by P Stevenson
The amount of energy, budget, and time commitment whilst completing the Bachelor of Nursing has not ended in turmoil or tragedy for my situation given I am employed as a bus operator. I thought I should point that out as when attending many nursing tutorial sessions some comments were made that not all nursing students will gain employment as a Registered Nurses.
I first ventured into nursing (Aged Care) as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) in April 2002 which I completed the Certificate 3 in Aged Care by late 2003. I spent around 14 years nursing in aged care which consisted of full-time, part-time, and casual working hours whilst completing my nursing degree.
From time to time aged care gets a mention in the mainstream media which it did today on the Today Show on the Nine Network. The presenter of the Today Show was discussing whether nursing ratios would improve the situation in aged care around Australia with the Minister for Ageing. The interview was rather short and nothing much came from it which seems to be the case for most media sessions relating to aged care.
In my experience, aged care nursing is unpredictable on most days especially in high care wards where providing nursing care can differ from day to day. It is not like attending to mechanical needs of an old car where you can service something that needs attention when the budget allows you to. For example, my 1964 Chrysler Valiant Sedan (AP5) had an unfortunate electrical short in the left side indicator switch. Due to the age of the vehicle I could not replace the faulty wiring which meant I had to install a toggle switch until I could find the part and replace it. With aged care people you must apply nursing care to meet their needs at the time of providing care.
Here is an example from my experience…Mrs Fluropen in her eighties complains she has soiled her pad after we had only showered her and dressed her just in the last hour. We still have five more residents to attend to that have not been seen to yet. Available nurses to assist is zero given we work in aged care and not a mainstream hospital. The RN’s are busy with their medication rounds and associated medical interventions, which means the AIN’s have to deal with Mrs Fluropen situation. We kindly suggest to Mrs Fluropen that we will come back shortly to assist her, but she becomes agitated and demands to be changed now. So, we decide to quickly assist Mrs Furopen to ease her agitation. Unfortunately, due the medications Mrs Fluropen receives has made her faeces loose therefore requiring her to be washed as the faeces has invaded her vaginal areas and buttock.
The above is a classic example of where time can be lost on one resident that is not catered for in the normality of nursing care. Then once you attend to the remaining residents in some cases their family members have arrived who then criticise you at your lack of ability in caring for their loved ones. As normal you just have to suck it up and get on with it.
After graduating with the Bachelor of Nursing in 2014 I was offered an aged care grad program, but I declined after giving it some consideration.
Much has to change in aged care to really improve how care is provided without cutting back on resources. There are a lot of experts who are happy to share their opinions and ideas but would stumble if they had to endure what aged care nurses do hour by hour 24/7 on limited incomes.
So, I have progressed to Bus Operator and have achieved qualifications in that field of work. I am now licenced to drive heavy rigid vehicles such as artic buses, and steer-tag buses anywhere in Australia. I am earning just as much as an RN or more so from that aspect I am quite happy in my new role as a bus operator. My role as an ex-nurse has not be in vain as even in bus driving there are times where I can use my past nursing experience towards various passengers whether they be elderly, disabled, or have hearing or vision impairments.