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Caregiving: Hospital vs Home

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Is there a difference to working in a hospital and caring for a loved one? How different are they?

I have two years hospital experience as a Licensed  Respiratory Therapist. Many wouldn't know what an RT's job is. While we have a lot of responsibilities one of the most noted is that we work with the sickest, the dying alongside nurses and doctors. You'll usually see us running to a code pushing a breathing machine, giving CPR, drawing a blood sample from the artery. Most of the time we get shunned but we are there, working relentlessly.

Sometimes people say that hospital staff in general grow numb in a matter of time. That we don't care, a patient dies in front of us "oh well, it happens". We don't grow numb but our job requires us to separate our feelings. We cannot make sound medical judgements when we are clouded by emotion. But no matter how hard we try, we do feel connection, concern and love towards our patients, we are only humans after all. Our job needs us to move on from one death to treating the next patient. But when all the hubbub subside that is when let the walls crash. There are times, though, when the loss of a dear patient is too much and we breakdown on the spot. When it all gets too much we ask for a break and we welcome it. Mostly it is physically exhausting and emotionally and mentally tiring. We feel for the patient's pain and fear. We feel for the families' anxiety and loss. But at the end of the day, those people come to our lives by chance, we didn't know them till their charts landed on our hands. At the end of the day our sadness must be locked up and proceed to next shift, anew. 

But what happens when a loved falls  gravelly ill, dying? 

This is exactly what I went through. I had to leave my job in one of the most prestigious hospitals in my country. Although my original plan was to study medicine but I dropped that too. I wanted to care for my grandma. 

People say that it's harder to care for a family member or a friend. I used to just ditch the idea. I mean, how different could they be? I was wrong! 24/7 you're anxious, you're awake day and night and on that rare occasion you do sleep your mind doesn't let you rest, one nightmare after the other that leaves you confused whether dream is better than reality. Both wakefulness and sleep are frightening. Being close with the patient makes you decide errantly. You think you're doing it for the patient but behind it you're doing it out of fear. That is why it's important to listen to what the patient wants. A lot of times we long for a 'me' a time, for a reprieve but when we do get it we long to be back beside our family. And when the inevitable happens you feel guilt, how could I be so selfish to want a break? But to want rest is again only human and normal, nothing to feel guilty about. But most of all the greatest difference is not seen or felt. Sure it is exhausting to care for the sick but the emotional and mental toll is beyond draining, to witness a loved one in pain and suffering, no escape from it, no sleep, no R&R to take it away. It haunts you long after the death. It is traumatizing at the least. But most,  including myself, will do it again in a heartbeat. 

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I agree with the fact that caring for the loved ones on your own becomes a bit difficult because of fear as you are emotionally and mentally attached to the person. In my opinion, if a person chooses to go forward with the experienced person in skilled nursing in order to take care of the loved ones, instead of taking care on your own, can be beneficial as another person can properly take care of the patient by not being emotional. This was the case with one of my close relatives, for whom skilled nursing facility was taken into consideration under original Medicare insurance plan from The Health Exchange Agency. This turned out to be very helpful for us as she has been taken care appropriately by the accomplished medical caretaker.

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I’ve done both and I’m grateful for the nurses and staff that helped me in the LTAC with my mother. I know they were so heartbroken when she passed. They grew attached to her and we shared a life changing experince together. I actually had to enter the facility again for ankther elative the other day and I ran into the food servjce gentlemen that tried to help my mom everyday for a month. We shared some tears and I thanked him for being so kind and gentle with her. I didn’t have the emotional strength to fully go down the ward that day and thank the wound care ladies and charge nurse, but I plan on doing so. Having my mom in the LTAC kept her alive longer I think. They said she could have gone home, but she needed everyday wound care and so I fought to keep her in their by appealing with insurance denials. It’s different for everyone with choices and I feel like I’ll always replay choices we made and questions things...but I think tou’re so right about feelings, anxiety and sleepless nights and how families take for granted staff at facilities and all that they do. Not everyone was great at the facilities, but I found that more than not, they really cared and did their best in an impossible situation and I did too. I woukdn’t have been able to do everything myself with her at home. Sending you wishes for oeace i your heart and strength. Thank you for sharing.

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