So I am at the end of my 10 day stint of visiting Dad in the care home. What an eye opener it was too. Its fair to say those who do work hard in these places are total Angels. Just such a shame there aren’t ever enough of them.
I wanted to view the situation as though Dad was on a ‘holiday’ but sadly I was unable to get that vibe at all. His room was adequate, not huge but comfortable enough. I ensured he had a visit daily and only missed one day myself. I wandered into his room all chirpy and laden with his paper and more sweeties but had spent a good few minutes deep breathing in the car before I could go in. You see I don’t like the place. Oh don’t get me wrong , it has the most beautiful lounges, stunning views over the sea and the cliffs…and all the promise of somewhere posing as a top class Hotel. Its not though is it. Its quiet walls whisper sadness as I wander the hallways searching for someone ….anyone…to help my dad in whatever predicament I find him in. I walk past a man in a chair ,mouth open, eyes dull and hes moaning as I pass. Not to me, but to life. Where is the quality of life there? One particularly sorrowful occasion reduced me to silent tears or frustration at the utter unfairness of it all. I arrived mid morning to find he was desperate to be showered and dressed. He had buzzed to tell them he needed ‘dressing’. It was ignored. He had been delivered his breakfast and accepted that he had to eat it in this condition. When I arrived he said nothing apart from ‘Can you get me up?’ I said I couldn’t because if we fell we were both in trouble ‘ I wet to find someone to help. Could I? Could I hell…no one on two floors out of three . I feel I know every inch , every lounge, every view, every corner of this beautiful sprawling place as I have spent many minutes of my visits hunting down the staff!? Not their fault , I tell myself. Eventually I spend at least 15 minutes in each lounge having yet more tea in each , as I am told he will be sorted NOW. Each time I returned he was in a slightly more distressed state as still no one had arrived. In the end I grew a pair and demanded the girl on reception sort it before I lose my rag big time. I am not in tears at the injustice of my Dads dignity being destroyed for no less than £1000 a week!!??
In the first lounge with the amazing views over the bay I decide to do something constructive. I need to make an eye appointment for my girl and book in for her ears to be pierced..a Birthday treat….I am soon interrupted by the ‘I’m on the Way Out’ chap from Sundays lunch…remember when I encountered Nasty Resident!. He inches his way through the lounge, mouths ‘Good Morning’ and passes me onto the roof terrace. He lights the first of two cigarettes. As he returns a nurse arrives to make a cup of tea for another resident. ‘ Nurse’ he rasps…’Nurse!!’ He then tries to whistle and sadly exclaims partly to me and to himself ‘ Oooh its such an effort, I’m not sure I will be able to carry on much longer….you see! I cant even whistle at nurses!’ There was no humour, no irony at all. Just self pity and wistful moaning. I thought then about my dear old dad lying helpless still waiting to be treated like a human being and I felt a wave of real sorrow. Sorrow that he is here and a room number , sorrow that I cannot help him more. Just sorrow:-(
Shaken but the force of this feeling I pressed on with my job in hand and rang to book the ear piercing….suddenly from the corner of my eye I spy Nasty Resident entering the quiet lounge . I was in the corner, clearly on the phone! She attempted to say something to me but I immediately realised I had two choices…1) Politely say Good Morning and then punch her in the neck or 2) Remove myself from the area before I opted for option 1. I chose option 2, luckily for her eh!. No!! Nasty Resident , after making my first visit to see my beloved Dad so uncomfortable you do not get to play nice today. I don’t think so sunshine!! I stalked out past her , nose in the air (well given the small size of my nose it was quite an effort but I did it nonetheless!)
What struck me as most sad in this place is the fact that of three beautiful lounges, light cool and airy , I was in the main the only person to be sitting in them and this amounted to 3, one after the other over the course of about 45 minutes. All the residents were stuck in their rooms and not mingling with each other socially or even enjoying a change of scene unless a visitor arrived and insisted on it…During this time sadly my Dad was still unattended!? By the time the Team leader was instructing two members of staff my tether was all but worn through. I am sure my eyes had turned red by now, like on an over exposed selfie. One of these staff vanished like a puff of smoke, the other promptly wandered off into a completely different room…? Had it not been so astonishing I would have walked in with her and asked if a direct instruction was for my benefit and not really meant for her? Ugh! My poor Dad!:-(
The team leader explained later that the staff who took his breakfast had left after with a bad back, leaving him to hope that she would inform someone that by now he was in dire need of showering and dressing. Unimpressed, I said ‘Well that’s an internal communication issue then and not really our concern. I said at £1000 a week I would have expected better, sorry but its sucked big time.
Next day…his carer from home , a part time lady my mum uses , who is lovely and brilliant went in to see him. He was up, shaved, comfy and looking smart which is how he should be every morning by 11am at the latest frankly. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her for the feedback.
In I go the following day…now I learned a lesson. Mix it up, some days earlier , some later…not to catch anyone out but to have a valid overview of his care. This day I was earlier. It seems to me that the key times when staff are needed is the key time they aren’t around?. So I wander down the duck egg blue corridor merrily unaware another dose of reality is about to kick me in the face. An unmade bed and an empty room. Oh for christ-sakes! Where is he now!? I wander back to reception. ‘Oh , are you sure hes not in bed?’ Well unless he has shrunk quite dramatically and is the size of a flea then NO! HE IS NOT IN HIS BLOODY BED..I said ‘ How far can he go?..he cant walk unaided!! ‘Righto’ she says cheerfully ‘ I will ring around’ Yeh do that!! WTF? Apparently he might have been having a shower or a bath? I ask how and why dont they know that for sure?…hes not a child but he is a vulnerable adult who has pitiful mobility and is in his nightshirt!? She sees my point and we both trek back down the corridor. Low and behold there he is clinging onto the sink in his en-suite as if his life depended on it. I tell him off for getting himself up but then remember that actually in this place he probably had a better chance of retaining his dignity if he did risk the hobble to his bathroom. Oh Christ! So he tells me he got himself there and wasn’t sure how long had been stood there..his feet purple most of the time so hard to tell…poor circulation I guess. But to be fair that was not the issue. The issue was no one would have known had he been on the floor without means to call the alarm, had I not sauntered in with the freakin’ Times and a bar of Frys Peppermint cream!!! Grrrrrr
So I drag a nurse to his aid and again retire to the main lounge…or at least I would have had Nasty Resident not been holed up in there looking vacant and scary. However it occurred to me at that point that actually this woman may not have always been so Nasty. In the whole period I had come to see my Father, I doubted she had seen a single visitor. That’s said isn’t it. Goes to show……. I cant keep away from my Dad because he is so lovely. She sees no-one probably because she is not.
These hiccups were maybe not as bad as felt at the time so I have stored them in my memory and if my Mother wants to address them she can. Worst was to come. So I go in on Friday, knowing my big bro was coming to take over for the weekend so we could see friends etc and I could rest my own body from all the driving…wine and laughter helped with that …Now forgive me if I am wrong but as the Manager of the place had asked me if Dad would like to move down a floor after the weekend , and I said he said a definitely NO, what happened Monday should not have happened. I was told he had been asked and said No. Isn’t that the end of the conversation? In my Mothers world it is not but I thought she was unique in this aspect. Clearly not. So I said NO, he said NO. He was settled and what was the point of a move for two last nights anyway. I kept being told that the view was exceptional from this new room (half the size of his current one as it happened!) I told them he had the exact same bloody view from the other side of the bay at his own house and he couldn’t care a shit about it from that angle either. So why move him?? The view was NOT an incentive for a man who suffers from watering eyes in bright sunlight. Honestly!!Leave him be for the last few nights of his sentence! Sorry . Respite care. Forgot myself for a minute!
Ever hopeful that I might arrive to find my dad enjoying a change of scenery in one of the empty lounges I ask my Bro to make sure he wheels him into one for a treat…So I remind my Bro to tell them leave him be if it came up again, he was quite settled in his room by now and shouldn’t be upset by a move…not that it needed to as it was a finished discussion.
I wander in on Monday and damn-near have a coronary. Where is he? Where is his stuff, why is the room stripped bare..What the hell has happened to my Dad?? Reception inform me that hes moving today isn’t he?
No, he is NOT I said, and YOU heard me tell the Manager he said NO!? ‘Yes I did’ she replied sheepishly..’Hes downstairs in the breakfast lounge’ I stomp off downstairs and ask him if he wants to go to the lounge of his room. ‘My Room’ he says and I wheel him to the only room I know as his. I have to explain that I will be back just as soon as I find out WTF is going on. I cant even sit him with the paper and his glasses as they are no where to be seen either. I am LIVID!!! So it seems in this place too, NO actually means Yes and all his stuff is bagged up and shipped off to a so called ‘better room near the dining room with panoramic windows?? Really? A window so high off the ground even I struggle to see out of in from a seated position..which by the way is pretty much his permanent and ONLY position. Ugh! So I do feel aggrieved that once again the man who is the great man of his house has had his wishes ignored and run roughshod over and is to do as he is told. Not great given someone else’s stuff was already in bags halfway into the room he didn’t want to vacate. I cannot open the fight with the Home until my Mother verifies that she agrees this is out of order. However , as we know she often calls the shots I need to be certain this was not her instruction to make sure he had at least two days worth of exercise dragging to and from the lounge. Not great either way as He said NO! I struggle with how his dignity and wishes no longer figure . He is as alert as you or I and yet he is treated as if his decision making is no longer valid. It is tragic and frankly I see it as a distinct lack of bloody respect. Now I will await my Mothers view on it as I cannot be seen to discourage her from going away again..trust me!, despite odd issues and so much driving , we all enjoyed this respite care!!I visited and checked over the house a number of times, replaced and restored her Laptop which I nicked for Dad to ‘surf ‘ on.., I cleaned out her fridge and left milk for a cuppa….so I think I have shown the right level of support for her break..here’s hoping anyway….
This brings me onto Long Lost family….. As a side note, Nasty Resident may have no family, Lost or otherwise, she may have no friends but if in her case she had driven them away then so be it, she has time to reflect now until she gives up her piece of earth space.
The new series started last week. This episode tracked the story of two half siblings who were unknown to each other yet seeking the same Birth Mother. What are the odds?….in a strange way I felt a huge jolt of emotion with this particular story as its not unlike my own is it!?. Both me and my Half sister set out to find our Birth Mother, the same months of the same year. And we both successfully found her too. Go us!! However in our case she welcomed us both with open arms and an even more open heart. In the case on Long Lost Family , the siblings found each other and were delighted with the union. They found their BM who then rejected them out of hand. She had moved on and two secrets she hoped to keep buried had reared up to bite her arse. It happens right?! So they settled on each other as consolation which was lucky as rejection is a cruel ending to such a scary journey.
My thoughts were then on my Birth Mother, who I messaged a reminder to say it was on. We are in a good place, an easy friendship with laughter and more understanding. I want to dedicate this post to her, for what its worth ….the one person who accepts and allows me to control our relationship for fear of losing it after over 40 years of praying for it. I am entirely myself with her whilst mindful of deep seated pain she still feels when looking backwards into her past…..
Looking forward is so much brighter!:-)
Thanks for reading my rants!
Black Sheep xxx