told us my mom was too weak for any treatment, there was nothing more to do, and she needed to be discharged to a skilled nursing facility with hospice. Please imagine being in that position with someone you love. Especially your very young mother, 55 years old is much too young to die, let alone be forced to live in a nursing home. When my mom was admitted to Anchor Lodge, she felt great! In fact, it was incredibly difficult to be the youngest amongst a building full of elderly patients. But she made the most of everyday because she understood she didn’t have many good days ahead, and her time was short.
On Friday, April 8th I received a call from New Life Hospice that my mom had begun “rapidly declining”. Death was not necessarily imminent but it was clear there had been a drastic change. I left work to be with my mom and I spent the entire day with her. As the day went on her change became more and more dramatic. Her pain continued to increase, which I told the nurse about every chance I got. She was no longer making any sense; the words coming out of her mouth were jibberish. She could no longer swallow her pills, or feed herself. She could no longer stand or walk without assistance. She did not understand the concept of a call light or to even ask for help if she needed to use the restroom. If I left the room for more than 3 minutes, I would come back to find her trying to get out of bed and stand up. I caught her in my arms from falling 4 times. She had to keep using the restroom and I would push the call light for help but no one would come. I began timing how long it would take someone to get to her and the longest time was 18 minutes. I would never expect someone to instantly be there, but anything over 5 minutes is not acceptable. I would yell for help, no one was even in sight. One time I yelled for help and an aide started walking very slowly toward me, full of attitude. One time this very same aide sat my mom down on her bed and scolded her, “Next time you need to use the bathroom you push that call light and you ask for a wheelchair!!” I informed this aide that my mom no longer made sense of anything she was saying to her, but the aide didn’t even acknowledge me. She then tried to explain to my mom that she needed to scoot closer to the top of the bed, which my mom did not understand. The aide proceeded to grab my mom by the back of the pants and pull her where she wanted her to be, and my mom literally screamed in pain and surprise. That was the final straw for me; I knew I had to get my mom out of there unless I wanted to spend 24/7 with her. I did not feel comfortable leaving to go home when I knew my mom wouldn’t get the care she needed. I did not expect someone to be there at every beck and call, but I certainly expected better than what she got. I will never forget the nurse, Eva laughing when my mom told her she was in excruciating pain. I did not see anything funny about that. I also did not see the point of Eva rudely entering my mom’s room and in a harsh voice yelling, “I HAVE MORE MEDS FOR YOU KATHY!” and not only scaring my mom and her roommate, but scaring myself. I was so thankful for New Life Hospice for making my mom a priority and getting her moved to their facility last minute. After New Life Hospice called me and told me transport had been arranged and my mom would be moved soon, Eva the nurse came to tell me my mom would not be going anywhere that night because New Life Hospice was understaffed, which was a lie.
I worked in an assisted living facility for over 10 years. I started in dietary, was promoted to receptionist, and then promoted to community relations coordinator. My point in telling you this is to try and explain that I knew what to look for, both good and bad. I saw the good when I toured your facility, and I saw the bad the minute my mom needed more care. Also, treating me like an annoyance was not acceptable. Even if you found me annoying, I deserved to be treated with respect. You should have calmly explained things to me instead of dismissing me, and belittling me. In my time at the assisted living facility I NEVER treated family members of my residents like they were annoying or bothersome. Not only would it be against my own ethics, but I would have lost my job! My bosses did not accept anything less than the best, and had administration heard anything of the sort that would mean immediate termination. I also found it very rude and inappropriate to yell at the woman in the room across from my mom to stop banging on whatever she was banging on every single night. “STOP BANGING!!!” “PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!!” “SERIOUSLY SHUT UP, I COULD HEAR YOU ALL THE WAY DOWN THE HALL!” Yes, no doubt that was annoying...but how dare you raise your voice at that poor woman. I hope someone yells at you when you don’t understand what is going on and that is your only way of communicating, to bang on something. Would you want someone you cared about being yelled at by someone you are supposed to be trusting to care for your loved one?
Is this the best you all can do? Would you trust your own loved one with some of your own staff? How can you sleep at night knowing you were rude to someone who depends on you? Let me tell you, no one willingly walks into Anchor Lodge or ANY nursing home and says “I can’t wait to live here! I would much rather live in this nursing home than be independent at my own home!” No one wants to depend on strangers to care for them, to toilet them, to bathe them, to feed them. The people in your care have no choice but to be there. How dare you take advantage of that? Those people were just like you and I at some point in their lives, and one day before you know it, you will be the woman banging on something for attention. You will be the 55 year old woman who 3 months ago was absolutely fine, but all of a sudden is dying of an aggressive cancer who has to be in a nursing home where the staff is rude and degrading the minute you need more care.
I will be making sure anyone I come in contact with knows about my experience, and my mom’s experience. My mom wasn’t able to speak for herself that day, but I know what she expected, and I know how she deserved to be treated. I will speak for her and myself when I tell anyone I can to avoid Anchor Lodge at all costs. Your beautiful facility is an expensive cover up for what is going on when no one is watching. Shame on you.