I talked to Martin Bayne from his new nursing home room at Phoebe Ministries in Bethlehem, Penn., at 2 p.m. EST today (Read the original post here).
The good news is his transition from the hospital to the nursing home went smoothly after a 20 minute ambulance ride and a seamless check-in. Martin’s sister, Susan Dodges, is also his social worker and she was able to call ahead and arrange a private room in the nursing home, probably the only one in the building, Martin said.
Early this morning he met with the nursing home’s father-and-son physician team, as well as several key members of the staff, and they were up to speed on his medications, health requirements and recovery plan.
Martin quizzed them on their practice of person-centered care and knowledge of the culture change movement. Unfortunately, no one on the staff was familiar with culture change — they’d never heard of The Eden Alternative, The Green House Project or Dr. Bill Thomas. The physician said that he was aware that Martin is a long term care activist and writer and that he had read his Wikipedia page.
Martin’s primary concern is regaining mobility. This morning his nurse aide tried to get Martin to use a Hoyer Lift to move from bed to a wheel chair. Martin refused and asked that they help him transition without a lift assist. “I don’t want my mobility to decrease by one iota,” Martin said.
He was told he would have his first physical therapy session this morning. However, he had seen no physical therapist as of 2 p.m. Also, Martin said he pushed the nurse call button to inquire about his PT and no one responded for 4 hours, until his lunch was served. Unable to move his wheelchair he spent the day sitting in his room alone.
Speaking of food, Martin reserved some of his harshest criticism for the cuisine. “The food is absolutely pathetic, just horrendous,” Martin said. Bland, mushy, tasteless, it surpasses the worst stereotypes for hospital-style dining, he said.
I asked Martin how the atmosphere in the nursing home compared to his Assisted Living home at Sacred Heart. Although he is attached to the community at Sacred Heart, he has written extensively about the “atmosphere of ambient despair” that permeates assisted living homes. In the few hours he’s been at Phoebe he said he can tell the atmosphere is much worse.
“I’m convinced over the years people people who work and live in an environment like this just give up,” Martin said. “You can pick up on the vibe from the staff instantly – they don’t care, they’re struggling to get by, going through the motions. There’s a sense of mediocrity, a sense that many people here are living unexamined lives. In part this is why we have nursing homes, why we warehouse people, like we’ve all just given up.”
Martin is not yet able to write on his own so I’ll continue to share his updates. He’s hoping to shoot some video and take pictures when he gets more familiar with his fellow residents and staff. He asked I not contact the nursing home directly yet so he can observe and experience the process objectively.
UPDATE: After four days at Phoebe Martin reports that his opinion of the staff, quality of care and the atmosphere at Phoebe has improved dramatically. Read his latest update here. The transition and day 1 could have been better (and yes, the food is still terrible), but he said genuine engagement from the staff creates a much better atmosphere than he had expected.
Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.org says
I just talked to Martin on the phone after publishing this and got some more positive details. First, he had a lot of positive things to say about Phoebe Ministries and their staff after living there for three days. “The staff here is really dynamic, really concerned on a personal level about the residents,” he said. “I’m finding the experience of living here to be very genuine and authentic.”
Martin said that Phoebe Ministries is over 140 years old and seems genuinely mission-driven. He said he’s going to look into their assisted living homes and would consider moving there instead of his previous AL home.
Before calling me Martin finished 90 minutes of OT/PT and said that he is seeing improvements. He was able to stand long enough to sort a deck of cards into suits for the first time since starting rehab.
Madeleine Kolb says
Kavan, This is such a depressing post but one that you needed to write. Martin Bayne is so perceptive about what’s wrong with this facility and the one before that; he is not asking for much, and he’s not getting even the basics of decent food and care that would help him regain mobility.
Judy K says
Thank you once again Martin, for sharing so much and allowing us to become better educated about this whole aging ordeal. Best wishes for a swift and full recovery.