Village Voice: November 2019

Rumours & Half-Truths

All sorts of mail comes across my desk each day, recently one letter gave me reason to pause and I felt great sadness. Although it was anonymous, it was from whom I believe to be a well-meaning and kind Village Resident who was expressing grave concerns about things they had been told by other Residents about one of our aged care facilities.

The letter details how beautiful bedspreads were allegedly taken away bundled into plastic bags and discarded in a back room, however what the letter does not reveal is that this was one a small part in a much larger process that occurred.

The larger truth is, that our regular Doctor who visits had identified that oversize bedspreads hanging over onto the floor is a high risk and that frailer Residents are likely to become tangled in the long bedspread and fall when trying to get up. Falls from bed present a very high risk of fractured hips which we know can be extremely difficult to recover and rehabilitate from in older frailer adults.

Indeed this exact same scenario happened only a few short weeks ago in an independent unit where a resident became tangled in their bedspread and spent many hours on the floor unable to get up because their emergency call button was left on the bedside table. As part of our falls minimisation efforts, the Doctor’s concerns with the use of oversized bedspreads was considered and the clinical team determined that the oversized bedspreads were a real risk of contributing to falls and fractures.

Once this clinical risk was identified, the Resident Services Coordinator worked with Residents and families to identify bedspreads that were oversized for the beds, and then worked with them to find an individual solution for each person – some wanted to use a smaller bedspread from home, some families were going to sew them shorter, some Residents wanted something fresh and new. Our Housekeeping Supervisor also gave staff education on how to make the beds to minimise the amount that the bedspread hung over the side. Bedspreads were then removed and placed in a safe place for families to collect them when they were able to.

As you can see a huge amount of individual assessment, collaboration and consultation went into the changes that saw some oversized bedspreads replaced with bedspreads that were smaller and safer. Unfortunately, someone has chosen to tell only one small paragraph of this much larger story and in doing so has created distress for others in spreading their rumour and half-truth.

Similar clinical risk identification processes happen all the time, for example if a resident has a fridge in their room, but it is frequently found to be filled with spoiled food or food from sources unknown to the staff or family that could harm the resident if they ate it, the staff work with the family to find a safer way to store favourite treats. Another example is working with individual Residents and their Doctors to moderate the availability of foods that could harm them, such as a Resident who is on a weight reduction program to help them feel more comfortable breathing at night, may ask staff to keep their chocolate or alcohol in a place other than their room to remove the temptation to overeat.

I have learnt over the last 20 years at the Village, which despite our best efforts, there will always be a small number of people who, for their own reasons, like to tell only part of a story to maximise the upsetting impact that it has on others. I cannot stop this kind of behaviour, indeed it happens in all arenas in life, but what I can do is tell the larger story as I have above and hope that you will see the action that was taken was part of a much bigger picture and is consistent with our philosophy of every person cared for, every person valued.

As always, if you hear something that alarms you, does not sound right or concerns you, please let me or one of our Managers know so that we can investigate and see if we need to take action to fix something that is wrong or if we need to provide reassurance and more information. Your communications, conversations and feedback are always welcomed and an important part of our continuous improvement process.

Til next month,

Kim Jackson, Executive Manager