I wasn’t going to write today, I know that I won’t be writing daily so I didn’t want to start with unrealistic goals. Having said that though, I am currently reading Man’s search for meaning (Victor E Frankl) and was inspired to add another page to my blog/diary/thing; this one dedicated to musings and thoughts about nursing. Let me preface this by warning you that my attitude and demeanour is usually directly affected by what I am reading. If I sound snobbish, it is because I am reading the work of a brilliant man. I can assure you, it won’t last.

Dr. Frankl is a psychiatrist, and though I wouldn’t dream of putting my experiences on par with his own in the concentration camps, some of the things he wrote brought my experiences in aged care to mind.

He writes,

“A man who could not see the end of his provisional existence, was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future. […] Therefore the whole structure of his inner life changed”

He is speaking here of his experience in the camp. While I would not go so far as to dishonour my profession by equating it to a camp, I at once thought of the ‘provisional existence’ many of my own residents experience.  Aged care residents (certainly in high care) are put there when they are incapable of living on their own. They become dependent on the of staff to assist them in almost every aspect of life. Is it any wonder then, that when stripped of their independence, told that they cannot bring the possessions that made their house a home. Items that hold so many memories in each chip and scrape. Is it surprising then, that so many become listless and depressed?

This is not new to nurses. We do see it in our patients. Speaking for myself though, because of constant exposure to this, it becomes a part of life, something easy to overlook. I am adding this here because I need to remind myself to step back daily, and see my ‘workplace’ through their eyes. Old eyes that see no purpose in their ‘provisional existence’, and now must call their one tiny room home.

Our time as nurses on the floor may be limited. However, let me encourage not only myself, but those of you interested in pursuing a career in nursing. The patient needs a reason to continue on. Yes they are usually there to see their days out, Our role is to make sure that each of them are able to do it in as much comfort and dignity as we can give them.

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