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Nursing home horrors, and why students will never be the same again


More pointless frivolity as Beyond the Bedpan goes where proper journalists fear to tread. This week, why old folk are right to be suspicious of nursing homes, and how the RCN pooped the student nurse party

The decision to put one’s beloved parents/grandparents in a nursing home is never easy. But for many, it’s the inevitable solution as ageing relatives require ever-increasing levels of care.

Picture the scene: you’re showing your frail and nervous mother around her prospective new home, admiring the facilities and trying to convince her and yourself that everything is going to be just fine. The garden looks beautiful, the food nutritious and the other residents friendly and cheerful. Her room is cosy and tasteful, and her roommate is… Myra Hindley.

That’s the (grossly exaggerated) scenario facing nursing home residents in Illinois, US, where the authorities have resorted to housing mentally ill patients - including those recently released from jail - with its senior citizens. The state currently has over 3,000 convicted felons residing in its nursing homes, including 82 murderers, 179 sex offenders and 185 armed robbers. So much for growing old peacefully.

Party poopers

Students, those precocious scamps that represent the future of this great nation, are often up to no good. Heady with the thrill of being away from home for the first time, and young enough to think they can change the world, isn’t it fair that they be allowed to engage in the traditional high jinx of freshers week?

The RCN, who are always good for a laugh, think not. Their guidance for student nurses is unequivocal in it’s warning against the perils of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, although they don’t specifically use those terms. A RCN spokesperson went further: “We want student nurses and midwives to enjoy themselves but they need to remember that they do have a lot more responsibility than many other people heading off to university… they need to uphold the reputation of the profession in their personal lives as well.”

One can only assume that this rules out traditional freshers week activities like riding through town in a supermarket trolley while wearing a traffic cone ‘hat’ and drinking from a three-litre bottle of Scrumpy Jack. How are the poor young things supposed to relax?


Readers' comments (14)

  • Maybe the headline was a ever so slightly insensitive, but there is plenty of serious news and clinical stuff on this website and you don't have to read beyond the bedpan if you don't like it. Personally, it made me giggle, and that can never be a bad thing. We all need a laugh sometimes!

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  • MillerT

    I'm slightly concerned that readers are missing the obvious hints inherit in this opinion piece, namely a) it's a blog, and b) its Python-eseque title Beyond the Bedpan.

    Personally not only was I amused by this column, but also enlightened - I've got some elderly relatives I might look to house specifically in this Illinois care home.

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  • booze and loss of self-respect is fun, is it?

    sorry, i failed to see any punch lines in any of the above...

    detox nurse

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  • My concerns lie not in the content of the articles, but in supposedly educated, intelligent, Registered Nurses who seem unable to distinguish between tongue-in-cheek journalism and serious commentary. Nurses who put forward fierce, if not robust, opposition to educated (rather than technically-trained) nurses and feel that forty year-old slapstick comedy really influences public opinion of modern healthcare practice.

    Sadly, and worryingly, they seem to be the same nurses who fail to see the value of evidence-based practice. They do not appearto understand that research and nursing practice are not mutually exclusive activities.

    Whilst bemoaning pre-registration education and training becoming a PARTNERSHIP between universities and the health sector (it has never been university-based) they fail to recognise the role that they play as practitioners and mentors in educating and supporting students during their practice placements (which amounts to half of the total training time). If they took the time to read the research they seem to value so little, they might begin to understand that it is not the amount of time spent in practice that has the biggest impact on fitness to practice, but how that time is structured and used. To do so may force them to realise the responsibilities they have themselves in preparing and supporting the future nursing workforce.

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