Elder care debate raised in wake of Calif. woman's death

Published On: Mar 05 2013 06:55:10 PM PST
CPR
SPOKANE, Wash. -

A shocking 9-1-1 call where a dispatcher pleaded with a nursing home staffer to perform CPR on a dying elderly woman has sparked a vigorous debate at elder care across the country.

Last Tuesday 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed in the dining room at Glenwood Gardens, a retirement center and nursing home in Bakersfield, California.

The 911 dispatcher tried to give instructions to the caller about how to perform CPR but a nurse at the facility explained it is against facility policy for staff to do that. The dispatcher pleaded with the nurse, repeatedly asking if there was anyone who would perform CPR if the nurse would not.

Bayless was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Glenwood Gardens stands by its decision and the nurse will not be charged with anything.

This story has sparked conversation across the nation and is making people wonder how anybody could just sit by and do nothing while someone is dying. The reality is that many residential and assisted living homes have different polices and follow different rules, and it's those rules you should know before placing a loved one in someone else's care.

Visit assisted living homes throughout Washington and you might find several different policies when it comes to giving CPR to dying residents.

"A lot of people have put it in the policy that it is not mandatory to give it. Although all care givers are made to have it," Jacq Mabayoje with Comprehensive Living Solutions said. She has worked in assisted living for 30 years.

"We have always been told you must give CPR first aid unless they have a DNR."

A DNR -- or 'Do Not Resuscitate' -- order would keep the holder from being revived, but now even a CPR might not be the only thing keeping a dying resident from chest compressions.

"About a year ago they've come out that now a lot of the places you work, you don't have to give it, you just have to call 911," Mabayoje said.

Assisted living homes fall under state regulations but each facility's policies may differ; it's important to check what those polices are and file a DNR when checking a loved one in, or just the opposite as the case may be.

"You can tell them that you want resuscitation and it will be in your charts to resuscitate," Mabayoje said.

Residential living homes don't offer medical treatment but a representative from Holiday Retirement, which manages a retirement home in Spokane, said they wouldn't prevent their employees from following direction from emergency service personnel.

In the case of Lorraine Bayless, it may just boil down to doing what you're told and doing what you think is right..

"She was doing exactly what here facility protocol says to do and it's exactly within the means of the law," Mabayoje said.

In Washington State, DSHS has encouraged all assisted living centers to perform CPR.