Until you've walked in a nurse's shoes you don't have a right to trash nurses, says Betty Lowis.
Until you've walked in a nurse's shoes you don't have a right to trash nurses, says Betty Lowis.

OPINION: You have no idea what nurses go through

READERS might say I should keep my nose out of this subject, but I can't keep silent any longer about the "nurse bashing” that seems to be going on.

When I was a girl, there was a saying, "nurses are born not made”.

Over the years that has proven to be true.

Those nurses who belt up vulnerable old people in nursing homes should not have chosen the nursing profession.

I have encountered nice and not so nice nurses in my lifetime when in hospital.

It takes a very special person to nurse in aged care, especially the dementia wing where some residents are too violent to live at home any more.

A camera in nursing home rooms is a good idea.

Besides the despicable behaviour of some nurses it will also show another side to nursing that the public seldom sees or hears about.

My column is dedicated to those wonderful nurses.

Nursing is a very stressful profession because it involves people's lives.

Nurses have to work back-to-back shifts sometimes.

They suffer swollen, sore feet from hardly ever being able to sit down, and some have backache and back problems.

As for a meal, forget that, because between resident care there is all that paperwork to do and always a doctor with whom to do rounds.

They seldom get off duty on time as something always seems to happen as they are about to go home.

Cameras in residents' rooms at nursing homes will also show how nurses are sometimes treated by residents when administering treatment.

They are often scratched, bitten and hit.

Punched in the face by male residents, as well.

This kind of behaviour is all part of their day, but they accept it all without complaint.

The majority of nurses in nursing homes everywhere do a wonderful job of taking care of their residents.

Until 18 months ago, I volunteered at Pioneer Lodge and Gardens for almost 12 years and as a visitor before that, so I can only remark on what I have seen during those years.

I always found the home to be clean and airy.

Despite the fact nurses were so busy, they still had a friendly "Hello Betty” and nice things to say to their residents.

Over the years, it was a pleasure to work with the diversional therapists Patty, Karen, Mara and Denese.

Office staff were nice to me - as were the domestics.

It became my second home.

I grew attached to many of the oldies, so much so that when one I loved died I went to their funeral.

After going to three funerals in one week, I had to stop because I had become tearful and depressed.

In all those years I heard only three nasty remarks made to residents and only one came from a nurse.

I have seen the residents wheeled into the activities room freshly bathed, hair combed and never have I seen anyone without a clean dressing on wounds.

Sometimes a resident can soil him/herself, be cleaned up and then do it all over again, just before the family members arrive.

They see the condition their loved one is in and assume they are being neglected.

Then, when a virus hits a nursing home it goes into lockdown.

How many of us enjoy working in an environment where we would be up to our elbows in vomit and diarrhoea, all through a shift and even longer.

Go home only to go back for more of the same next shift, unless they also succumb to the virus.

To top it all off, nurses these days have to be university trained and not earn as you learn as in the old days.

By the time those nurses graduated they had covered all forms of nursing, even having to attend autopsies.

Some uni students have no other option if they want to go into nursing than to take out a government HECS loan.

These loans are usually in the thousands and as soon as the students graduate and start earning the government has to be paid back, plus they are slugged hefty income tax.

It can take years to pay off.

That does not leave them with much money to pay rent and other expenses.

Yet, that is the price they pay to become a nurse and most think it is worth it.

That is because they are caring, compassionate and very special people.