Editor, The Record:
I have read several articles over the last few weeks in regards to nursing care in this province. I would like to share my story.
I am a young registered nurse (RN) working in a 76-bed long-term care facility. We are funded by Fraser Health, and therefore, our beds are always full. In the recent Ombudsman’s report, the Ministry of Health suggested that care facilities have adequate staff to provide 3.36 hours of direct care per person, in 24 hours. Fraser Health has stated they fund facilities at 2.72 hours per person. The facility I work in, we are currently staffed at 2.53 hours per resident of direct care hours.
What does that mean? Direct care includes any person who touches you or your family member to provide care: RNs, LPNs, care aides, activity aides, physiotherapy, chaplains, etc. However, most are lead to believe this number reflects direct nursing care hours, which it does not. If you look at RN hours alone, we have one RN 24 hours a day for 76 people. That translates into 19 minutes of direct RN care per 24 hours. On my eight-hour night shift, it means I have 6.32 minutes per person for care. That’s it.
If I spend any more time with one person, then I don’t have enough time to spend with one of your family members that shift.
What happens if someone is sick, falls, or is dying? Add three people needing my help in one eight-hour shift, and now I have less than one minute to spend with each of the other 73 people in my care. That is still accounting for doing only the bare minimum for each of those three sick people. What you may not know is that someone falls every night, and a lot of nights I have three or more falls to take care of. There is almost always someone dying, and most nights someone is sick, especially during flu season.
I can not provide the adequate amount of care, nor the quality of care that you all deserve, with staffing levels the way they are currently. If I have more than three or four acutely ill patients during my shift, I can not care for the other 72 effectively. It is not safe. It is not fair to you or your family members. You deserve better.
Safe patient care equals safe staffing. We need more nurses now. Support B.C. nurses in their fight for you.