It’s funny how certain aspects of care are 24/7 and others are not.
I should probably explain that.
For example, obtaining medications after-hours in a long-term care home can be a limited endeavour simply because pharmacies aren’t always open. Fair enough… even though nursing staff are working and residents’ needs change independently of the time and day of the week. The harsh reality of the front line is that sometimes you just have to make do until the rest of the world wakes up. That’s no slight – just the nature of it; not everything is 24/7 – even when you have to be.
Another External Service
Another ancillary service that frequents a home (on a not infrequent basis, either) are the friendly funeral home staff. And, for some reason, they are always the friendliest people you will encounter – quiet, patient and always respectful.
I recently worked when we had two residents pass (different units, different floors – no commonalities or attributing outbreak to link them – simply by chance) within an eight-hour period. That’s how it goes at times; no deaths for months and then a handful in quick succession.
My Observations About The Distribution of The Occurrence of Deaths.
Interestingly, and speaking only out of anecdotal experience, the trends I tend to see around the timing of deaths in a group facility are as follows:
- People tend to hang on until after Christmas to pass;
- People tend to hang on to see their children get married (or, insert other major family milestones), and/or;
- If one member of a long-married couple passes, the other member will pass quite quickly thereafter (even if they were in considerably better health; their decline tends to be astonishingly rapid).
And so it came to pass (pardon the pun) that we had two deaths in a day. As a matter of protocol, after all the requisite documentation, communications, etc., the family’s funeral home of choice is notified to come and collect the body. Today, that was multiplied by two.
Rarely does it fall to the same funeral home to come twice in a row… but as luck would have it, on this day, they did.
Here’s a question for you
Skill testing question: was this going to make matters easier/more streamlined or more difficult?
Naturally, it stands to reason, the funeral home would swing by for a 2-for-1 pass and grab both bodies at once. Unfortunately, this opportunity to simplify the logistics simply wasn’t going to materialize.
First, one of the families wasn’t as pre-prepared as they could have been. Consequently, there was a considerable delay until they could, as a group, confirm their decision. Second, there wasn’t clarity on if any individual members of the family wanted to visit and see their loved one before they were brought to the funeral home.
Ultimately, this staggering of ‘readiness’ resulted in the funeral home having to make two trips (because they had other stops to make, and services to hold, too).
And because nothing is simple, this added complication then resulted in an additional element of confusion. To answer the aforementioned skill-testing question, it only made things more difficult.
To say that the wrong person was almost taken first would be an understatement. To say that the wrong person almost didn’t have an honour guard (a quiet moment of reflection before leaving the home for the last time) would be an understatement. To say that the honour guard that did happen almost mentioned the wrong person’s name, would be an understatement.
… but everything fell into place properly in the end and we just about got away with it (despite the ongoing call bells, sick calls, resident falls and covid screening that had to keep going).
It might sound dysfunctional but, in real life, even the easy stuff can be challenging.