What do I do??
I don't know if you care, or wonder what I do all day at work...but here was my day today. Arrive at the hospital and get onto the computer. Print out the daily nursing census worksheets for level 2 and 4 (where our patients are). We do the physio and occupational therapy for these two floors. Clean equipment that was left out from the day before. Bring some used and dirty wheelchairs upstairs to clean later. Meet with the OT and PT for rounds, to discuss the new patients and find out my assignments for the day. Start with my list of patients for ADL's (activities of daily living). This is basically a glorified way of saying, helping someone get ready for the day, and encouraging independence and proper body mechanics while doing so. I have done everything from helping with toileting (eww) to setting a person up at bedside to shave, to dressing, feeding, teeth, hair, washcloth bathing...you name it. Most of the patients need help learning how to use adaptive aids, or need cuing as they can't remember what they are doing from one minute to the next. I had three guys to see this morning. Then I moved on to the sewing room where I made a pillow cover for an square piece of foam used on an amputee board. It required pinning and sewing, and then putting 2 rows of velcro sewn just so, so it would stick onto a board. I finished in the nick of time and took the completed chair with the custom pillow down to a patient with a below knee amputation. Then I took her over to the exercise room where we proceeded to do her daily exercises in the parallel bars. We were missing some stretchy elastic bands to do her arm work, so we went down to the department to get some. While there, there was a fire alarm, so we had to wait for awhile. I then was called (we all wear walkie talkie things) by the OT to fix a broken strap on a reclining big wheel chair and some shaky armrests. I also had to run up and whole-punch some papers and find binders to put them in and label them for the OT. I was also called to find some anti-tippers for the amputees' wheelchair as it was missing one. Thank goodness I found it right away, as sometimes it can take awhile looking for things! I took lunch, which I was more than ready for, and then it was back to work with the PT. I usually meet up with her in the afternoon to help her with patients that require two people. Usually I'm there to follow closely with the wheelchair and/or IV pole/ O2 while she walks them, or to stand on the other side of the patient to help them up and out/into bed. I also run to grab things we need, like gait belts, walkers, heart monitors, lifts, etc. We did a few doubles, and then I taught a guy to do some bed exercises and wrote them out for him on a paper so he'd hopefully do them for "homework" over the weekend. Then I was asked to make a sign for another patient (reminders for nurses), and label a few chairs with names. Back upstairs now, and the PT had me help her with a few more patients. When she had some referrals to do, I was off on my own to walk a patient the loop of the unit. The OT left a note for me to hang some enlarged calendars I had made the day before in two patients rooms, and grab some sheepskin elbow covers and a special tray for another guy. A walker needed some screws tightened and a name put on. I had a bit more cleaning to do, and then it was time to do my charting on the computer. I finished right before four, so I didn't have time to clean those wheelchairs I had taken upstairs, and then I remembered I needed to bring the laundry over to a nearby care home. (We take our specialized cushion covers etc. over there to be washed rather than put into the general laundry that is shipped to Vernon, as we'd never see it again.) So I drove the laundry over (a block away) and delivered it. Phew. It was only ten after, and I was on my way home. So that was today. My job is nice in that every day is very different. I only sew about once a week. I have different patients to meet and work with. Sometimes I spend hours fitting people and making up wheelchairs to suit them. Other days I do nothing much with equipment and am mostly hands on with patients. I also help with educating people on hip protectors (special padded pants to wear for people who are a falls-risk). I help do up referrals and fax them where they need to be sent or do a little filing for the PT in the nursing charts. I have to communicate with my physio, OT and the nursing staff all throughout the day. I'm sort of there to help them all as necessary. It is very busy, and I'm running all day. There are occasional teaching times, where we discuss articles or watch instructional videos, or we even went to visit the newest extended care home. I really love the time spent with the patients, and I am sad when most of them go! I've watched some of them progress from flat out in the ICU, to independently walking. Thankfully none of my personal patients have died. I'm sure that would be hard. The acute care can be a really sad and lonely place, and it's all I can do to not sit on the edge of the bed when we're done "working" to visit with them!! Most of the ones I walk or do ADL's with, are talking non-stop the whole time. Aww. Some of the patients are really sick, or have just undergone an extensive surgery, and we're the first ones to get them up. It is important they keep up their strength, as muscle can turn to mush pretty fast. We also are trying to get them upright to prevent them from getting pneumonia. The physio is very conscious of chest health and we will work with the patients on deep breathing and coughing to prevent build up in those lungs. I'd say my least favorite job is with the equipment. Sometimes something that should take 5 min. takes an hour. For example...I was asked to install a rear-seat belt (for an escape artist) on a wheelchair. It became a huge job as the screw was stripped. I worked for ages to get it out and then had to search the place for a new one. I removed the regular belt strap and started looking for a long one. Nope...there was nothing. I finally found a piece of new strapping and made my own belt, taking off the metal part of the old one and putting it on this new piece, folding over the ends and sewing them, punching a hole for the screw, melting the hole so it wouldn't fray, and then screwing the thing back on. And while doing that, I'm feeling pressure as the physio is waiting to work with me! Never a dull moment. But it's good. I enjoy it, and I'm getting more comfortable every day with the people and the tasks. It's not an easy job, and sometimes isn't too pleasant, but it is definitely interesting. I don't intend to keep up full time forever, but it is good for me in gaining my skills faster than if I was casual. I am sure that by July, I will be quite confident and know what I am doing. The first four weeks have gone pretty quick.