I had 10 patients I was responsible for, some of whom were able bodied and just needed a little assistance. However, I had a few people who are significantly impaired both physically and mentally and I try to make them my priority.
Most of my able bodied people are really very patient and understanding, but a couple of them want what they want when they want it and they want it NOW, and if I don't get to them NOW they get upset. Last night was one of those nights when that attitude seemed prevalent. I had to explain two of three times that I cannot and will not leave someone who can't change or bathe themselves laying in a soiled bed or half naked directly before/after a shower so that I can adjust the fan in their room or turn the light off - things that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves, btw.
When I'm in a patient's room, not matter what their level of function, I make that patient my priority, no matter how much time it takes. I may not look like I'm doing much when I'm standing next to someone's bed, holding their hands, stroking their hair or just talking to them, but I AM doing something. One of my patients last night Sundowns pretty badly, so I made sure to take a little time getting her settled and off to sleep instead of just throwing her in bed and running off to the next patient. Another patient came and interrupted me two or three times, which upset the woman I was caring for and put me right back at square one when it came to getting her settled.
When I was taking care of the patient who had interrupted me, I tried to explain my philosophy about making the patient a priority.
"I'm in your room now, so YOU are my priority."
"Well, I should be your priority ALL the time. That's what you're here for, to look after me."
"That's partially true, yes, but I also look after 9 other people. Sometimes I have to prioritize and sometimes there are going to be more important things for me to do than adjust your fan or turn your light off. If you had soiled your bed, wouldn't you want me to come take care of you?"
"I don't wet my bed! I never have! If I did, you'd better be in here to change me, I'm not gonna lie in a wet bed! That's wrong!"
"Exactly. Now do you understand a little better?"
"I have rights, you know!"
"Yes, you do, and so does every other patient in this facility."
"well, they shouldn't. Some of them don't even know what day it is..."
I could see that this conversation was going nowhere fast, so I took care of what the patient needed and asked them if there was anything else I could help them with. They said no, so I left the room and went to prepare one of my more impaired patients for bed. Not 30 seconds after I left the room, the call light went on. I answered it immediately.
"How can I help you?"
"Oh, I don't want anything. I just wanted to see how fast you'd come. I'm glad that you've learned that I am to be the priority here. That's good. You can go now."