by Thomas Edward Gass, Bruce C. Vladeck
Candid Reflections of a Nursing Home Aide
reviews from Amazon
From Publishers Weekly
This honest and heartfelt book is a firsthand account of the reality of life in a nursing home. Gass, who spent five years in a Catholic seminary, ran a halfway house and was a teacher, returned to the U.S. after many years in Asia to care for his dying mother. That experience led him to work as a poorly paid aide in a long-term care facility in the Midwest. In a calm, intelligent and matter-of-fact style, Gass describes his often unpleasant daily routines. He cleans, feeds and dresses the patients; tries to converse with them, although they are often senile; and mostly, attempts to preserve their dignity. Perhaps Gass's most important observation is how uncomfortable everyone is around the home's residents—the staff, the relatives and the visitors. To combat that, he tries to do something to engage them: "Face to face, up close and personal, I learn to focus my full attention in flashes. One moment at a time, out comes my inner child. When I happen to touch residents softly or treat them affectionately, something may melt within and they become temporarily free of these depressing walls...." In the epilogue, Gass offers specific suggestions to reform nursing homes. He proposes having pets for the patients and letting children interact with older people more regularly. While this volume's depressing subject may be off-putting to some people, the book should be required reading for health care professionals and others in the medical field.
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A candid and compassionate story......., August 22, 2005
At 189 pages, the book does a wonderful job of telling the story of a CNA who goes to work in a nursing home in the Midwest after the death of his mother. He wants to do meaningful work that would gain depth to his character. He is not the typical aide, having spent years working and learning in a variety of areas. His past experiences and education allow him to write about the job, the nursing home, his colleagues and the residents with beautiful insight and compassion. These words in his Epilogue have stuck with me. "Few of us are prepared for what happens. First we grow up and get stronger by the day. Then one day the process reverses. At first we deny and resist, but eventually we all surrender."
Gass has some wonderful insights for people working in the LTC industry and for those of us who will one day be admitted.
A male prospective on mostly women treated by mostly women, March 17 2005
3/17/05 Mr Gass's book probably will be a great boon to educational institutions as well as employment recruiters in raising the bar financially so that more men will want to go into the non-therapy,non-physican side of health care...His book emphasis the physical challenges of the job, the "click(klatch)" environment that takes place more often than not when more than a couple of women are "in community anywhere" (it starts very young),girls in clicks,boys on teams....);it raises questions about (?) diets (those who have freedoms to have their other snacks or in cases where previous mealtrays aren't removed fast enough and those who forgot you can't swallow chicken bones etc require instinctive rescue by the health care providers;(?)acceptance of the eccentric,aggressive,annoying etc that only lunacy,dementia and Alzheimer's as illnesses are also the only calming balm for those who are there because before being admitted they were the only eccentric in their environment and "Voila", they're seeing "much "Madder". His Pg 173 emphasis the need of ministers to sermonize(which happened in the case of him sermonized to the resident Walter in Rm 301 who was dead, but whose eye lids were not closed and the oxygen line was still tucked under his nose causing a mechanical rattle).Gass showed in that chapter ("Back On Days") as well that you can have 6 persons scheduled to work and 5 call in sick which means you then have to proceed to implore those who are already doing more than "maximum" overtime to burn themselves out a little more by coming in on a day off..Gass does not mention that he, himself ever took the luxury of taking a "sick day" to treat his own overwhelmed physical,mental & emotional system.
Touching Portrait of Reality, April 29, 2004
Mr. Gass has truly captured the emotional hardship present within the American nursing home. A candid, unbiased look at the system which provides us with our eventual destination, "Nobody's Home" speaks to the mind as well as the spirit. Never have I been so moved by one man's everyday experiences.