Don’t compare nurses to caregivers!
That’s the emphatic message from Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) President Blondelle Mullin in the wake of the release on social media of a video showing a paid helper physically abusing an 84-year-old Alzheimer’s-afflicted woman left in her care at Roseville Home for the Elderly in Christ Church.
Arielle King, 37, the caregiver seen in the video kicking and striking the elderly woman with a shoe and a book, has been charged with unlawful assault and was yesterday released on $3,000 bail.
While condemning King’s behaviour, Mullin sought to make it clear that the people who are employed by nursing homes must not to be confused with the professionals in the BNA.
“She is a caregiver, or nursing auxiliary, or health aid and those are just trained for six months.
“We just want people to not brand nurses and think that’s what nurses do because trained nurses know how to treat the elderly, and we know when they have Alzheimer’s how they behave. We know how to react to their behaviour, so a trained nurse would never treat a patient like that,” she told Barbados TODAY.
The BNA head stressed that there was quite some professional distance between the caregivers and trained nurses, explaining that a step up from nursing auxiliary would be the nursing assistant who would have completed a one-year training programme at the Barbados Community College. She said that in addition to being taught care giving, the nursing assistants also engaged in “actual nursing practices”.
On the other hand, she said general nurses underwent three years of training and were the only ones who were licensed while the auxiliaries and nursing assistants were given certificates.
Mullin said that the short training course for caregivers was adequate because it was packed with information, but course instructors and coordinators may need to spend more time teaching the paid helpers how to care for patients.
“You might have the information on how to do certain things but you also have to let them know that when working with the elderly what is expected of them,” she said.
She advised owners and operators of care homes to devise means of testing applicants’ suitability for the job even if they produce certificates of training.
“If a person does a course it doesn’t mean that they actually fit the job. They might not have the attitude, or the empathy for such a job.
“Looking after children and the old takes a lot of care and patience; if a person doesn’t have patience then that’s not the job for them. So even though [they] might train for the job, you still have to observe them,” the BNA president suggested.