Something to say

May

It’s been one of those weeks; I’m drained, empty. I feel like there’s nothing left to give. Nothing left to do…except cry. So I do.
I’m with a friend–more like a life-mentor–and I feel like I’m pouring out my soul, alternatively crying and raging as I tell the story of my week.
“It’s not fair. It’s not even doable any more,” I say. “The policy makers are reinventing the wheel on stupid stuff, but they aren’t even willing to look at the real problem. There’s no way they don’t know. There’s too many studies out, more literature than there’s ever been. But they don’t care. They won’t listen.”
I’m going round in circles, I know: repeating the same list of wrongs. “World without end,” I say bitterly. “It’s an ouroboros, a snake of apathy eating it’s own tail. Vicious cycle.”
It’s a mark of how well my mentor knows me that she’s able to keep up with my mythological metaphors and decipher what I’m really trying to convey.
“So break the cycle,” she tells me. “Try something you haven’t before; write a letter to your representative, your congressman, whatever–or rather whoever you can think of.”
“And what would be the point in that?” I demand wearily. “They don’t–”
“Oh, it might very well lead to nothing. Or it could be something,” she replies. “I seem to recall you saying something very similar when you started writing for this blog. Give it a try and see what happens.”

Something’s gotta give. We can’t go on like this. I’m burned out. I’m done. This is stupid. Nobody cares.
This is the murmured chorus of long term care. It’s a chorus of discontent according to some; a chorus of despair according to others.
From my point of view, it’s not just bitching. It’s a cry for help, because how are we really supposed to do our jobs with a hand and a foot tied behind our backs? How much longer are the policy makers going to dump more and more complex procedures on us without addressing the fact that we can’t properly follow them without adequate staffing? It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. I can’t provide the same high level of care for 12+ residents in eight hours that I can for 8 or less in the same amount of time. This is God’s honest truth.
What’s to be done? Anything? Nothing? What can be done? I like to think I’m proactive about my career…but the sad truth is I had never thought about writing a letter to my representative about my perspective of the Long Term Care system. Never crossed my mind. It’s not something I’ve ever heard of an aide doing either.
But my friend is right, I think: writing a letter is something I can do, beyond what I’ve already tried. It might not go far, but it’s worth a shot.

So on August 1st, I will be mailing out letters to my representatives. I will be writing down my concerns about our current long term care systems–especially concerns of staffing and resident-to-aide ratios.
I encourage you, my fellow aides and readers of this blog, to do the same. We are intelligent, compassionate and eloquent human beings. We’ve got something to say, a perspective worth sharing with our elected representatives.
Let’s say it together.