End of the Line
Inside Canada's Nursing Homes

Bohuslawsky, Maria
Publisher:  James Lorimer & Company, Canada
Year Published:  1989  
Pages:  238pp   Price:  16.95   ISBN:  ISBN 1-55028-290-5
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX4135

An account of the grim reality of life in nursing homes. Sketches of nursing-home residents, their families, and nursing-home staff, reveal a generation suffering neglect and abuse, stripped of self-respect, confined to dangerous, dirty, depressing and de-personalized institutions.


Abstract:  End of the Line is a well-written, emotionally taxing account of the grim reality of life in nursing homes. Sketches of nursing-home residents, their families, and nursing-home staff, reveal a generation suffering neglect and abuse, stripped of self-respect, confined to "dangerous, dirty, depressing and de-personalized" nursing homes.

A good example of the abuse in the system is the misadministration of medication. Over-rushed and understaffed, the nurses will use medication -- without the consent of a physician -- to subdue active residents "`instead of holding their hands for a few minutes, or talking with them.` "Nurses create `elderly zombies who no longer have a personality of their own'. What's more, residents will occasionally be given the wrong medicine, a "med error": "Med errors probably happen every day. Documented med errors happen four of five times a week. That's when a nurse has actually gone and said, `I gave this in error."' As a result, some people may get drugs that are contra-indicated, epileptics may not get their anti-seizure medicine, and as one nurse admits, "`I know lots of times when people don't get their antibiotics when they have an infection."'

Bohuslawsky, the journalist-author currently with the Ottawa Citizen, investigates all angles of the issue, profiling the residents, reporting on the profit-seekers who operate the homes, and visiting the dedicated, caring people who are trying to improve the system. The book ends with a positive chapter suggesting possible alternatives to institutionalization.

[Abstract by Ulli Diemer]