Annie's Mailbox: Sincerely Want to Know in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Dear Annie: In the past year, we have been told that two members of our family are gay. One of them is transgender. At the time we were told, most of us were speechless. I did say, "I wish you happy, lovely days ahead." But how would everyone want us to respond? What would someone who recently came out as gay or transgender like to hear? We love them, and wish we had the right words.
Can one of your readers help us out? We don't want to say anything inappropriate. -- Sincerely Want to Know in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Dear Wilkes-Barre: We think you handled this exactly right. Your response was supportive without being intrusive. But we also assume that, like anyone else, LGBT people have individual preferences for how others respond to the news. And we are certain they will let us know whether they have any additional suggestions.
Dear Annie: I just had to write and give input regarding your response to "My Brother's Keeper." She said her brother is dying of cancer and is in a nursing home, but they force him to wear diapers and discourage him from getting up to use the bathroom. She wanted her brother to maintain his dignity, but the staff was concerned about his falling. While your response was fine, it did not specifically answer her question, "Is there anything I can do?" The answer to that is a resounding "Yes!"
I am a nurse with almost 40 years of experience. I have worked in nursing homes and hospice, and have taught nursing students and staff about how to respond to such concerns. First, "Keeper" was absolutely correct in bringing this issue to the night nurse. However, when she did not receive a satisfactory response, she should have taken her concern further up to the director of nursing or even the administrator.
All nursing homes are mandated to adhere to certain standards intended to protect the residents. It is NOT acceptable to rely on adult diapers instead of providing each resident with ways to meet their basic care needs every two hours. "Keeper" can also call the 800 number in her state to register a complaint. The number is usually provided in the nursing home admission papers and, by law, should be posted within the facility. If she cannot find it, she should ask.
The administrator or director of nursing is going to want to reach a win-win result, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also if "Keeper" complains to the state, it opens the door for a full-blown survey in which other, possibly worse, things may be discovered, leading to financial implications and the threat of closure.
Please let "My Brother's Keeper," as well as other family members with loved ones in such facilities, know that she is right to be concerned and there is a way in which to address her concern. -- Advocating Nurse Melissa
Dear Melissa: Thank you so much for your comprehensive response. Every care facility should have posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of reporting agencies such as the State Survey Agency, State Licensure Office, State Ombudsman Program, Protection and Advocacy Network and Medicare Fraud Control Unit. We also recommend concerned family members contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman in their area for help.
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.