A Day in the Life of a Caregiver

Malak Sidky, MHSc sat down with a registered practical nurse from London, Ontario who has a unique perspective on caregiving, considering she provides home care services and also works in a nursing home environment. The following interview gives us a look into the benefits of providing care in each situation, as well as some of the differences between these two distinct models of care.

Life of a Caregiver What's it like to be a caregiver?

I interviewed a registered practical nurse (RPN) working in London, Ontario. She has 2 jobs, one for Nurse Next Door which provides home care services and the other at Chateau Gardens Nursing Home. I feel that she has the best of both worlds as she can work in people’s homes and at a government operated nursing home. I asked her a few questions about her career choices.

Q: Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) can work in hospitals, Long Term Care (LTC) facilities, etc. So what made you decide to provide care in people’s homes?

A: I think that working in people’s homes is so rewarding as you can provide individualized care for a longer period of time vs. a facility where there is a limit of time per resident. Also when you are in the person’s home, you can see the whole person and how they manage life in their own home.  For example, you can see their garden and see them working on their vegetable patch; this is something you would never have the opportunity to observe if they were in a facility! Also people are more talkative in their own environment. They are more apt to confide in you.

Q: What kind of clients do you help?

A: The woman that I am currently taking care of is recovering from eye surgery. My role is to assess her and her home environment in order to ensure that she is safe. I may find that due to her condition that the home and the day-to-day living activities may need some modifications.

Q: What are the advantages of providing nursing care in a facility?

A: What I like is that there is a variety of staff that you can consult. For example, the personal support worker (PSW) will ultimately have more information about the resident as they spend a lot of time with their residents and will know about any behavioural changes, skin care changes, etc., that the resident may have experienced on the shift before you come on board. Another professional you can consult with is the doctor. In most facilities, doctors are present once a week. So the main advantage of working in a facility would be the interprofessional collaboration that would exist in any organization. This collaboration will assist you in developing and/or modifying the resident’s care plan in order to provide the best possible care.

Q: Describe a typical day at Chateau Gardens Nursing Home.

A: I am in charge of 32 residents on the floor. I also supervise the PSWs and ensure they are current with each resident's care plan and that they follow the plan.

At the start of my shift, I view the reports from the previous shift to get an overview of what happened regarding each resident’s overall wellbeing. This gives me an idea of how I can prioritize my day. Then all medications are dispensed to the residents requiring them. I may also help residents requiring assistance for feeding. I am in charge of monitoring food and fluid intake for all residents.

Then I assess those residents who need therapies which can include:

Next steps would be to administer afternoon meds, documentation (updating charts, ordering supplies) and counting out the narcotics.

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Is there anything that surprises you about caregiving for a senior at home or in a nursing facility? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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