This is an article that everyone needs to read. The facts are these, that sometimes a nursing home will actually teach and train a new resident or patient to be incontinent. How does this happen? How can something like this happen in this day and age? I will type here how this happens with an example of a forty-five year old female patient who entered a nursing home for short term care for therapy.
Here is the story:
At the hospital, the patient was not incontinent, never had accidents and was able to sleep and live without wearing diapers, just like in the regular world. Then the hospital transferred the patient into a good nursing home so that she could get short-term therapy for an injury to her left leg. She would need the therapy, physical therapy in order to learn to walk again. She now had the use of only one leg.
Immediately when she got to the nursing home, the nurse, who would be caring for her, asked if she wanted to wear a diaper. The patient hesitated answering because she thought that question was odd. After all, she did not need a diaper, nor did she want to wear a diaper. The nurse proceeded to say things like, well, in case you have an accident. The patient was basically, politely talked into wearing a diaper while at the nursing home, even though it was against her better judgment to begin wearing diapers at her age since she did not need diapers.
As in all nursing homes and hospitals, when patients are wearing diapers, they are told to go in their diapers. After all, that is what a diaper is for, correct? So this patient, at times, would just go in the diapers, using herself to have a bowel movement, since she was wearing the diaper. What it amounted to was that it was easier to dump in the diaper than it was to get a nurse to come to help her out of bed, then help her to the bathroom. The patient became increasingly afraid of falling and was made o think that diaper would stop falls and the diaper would also stop the patient from calling the nurse to help her to the bathroom. After all, make the nurse happy because she is the one who will be around most, for emergencies and all.
But from the beginning with this particular nurse who talked the patient into wearing a diaper, the patient and probably many other patients were put in diapers for the convenience of the nursing home, not for the convenience of patients. The patient did in her diaper one day and the nurse became a little upset about what happened, and then the nurse convinced the patient that she had an accident. When indeed, the patient had no accident, but instead the patient dumped in the diaper BECAUSE she was wearing a diaper and because when the patients rang for help, they had to wait and wait for someone to come and help them. Family members witnessed how long it took a nurse to come there one day, just to change the diaper. So the nursing home gave so many mixed messages to the patients that the patients eventually became confused as to why the heck they were in diapers to begin with.
So, many times, nursing home patients are automatically put in diapers for convenience. The homes make the patients lose their dignity — they do not need diapers yet they are emotionally forced to wear diapers. This is a large, important issue that city officials need to look into. And when looking into it they need to realize that patients are reluctant to disagree with the nurses that give them daily care. So if a nurse even hints that a patient should wear diapers, guess what? That patient will be wearing diapers before you know it.
First, the diaper was put on for the sole convenience of the nursing home, and the patients were talked into wearing diapers IN CASE THEY HAVE AN accident. So patients complied by saying, okay, put me in a diaper. But what some patients did not realize was that by wearing diapers, that gave the staff more permission to not come quickly when the bell is rung because the staff knows the patient in in a diaper and they will not have to clean sheets if there is an accident. In other words, accidents are approved of, rather than having a patient in no diaper and rather than having a patient need to be escorted back and forth to the bathroom which TAKES more time for nurses to do, they encourage the patients to wear diapers.
By wearing diapers, ambulatory patients who just need assistance going to the bathroom, are encouraged to be LESS independent. They are now encouraged to stay in bed more simply because they are wearing diapers. The less bathroom trips , the more bed time, and the less bathroom trips, the less walking a patient does. After a week or so, the patients wonder why they are not as strong as they were when they were in the hospitals and no one makes the connection that the diaper is actually making them weaker and weaker because they are out of bed that many times LESS. As each day in the diaper passes, the patient becomes less independent and more dependent on staff to change diapers.
This whole procedure is wrong. There are SOME patients that need diapers due to medical reasons , but for the most part, many patients are simply talked into wearing diapers for convenience. It is insinuated that if they are wearing a diaper they will not have sheets accidents and it is insinuated and implied that the staff will be happier with the patient if the patient is wearing a diaper. Happy staff equals happy patient, correct? Incorrect. Just because the staff is happy that they have so many less trips to the bathroom, that does not mean the patients are happier. The patients are taught and trained to be incontinent and they are taught and trained to be happy that they are wearing diapers JUST IN CASE.
What happened to your relatives in the nursing homes? Were they put in diapers for convenience? Are they still wearing diapers? Do they seem less independent now that they are wearing diapers?
I am not speaking about regular patients who NEED, who medically need to be in diapers because they are incontinent, I am speaking of patients who have not been and who are not incontinent, and these patients are politely convinced, persuaded by staff to be in diapers. And all the while the staff is politely insisting they wear diapers JUST IN CASE, the nurse says, if you want to , it is your choice. It is your choice if you want a diaper. She states that to the patient and keeps stating IN CASE you have an accident. Basically , she is instilling the idea in a patient that she will have an accident and it is better for the patient to have a diaper. The patient agrees just to please a staff member.
Yet the moment a patient agrees to please these staff members, that is the moment that the patient becomes less independent. And is not the purpose of rehab to have the patient MORE independent? So the nursing home is giving the patient a mixed message. The first message is that you are there for short-term therapy, and yet, you need to wear a diaper JUST IN CASE.
What about your relatives? If you relative is there for short-term therapy and your relative is NOT in medical need of diapers, then should your relative be in diapers? Probably not. IF there is no medical need for the diaper, why is the patient wearing a diaper? Other reasons, yes, Virginia, the staff wants patients in diapers to prevent falls.
Why are there more falls with patients who do not wear diapers? There are more falls because when the bell rings, when a patient rings a bell for a nurse to come to aid someone to accompany someone to the restroom, the patient has to wait and wait and wait, and so frustratingly, some patients, decide to get up on their own and walk to the restroom instead of waiting so long for a nurse to come. So patients learn that they will wait and wait and wait, so they better have a diaper on. That is the implied message and that is the reality of the situation.
Patients wait. Those patients that are wearing diapers can eventually dump in the diaper rather than have wet or soaked sheets or poop in sheets. So patients are taught, systematically taught that they need diapers even though it is their choice, it is their decision; these places make it so that the patient really has no choice in the matter. What their real choices are is these:
- They can wear wait and wait and wait and wait when they need to have a bowel movement or urination. And wait and wait and then have an accident on the sheets, on their clothing, all over them OR
- They can wait and wait and wait and wait after they ring the bell and then they can try to get to the restroom on their own since they are waiting so long, and then risk a fall or actually fall OR
- They can opt to wear a diaper and if they are waiting too long, they can just dump in the diaper.
If you were a patient and you knew you were there temporarily which choice would you take? Would you risk falling when you might be in there for the reason that you need help walking? Or would you risk pooping or urinating all over your clothes or sheets and then having the nurse extremely upset with you? OR would you say, okay I will have a diaper on JUST IN CASE? This is what patients and staff do. The staff , SOME staff, train the patients to become incontinent just for convenience of staff because there is no time for them to help patients to the bathroom. Remember with some patients, the staff might have to do some lifting, and with other patients it might take a long time to walk a patient to the rest room and the staff does NOT have the time. These nursing facilities who follow these policies of telling patients to wear diapers JUST IN CASE are doing harm to patients. They are teaching patients to become less independent, while the main goal for most short-term therapy patients is to become MORE independent not less independent.
If you ever are a patient that has this situation, TELL them you do not want to wear a diaper. And then document how long it takes for the staff to come to your aid after you ring the help bell for assistance to go to the bathroom. Document each time so that you are not made to wait and wait and wait and wait and then mess your sheets. When they let you wait and wait, they are merely training you to wear diapers and training you to become like a baby and become more dependent on them to change your diaper.
Here is advice for patients who are able to go to the restroom by themselves, just tell the staff that you do not medically need diapers and that when they come to your aid when they should come to your aid, there will be no accidents. AND best of all , if there is an accident, the staff will handle that and not let you wait and wait and wait and wait while you lay in your accident.
The ONLY time that patients should be in diapers for convenience is when patients are traveling outdoors and or making short or long trips by ambulance, ambulette or access-a-ride. In these cases, it makes sense for patients to use diapers. The reason? When you are outdoors the restrooms are usually so far away and some are not wheelchair accessible. And you just never know if there will be a bathroom anywhere. So, it is important to use diapers only for traveling because if you are outside and have an accident on your clothing, you will be outdoors in wet clothing, and especially in winter, you are putting yourself at risk for illness by staying in wet, or soiled clothing for the length of your trip outdoors. However, once indoors at the nursing home facility, and once indoors at your residence, if you do not medically need diapers, you should not be wearing diapers at all.
Just because a human has an accident because they were waiting too long for help, that is not a reason why people need to wear diapers inside of nursing homes. Lets help make things better not worse for our relatives and for patients inside of these nursing homes.
Each and every LESS bathroom trip makes your patient less independent and makes them more dependent on you, on staff and when they get home they will be in a condition worse than they were when they arrived at the nursing home for healing.
What are your thoughts on this. I would like to hear from patients who were convinced by staff to wear diapers when they did not medically need to wear diapers. Did staff do this to you too? Please leave a comment or send a confidential email . Your connection is important. With unity, we can change the system. All patients, residents and families need to unite in getting better and quicker service inside of nursing homes so that people are not made to wear diapers when they do not medically need to wear diapers.
Yes, of course, if your medical condition is that you medically need to wear diapers then you should. No one is telling you to go against doctor’s orders. All I am saying is that you should NOT be in diapers for the sole convenience of the staff. And hundreds if not thousands of patients are put in diapers on a daily basis for the sole convenience of the staff.
Disclaimer: This article is written by a writer, observer, researcher, and author. I am not advocating walking around in the nursing home if you need help. I am advocating that patients do not wear diapers if they do not medically need to wear diapers. I am advocating that patients not be talked into wearing diapers for the sole convenience of the staff or in their own words, JUST IN CASE! No patient needs to wear a diaper JUST IN CASE when that patient never was and is not incontinent. It is ridiculous to wear a diaper JUST IN CASE!
It is in wearing diapers JUST IN CASE that makes patients less independent and more dependent and it basically teaches and trains patients to poop in their pants and to urinate in their pants when they do not medically need to do that. Let us give these patients back their dignity, and instead, let us run to help them , run to escort them to the restroom instead of letting them wait and wait and wait and wait. That makes more sense. Any patients who medically need to wear diapers should wear diapers. Any patients who have doctors orders to wear diapers for MEDICAL reasons, should wear diapers. That is all that I am saying. Please respond with your comments.
Did you hear about the woman who was found naturally-glued to her boyfriend’s toilet. They claim that she had been there for more than two years and that her skin grew around the toilet bowl making her permanently attached to the bowl. Why in the world did this woman sit there for two years? Here is a suggestion. Perhaps she had previously been in a nursing home. In some nursing homes, the practice is to let them sit on the bowl forever practically. Patients wait as time passes by, until someone has time to help them back to their beds. And patients know this. That is why so many residents and patients are literally afraid to enter into nursing homes and physical rehabilitation and care centers. They are afraid of losing their dignity. They know that they will be asked to either sit on the bowl forever without help of getting up OR they will lose their dignity by having to wear diapers when they do not medically have to wear diapers.
Here is the news story, yes NEWS story of the toilet-bowl caper . This is probably what bad nursing homes and bad rehabilitation and care centers are doing to our human beings. They are making people so afraid to go to nursing homes , that people say they would rather die than go to a nursing home, and some would sit at their homes glued to toilet bowls because of the fear that the nursing homes have put into them.
I need your input here. I need to hear from you. And you need to share your experience so that everyone else knows what is really happening inside of those nursing homes. The goals of staff , the personal nursing staff that ushers people to bathrooms are conflicting goals with having patients become more independent.
Please, I beg you to respond and let us hear your thoughts on this matter. Your input is greatly appreciated.
I updated this article on May 20, 2008.