Sufficient caregiver training: vulnerable adults deserve nothing less.

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Local and Federal governments have more red on their accounting ledgers than black.  Citizens balk against any raise in taxes, regardless of how infinitesimal the increase.  The same citizens demand more services from their government.  How does one get what they need without paying for it?

THEY DON’T.

I’m not a politician – and never will be.  I’m not a brilliant person nor do I fully understand all the nuances inherent in government bureaucracies.  About this one thing, however, I am absolutely certain: many valuable services that were initially set in place for those considered vulnerable in our society are still desperately needed for even a modicum of dignity and quality of life.  Did the needs suddenly disappear?  NO.  Did the vulnerable in our society somehow experience a miracle and are now fully capable of managing their lives on their own?  NO.  The needs are still there and the vulnerable in our society are being pushed to the wayside and are slipping through the cracks.  Do I like paying taxes?  NO.  I guess I’m wondering how to generate funds for needed programs without “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”  Taking from one program and sliding it over to a different program robs other needed services.  If ever there was a Catch-22, this is it.

Let’s look at caregiver training.  In Washington State, in the year 1996, caregivers were only required to pass First Aid training, CPR and HIV training, the Fundamentals of Caregiving training (22 hours), and had to successfully pass the State’s criminal background check.

In a Seattle Times article printed January 23, 2000, Push on for more caregiver training, the following statement begins the article:

With a first-aid card and some training about CPR and HIV, you can find yourself a challenging new job caring for the elderly and infirm, bathing them, feeding them, and fielding punches from them.  For this you can make about $7.50 an hour.  At McDonald’s, you can make more slinging burgers and fries.  It’s a wonder anyone cares for the elderly and infirm at all.

The year 2000.  For the third time in four years, the Washington State’s long-term-care ombudsman (who is independent of any government agency) pushed for more training for caregivers.  “The Legislature and the industry both need to step up and say this is an important key profession…People who take care of human beings are important people.”  State bill I-1029 passed which would increase the number of required training hours and implement specialty training for residents with special needs such as dementia, mental health, and developmental disabilities.    Implementation of this Bill’s provisions was delayed and set to go into effect March 1st, 2002.

Fast forward to February 2002.  Let’s look at another Seattle Times article, Caregiver-training issue causes split in state’s long-term-care community.  After the Bill from the year 2000 passed, the Department of Social and Health Services didn’t get the training curriculum revised in time for the March 1st, 2002 implementation so the State Legislature delayed the start-up of the new training requirements to September 1, 2002.  Private providers of long-term care – those not accepting Medicaid – would have to foot the bill to provide employee training, most certainly passing the costs along to their residents.  Long-term care facilities that accept Medicaid payments would rely on the State Medicaid program to provide the mandatory additional training and the State contended that the budget does not exist to provide the mandated training voted into law from initiative I-1029.  Time to go back to the drawing board.

Bear with me.  Fast forward to November 2008.  Let’s look again at another Seattle Times article, Voters back more caregiver training.  In 2008 a revised caregiver training Bill was passed requiring a training increase from 34 to 75 hours for new long-term care workers and required caregivers to undergo a Federal criminal background check.  This bill passed overwhelmingly.  It’s great that the citizens of my fair State decided that anyone taking care of the vulnerable should be held to a high standard.  Oops – in the same voting cycle, initiatives that would have imposed taxes on candy, soda pop, and other piecemeal purchases failed big time.  These miniscule, microscopic taxes would have saved vital services for the vulnerable and would have helped the State pay for the “mandated” new training.  No money – no increased training – no Federal background checks.

One more time.  Fast forward to November 2011.  Washington voters asked to boost caregiver training again, Seattle Times.  The Legislature delayed the implementation of the 2008 Bill because of budget cuts.  And during the voting cycle of 2011, a re-worked caregiver training initiative made it to the ballot once again as Initiative I-1163, right in the middle of an ever-increasing budget crisis, and the Washington State voters overwhelming approved it.  Implementation of the new training and background check requirements are set to start in 2012.  Lawmakers pushed implementation to 2014 but the good news is that the Legislature won’t be able to delay implementation of the new requirements without a two-thirds majority.  As of March 1, 2012 – the Washington State legislature has yet to finalize any enactment of the Bill protecting vulnerable adults; those that the voters of my state approved – and voted for – numerous times since the early 1990’s…stay tuned…

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR STATE?

HOW IS YOUR STATE PROTECTING YOUR VULNERABLE ADULT POPULATION?

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Five Sources of Hope for the Deeply Forgetful, Dementia in the 21st Century

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Five Sources of Hope for the Deeply Forgetful, Dementia in the 21st Century.

I’ve found the Alzheimer’s Reading Room to be very helpful in my efforts to continually improve my understanding of Alzheimer’s and other dementia.  The good news?  Subscribing to the Reading Room is free!  I hope all benefit from this attached article about dementia in the 21st century.

Common Caregiver Challenges

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Common Caregiver Challenges.

The words Caregiver and Challenge go hand-in-hand.  Here’s an article to shed some light on a caregiver’s predicament.

Activities for People With Dementia

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Activities for People With Dementia.

It’s very difficult to successfully engage someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.  I hope you benefit from this Blog article by Lauren Watral.

Examining our gratitude levels

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By the time you read this article, I hope you’ve already read the reblogged article I posted entitled “Up Your Gratitude,” published in a Parade Magazine article earlier this year.  That article was part of the inspiration for this article and can be found in this same Blog category.

I recently watched an Oprah Network special wherein Oprah visits families of Hasidic Jews.  One of the families had NEVER seen a television show in their lives and didn’t even know who Oprah was until her staff approached the family about this project of interviewing a Hasidic Jewish family.  This family consisted of the husband and wife and 9 children, the oldest of which was 17 years old and the youngest, 18 months.  If you can believe what the 17 year old son said – and I think I do – he has absolutely never watched TV and is an extremely happy teenager.  The couple’s 15 year old daughter loves not having the normal pressures associated with young teen girls.  “There’s no pressure” she explained.

Hasidic schoolchildren in Łódź, circa 1910s.
Image via Wikipedia

None of the children had ever heard of the names that Oprah tossed into their conversation: from cartoon characters such as Micky Mouse and Sponge Bob Squarepants, to Beyonce and other well-known entertainers.  Nope, they had no idea what or who she was talking about.  Considering they had never heard of Oprah, that’s not at all surprising.

And yet they were extremely happy and grateful people.

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT RELIGION – it’s about the lack of wanting more,wanting better, and wanting bigger as it relates to consumerism.  Each person Oprah interviewed talked about the lack of pressure in their life to want, want, and want even more.  As a matter of fact, the wife in this family of 9 children, who is pregnant with her 10th child, said the only time she had a feeling of wanting more was when she was able to upgrade to a better wig when her earnings increased.  (At a certain age, Hasidic women must cover their hair as a gesture of modesty, be it a scarf or a wig.)  So when this woman was able to get a better wig she experienced an “Aha” moment – getting a better, more natural looking wig satisfied a want for something more that she hadn’t ever experienced.  Gratitude abounded in this household that most definitely doesn’t resemble our idea of a “normal” frantic-ridden, electronic guided, household.

Time to check my own gratitude level – and level of personal satisfaction.  When you receive not-so-good service at an establishment, do you trash its character to others so that they are aware of the establishment’s failings and will curtail their support of its business?  It’s easy to complain about something isn’t it?  It’s harder – but better – to compliment someone who does a great job:

  • Writing a note to the manager of a salon you frequent, complimenting the stylist who always does such a great job on your haircut and/or color.  It’s not enough that you tell the stylist how satisfied you are.  Tell the one who signs his paychecks and sets his schedule – that’s where the thank you also needs to go so that your favorite stylist receives something for his/her efforts.
  • Going out of your way to thank someone in person, or by thank you note, for their volunteerism at church or other community venue;
  • Calling or writing a note, not texting, not e-mailing, when you’re grateful for something you received as a gift;
  • When your coworker does a great job, or your child does something in the home without being asked, or when you are simply grateful for the commitment your spouse has to his or her job that assures constant financial support in the home – acknowledge their efforts instead of simply appreciating them in your own mind.

Who benefits from appreciative thoughts if they are not expressed to the person who inspired them?  Gratitude expressed provides more benefit than you can imagine.  Don’t you want to start a ripple effect of gratitude in your small corner of the universe?  Get that ripple going – you’ll be better off as a result, and everyone to whom that ripple touches will benefit as well.

Up Your Gratitude: ThankYou Notes Can Have Profound Effects | Parade.com

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Up Your Gratitude: ThankYou Notes Can Have Profound Effects | Parade.com.

The attached article, published on January 1, 2012 in the Sunday newspaper’s Parade Magazine section, had a great impact on me; so much so that I wrote my own blog article today, about the effects of gratitude on one’s life.  I hope you enjoy both articles.

Alzheimers Caregiving, It’s All in the Palm of Your Hand

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Alzheimers Caregiving, Its All in the Palm of Your Hand.

No is the biggest, most frequently used word in the Alzheimer’s World Dictionary.  This article, reblogged from the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, addresses the difficulties of communicating with a person with dementia.  Remember – don’t always take No for an answer.