Protect Resident Dignity by Staying Put

Today my barber told me that it was his last day – he was quitting the shop. This guy has been cutting my hair for almost a year, and he’s someone I trust. There aren’t many people that I let come around my head with scissors. A haircut is a personal thing, and it’s nice to have that familiarity with the people that take care of you. One thing that my barber mentioned, somewhat apologetically, was that while leaving the shop itself was easy, having to deliver this news and essentially “quit” with each of his regular customers was very difficult.

Now you be the barber and your customers are the residents. Do you go out of your way to make your residents comfortable? Not nice, but comfortable. It’s your job to build that relationship with each resident so they can focus on living rather than the discomforts of requiring assistance from others. And we aren’t just cutting hair. We’re inserting catheters, doing 5am bladder scans, inspecting the skin of grown adults in the shower, naked and vulnerable – and often assuming that their comfort level is equal to ours. You can be a professional caregiver, but there are no professional residents. Nobody should have to “get used to” going to the bathroom in front of a stranger.

So you do everything that you can to build that comfort. You have wonderful respect for privacy of the residents and you even go out of your way to withhold that integrity when working with less-caring co-workers. I see these positive actions every day, and I have nothing but respect for those who put their hearts and minds on the line every day to help others.

Why then, caregivers, do you continue to move from job to job, facility to facility? If you truly believe in resident privacy, comfort, and dignity, why don’t you want that continuity for your residents? Are you a caregiver for yourself or for others? When faced with a difficult situation on the job, do you find yourself thinking about how it will affect you or your residents? How many issues that people quit over could be resolved if ours goals were better aligned?

My barber essentially quit…me. Sure, the barber shop will hire another guy, but it’s going to take me awhile to get used to him. He’ll probably screw up a little bit the first or second time, and I may be too timid to say anything. Just remember, please that once you’ve built those trust relationships with the residents, you aren’t quitting the organization as much as you are quitting the residents.

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