Not long ago I read a facebook post that likened prisoners to residents in nursing homes. In fact it stated that prisoners were treated better than nursing home residents. I have to admit, I physically recoiled when I read that statement. I have actually worked in a prison, filled with incarcerated adult males and I currently volunteer in a nursing home. To equate one with the other, when it comes to CARE-taking is, I believe, inaccurate and unfair.
I am not talking about funding, or resources, I don’t want to get into that debate; but this post was simply saying that prisoners were cared for better than those in nursing homes. Really? What are the metrics behind that statement? How many nursing homes or prison’s, for that matter had the writer been in? What is their definition of care?
I am in a nursing home weekly. I know the nurses, the aids, the activity coordinators, the receptionists, the cooks and the housekeepers. I have watched them clean up rooms, serve food, hold hands, play bingo, do nails, serve a Pepsi or a cup tea, locate a favorite CD or bring their puppies and new babies in on a day off. This in addition to also taking care of the residents health needs; no small task when we realize that most people don’t enter a nursing home due overwhelming “wellness”.
I have watched nursing home caregivers provide a space for memorial services, serve the lunch after the memorial (because that is what we do in Minnesota) and I have seen them lead the memorial service when there was no one else to do it.
I have also seen them cry. Cry when a resident dies; cry while hugging a family member. Yes, even cry along with the volunteer dog lady the first time she experienced the death of one the residents she visited.
Frankly that wasn’t my experience at the prison. Three meals and a cot, isn’t the same thing at all. Now I am not saying that the people who work in prisons don’t care. I certainly did. But it is different kind of caring and a different kind of caretaking. And by comparing the two you belittle the nursing home professionals, the family members and the residents. A prison is where you stay, because you did something wrong. A Senior Living Facility is home.