Potty Talk at the Dinner Table

“I had a good BM this morning. Even they said it was good.”

That’s good news, Mom.

“Every time I do something, they write it down. I don’t know what they’re studying.”

Just another suppertime conversation at the nursing home.

No Sense of Urgency at the Nursing Home or Dogs Are More Fun Than Old People

When I get old, I hope someone leaves me at the kennel instead of a nursing home. I think I’ll get better care.

Nearly every day I turn on the news and someone had rescued a bunch of neglected dogs and lots of people come forward to feed them and nurse them back to good health. If there’s a flood, a power outage, a hurricane, an economic crisis — big pleas go out for help to take care of the misplaced pets.

Friday night,  I go to mom’s nursing home and they are serving peanut butter. Hey –don’t you guys know the big recall of peanut butter included shipments to nursing homes? What reassurance do we have that the kitchen has checked out the source? My mom’s “meal preference” says “no chicken.” Yet she was given a chicken sandwich on Thursday night.

At the kennel, dogs are walked and played with (for an extra fee), fed, oooed and aawed over.

I bet the pet food with peanut butter has been pitched at the kennel.

At the nursing home, patients are talked at:

“How’s your dinner?”

“What?”

“Good, I’m glad  you liked it.”

Mom can’t pull chicken off the bone when you serve the drummies. It’s not that she doesn’t like chicken. But  you’re not listening anyway — as you serve her chicken soup, chicken sandwiches, etc.

“Your mom keeps crying. We need to do something about her meds.”

Yea…like get ’em down her throat. Thursday nite, they plopped out on the floor. Friday — I wheeled her down to your station and showed you she had a full mouth of meds sitting on her tongue. I got ’em down her throat. ICE CREAM works better than apple sauce. It also takes more than one spoonful. You’re probably not supposed to be crushing all of those meds in the first place. Does anybody read the warnings?

Last night after dinner Mrs. G. is sitting in her room and she tells me she has a new problem.  She just got out of the hospital last week. She  hasn’t had her oxygen all day. Someone’s supposed to come. soon.  I guess her daughter was celebrating Valentine’s Day. She came in the afternoon and the flower arrangement was lovely. She usually comes after dinner. I see the aide and ask about the oxygen. “The nurse is going to take care of that.”

Mrs. G said her eyes are blurry. Eyes need oxygen. It’s even more important as you age. I go home wondering about the connection. I look it up this morning on the Internet. What kind of nurses are these? Who’s training them? Who cares about the elderly?

Give me the life of a dog. It’s gotta be better than this.

Neighborhood Ice Cream Trucks in February?

It’s an overcast midwestern winter day, the temperature is in the 40s, and I can hear some funky music outside. What? Is that the ice cream truck?

I look outside and sure enough an ice cream van is slowing driving up the street playing that little melody that is supposed to draw the attention of all of the little kiddies within earshot.

The economy must be pretty bad if the ice cream man is out looking for clients in winter. Heck, just 3 days ago, the temperature was in the 20s – probably colder than his frozen treats – and my front yard was still covered in snow.

Weird.

Peanut Butter Terrorism

What are we up to– 400 plus products recalled because one greedy business owner looked the other way.

We hear a lot about how the government needs to stay out of the business of doing business. Well this is a perfect example of exactly why government interference is needed in the private sector. People are sick, others are dead – because one company chose to ignore the possibility of salmonella contamination.

What about the ripple effect to the customers of Peanut Corporation of America? And the peanut industry as a whole?

Peanut butter was a big staple in my diet.

Peanut butter on a toasted whole wheat bagel for breakfast.

Peanut butter crackers as a mid-morning snack or on a hike.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or an occasionally dinner.

Peanut butter cups – both on their  own and the mini ones in ice cream.

I bet this stupid company flew the American flag on the holidays, (they added “America” to their name), gave lip service to how much they cared about their employees (I assume they are now out of work) and talked about how wonderful they were as a contributor to the economy, the community, blah, blah, blah.

Keep this in mind. All terrorist don’t look alike. They can high-jack a whole industry when they exhibit greed in favor of a true “corporate conscious.”

Does Your Marketing – and Branding – Suck?

We hear a lot about marketing, branding, blah, blah, blah. As the economy continues to toughen up – small businesses will have to work even harder to attract and retain clients.

Branding is more than just slapping a pretty logo on your product or brochures — then sitting back waiting for customers to beat down your door. Branding is about EVERYTHING you do.

A year ago, as my mother’s health continued to decline, I attended a “senior fair” sponsored by a law office specializing in estate planning. Several vendors had tables and there were a variety of speakers on a wide range of subjects. One of the speakers was from a company offering home health care services at my mother’s senior apartment building. The speaker made some interesting comments, and after she left the podium, I asked if she would be available for questions after the next speaker finished. “Yes, we have a table.”

Another 30 or 45 minutes passed before the other speaker finished, then I went searching for her table and asked the organizers to help me locate her. I guess the opportunity to finish work early on a Friday afternoon was just too big a temptation as she had closed up shop before the event had concluded.

Fast forward to the fall. Since her company was the most highly recommended of the two company’s located at my mom’s apartment building, we had contracted with them to provided morning and evening assistance with dressing and medicine administration.

My mother had a stroke in September, moved to one nursing home and then another in October. Cash flow was a bit of a problem, but I did send a small payment in  October and the balance due in November. The company did not send any statements, make a phone call, etc. –the payments were sent because we knew the money was owed.

Yesterday I received a second copy of the September invoice — not a statement. Attached was a sticky note with a handwritten message that the company had received payments, but we still owed money. The last sentence read “My accountant advised me this would be the last statement sent for this invoice before going to Collections.” The note was not signed.

The  invoice was the type that comes right out of Word, so it has a cookie cutter look to it. That’s fine for a small business. But nobody bothered to make the effort to look professional and turn it into a statement showing the monies received — they just stuck a blue sticky note on it.

Here is my response to the company:

I have received an invoice for  my mother.  There is no email on the invoice, so I am using this one.

Your company is looking for an additional $401.

As you are well aware, Mrs. Mom did not receive services for the full month of September.

According to my records,  your company has been paid  in full for August (including the increase in package) and for all of the days she lived at the apartment building in September up to and including the day of her departure.

The checks sent in October and November were sent not in response to any invoice — but because we knew we had received services and wanted to pay my mother’s account in full for all services ordered and received.Your current invoice clearly shows it was your policy prior to November 1, 2008, for clients to receive refunds when they did not receive services.

FYI – while she was there, some of the services we contracted  for were not performed. For example, I posted a reminder on the bathroom mirror and complained to your staff several times that I had frequently found nasty dirty denture water still sitting in her denture cup at the end of the day — even though all I requested was that it be dumped and rinsed out for just a second or so every morning. Not only that, I counted the denture tablets and they were not being used — no surprise since the same nasty water was still there. Made me wonder if they removed her dentures at all.

Also, there were many nites when I dressed Mom — with no expectation that there would be a refund — although your staff indicated there would be. We did not ask or expect one.

Generally, your employees were very nice and caring.

Instead of chasing ambulances to the hospital seeking additional income for new services — I would suggest you contact your client’s families for feedback while the person is still at the apartment to see if all services are being performed adequately.

In my opinion, the time to conduct your company’s marketing (such as customer satisfaction calls) is when your client is living at the apartment –not when you see an opportunity to make more money when a crisis has occurred. Your visits to see my mom at the hospital came across to me as a sales pitch and it really felt quite inappropriate.

Tell that to your accountant.

(editor’s note – I have removed proper names to protect my mother’s privacy.)