What Are Nursing Homes? Is Working In One A Cheap And Menial Job?
By by Sakala Jacob
I was reading one of the articles in one of the tabloids in our Zambian papers after the recent President’s visit to UK which allude to the Zambians in attendance at the meeting to have come from Nursing Home jobs in a derogatory manner.This prompted me to shade some light on what a Nursing Home is and what is involved.
In the developed world,the UN employment rate is very small they are highly industrialized to an extent that even the 18 year olds are absorbed in the job sector.Because of the advance in medicine and good economies the life expectancy is very high for example UK -80.It is not uncommon to see 90 year olds walking the streets and going about life.People are living way into the 100s.Will not talk about our life expectancy.
Because of high industrialization,whilst we are able to look after our elderly for reasons already explained it is not always possible for the elderly to be looked after in their own homes in the developed world.They are prone to be left alone incur falls,dehydrate as they may not drink or cook for themselves etc.Reluctantly the families take them into Nursing Homes to be looked after so that they can be able to go about lives with the peace of mind that their Grand parent or father is being looked after by trained and qualified people.
Regularly they come in to check on them and spend time with them.They love their people just as much as we do.Its something they do not enjoy doing.Do we know were our senior citizens are in Zambia and under what conditions they live in?who regulates there care?do we have a prominent social services for the elderly?thus the bigger picture.
The biggest problem in the health sector today in the developed world is care for the elderly as they live longer.The longer they live the more ailments they incur.Dementia or mental illness being the commonest.The more medication they take the more Nurses they will need the more Carers.
The Nursing Home is therefore a well designed home for people who could as well be young e.g the disabled people whose needs cannot be cared for at home or the elderly who may have other ailments that entail 24 hours care.I have worked for 15 year old disabled people in a nursing home in England.Don’t we have Disables people in Zambia?how do we look after them?another Bigger Picture.
A Nursing Home has en-suite rooms for occupants,clean environment.Medical equipment that are to a standard of a clinic or hospital for managing the residents.it’s not a dumping place as it is insinuated.
Maybe because we do not grow old in Zambia old age is often ensnared at and those that care after the elderly are looked down upon.Time catches up with all,in a flush of the pan we grow old and we depend on other people to look after us and this is what it is.To mock anybody working in a Nursing Home looking after the elderly is missing the tangent and being cheap to the lowest core. We all do have our Grand parents our own fathers and mothers,we need to respect and set a good example to the young ones.For tomorrow our turn comes.
Reminds me of an old adage of a man who had a son 12 years old and kept his 90 year old Father.Every day the man quarreled with his wife who complained of how dirty the old man her in-law was,mucus from his nostrils,defecating and urinating in his pants etc making his house smell.The wife gave the man an ultimatum to chose between him and his 90 year old father.
The man decided to do away with his father,he got a wheelbarrow put the old man on it and asked his son to escort him to the River which was crocodile infested.He took the man there and tipped him into the river.After he had done that he said now we will have peace in the House he is gone no more arguments no more bad smells.The Son agreed with him but asked him just one more favor -to keep the wheelbarrow so that when he grows old too he can tip him in the same river.
The Nursing Home often employs a Nurse and a Health Care Assistant.The Nurse gives medication to the residents and sometimes a Health Care Assistant does as well if trained.Washing and cleaning someone vulnerable is a responsibility we all undertake even in our own homes,for a Nurse thus the reality thus part of the job we gladly do and swore to do even in Zambia.Nursing does not change just because it’s being practiced in England or Zealand,it has never been a white color job and will never be.Hence sticking our hands in the mud is part of the game whether on planet Mars or Pluto.
Nurses and Carers are respectable people in the western world who cannot be ensnared at by any ignoramus.The community is well vested in what they do even if they do not attract a footballers wage.Their job is very very important.
A Nurse in England earns a minimum wage of ¬£12 per hour whether in a Nursing Home or Hospital whilst could even go up to ¬£50 or ¬£150 per hour on Agency or locum shift depending on day of the month,area of work etc.
A Health care assistant earns minimum of ¬£6.50 per hour but could earn up to ¬£15 per hour on Agency or locum.Varying Nurses with varying experiences and specializations are on varying salary scale.Would however not surprise me that they are Nurses who earn as much as ¬£70,000 per annul.Now I know this is pocket money for sweets for a lot of people back home with farms and loads of building investments to show off for,but the point is these are British,Australian,Canadian or wherever developed country tax payers whose money is sent back to our country Zambia in the form of aid or donor funds and goes to enrich a few people’s pockets in the form of all manner of corruption.
Seminars,workshops,programmes and projects etc, working in a Nursing Home does not mean one is poor or impoverished?
Its a misconception which needs to be cleared.My Sister visiting me from home was of the view that only Zambians and other foreigners do these jobs,some form of slavery??another myth,the owners of the country do these jobs too and they are in the majority and the pattern of shifts and work hours are the same.What I can get out of this is that as Zambians we are not so entrenched into hard work,we are quick money orientated.We need a cultural re-orientation,to respect work no matter what type of work it is.
A Kamalasha (man who burns charcoal) deserves respect it’s a job as well.
The bulk of Zambian nurses practicing in UK or other developed countries have got dealings with Nursing Homes including myself writing the article.My most fulfilling role as a Nurse in my 21 years of nursing has been caring for the elderly,they are such a wonderful lot.The level of appreciation you get from caring for the elderly is so addictive.I work in hospitals in the United Kingdom and In Nursing Homes and I do not find any of the two inferior to the other.The care staff as well do an insurmountable job.The amount of ignorance is what boggles my mind and the perspective of what a job should be.Just as the old adage goes the richest place is the Grave yard as thus were a lot of unfinished plans lie;the Nursing Home for the elderly is the other.
It is always important to discuss the core issues of a subject matter without being derogatory.The developed world respects any job done by anybody.It is a world were a plumber gets married to a medical Doctor.Were a man who unblocks sewer pipes comes in a Mercedes Benz to work.A security guard is respected.If we respect every job in Zambia some of these retrogressive utterances will phase out of our mouths and we will focus on what builds the country.
I remember in 2001 Doctors were loaded on a truck in Lusaka and locked up in cells for striking and requesting for an increased supply in Medical and surgical supplies today most of those Doctors are abroad they left.Were they are they are treated like celebrities.Some people who are in Government today were in Government then when that was happening and a more re-conciliatory approach and apologetic approach would be expected in dealing with the Diaspora issues.Being derogatory does not help:and as PK Chishala sung “Ichalo lifupa bakolokotakofye bwasha.”We seem stuck in the past approach to issuea who loses out?not the people we target but the vulnerable people.
The world is like a bone enjoyed after a meal you cannot swallow a bone but only pick out the meat and the sinews,the bone is left and true we will all leave the bone in what state God knows.
Finally Dual Citizenship.This is a subject that all those who are into the future must support and those in the past may not support.My Dad who is 78 now for obvious reasons and obvious fears due to obvious old school of thought does not support.Modernity entails to allow dual citizenship.No country is an island Developed countries of the world entice the best skilled to be it’s citizens.We must as a nation retain the citizenry of our skilled citizens and entice the best to our country that will spur the nation forward.Examples are there for all to see:Ghana,Kenya,Brazil,USA,UK etc these nations are doing well.
Migration has taken place all over the world British people are in Australia and vice verse and so on and so forth.Even in the Biblical time-Abraham times people migrated-with Gods seal upon them.Lets not criminalize migration by being narrow minded.If I cannot control those in my household from leaving my little village in Kalabo going for greener pasture in Lusaka what more the Nation?
People will always migrate just as in our homes our children will choose to go and live with an Uncle.The best we can do is to thank the generous uncle for looking after our children and still insist they are still our children.
Written by Sakala Jacob
Registered Nurse Working in the United Kingdom.