wings and things

Small mercies

on January 29, 2015

I have just found out that my lifestyle assistant/occupation therapy role in the dementia house of the nursing home where I work part-time will now allow me to feed those residents who can’t feed themselves. I will also be allowed to serve food and drinks (previously a no-no due to the risks of choking/dysphagia) but now that I have seen the training dvd twice, and filled out the dysphagia quiz/questionairre, I am allowed to help, rather than hover, during mealtimes.

Not only that, the three of us who alternate in this role have had our 3-6pm shifts extended by an hour – to 7pm – which is a wonderful idea because it will allow for a more relaxing atmosphere before and after meals.

I am still finding my feet in this job and today I felt a bit at a loss when the wheelchair walking was limited to inside (due to the heat – 36ish) and, after taking F, Y and B through the inside of the complex, from house to house, I came back to find that M’s daughter had begun a very successful table ball game (rolling a plastic ball to and fro).

M’s daughter is really competent with this game thing, whereas I am still a newbie and not very good at playing games, so I am learning a lot from her. She visits her mother every single day at the same time and when I see her I feel relieved to have her bingo expertise!

It is hard sometimes to find ways to provide entertainment because I am pretty hopeless at card games and jigsaws and arts and craft; I much prefer a conversation and today B and I had a hilarious one.

E, the OT boss, says that to be unhurried is good and to go with the flow is even better but it is harder than I thought it would be to just relax into this role. The unpredictability of how each of the ten women feel each day from 3pm is, of course, the governing cue and if someone is anxious she is the first person I comfort either with a hug or a walk or a conversation. Today, S. was, as usual, crying so I said, “C’mon, S, it’s not that bad!” And she looked up at me, bared her teeth and said, “Okay, Mum!” We all laughed – residents and staff.

B said “Told you so” in her droll way, Y said “Leave me aloooooone!” and J, who hardly ever shows any feelings, smiled at me just before I was finally allowed to give her dessert.

Small, wonderful mercies!

40 responses to “Small mercies

  1. ksbeth says:

    you learn as you go, and things change from minute to minute. that’s what i learned. in my mom’s home they tried ‘laugh yoga’. residents sat in their chairs and went through a series of arm reaches, exercises, etc. it was to inspire them to stretch, relax and possibly smile or laugh. when they asked my mom what she thought of it, she said, ‘this was the stupidest thing i’ve ever seen.’ ) also, played balloon volleyball over a ‘net’ while in chairs, played 1950s music and had a dance party, etc. they were very creative, but the outcomes depended on how each resident was doing/feeling at any particular moment. never taken personally by the staff or volunteers. and so many touching and funny stories.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thank you soooo much for this! It is such a relief to know you know how challenging this is. I can do the ad-lib thing easily with Anthony of course, but I get a bit shy in this other job role. I guess the bottom line for me is respect and being a bit spontaneous! Your mother’s comment resembles the kind of response I get if I try to do a structured activity and I totally agree with her!

  2. bulldog says:

    Talking and hugs probably mean more than games anyway…. maybe you should tell them what sterkte means

  3. Vicki says:

    A smile warms the heart.

    So glad J. warmed yours today.


  4. Rhonda says:

    Sounding more and more like a typical holiday gathering at my house back in the day, where the old sisters would huddle on one side of the room, each in their respective ‘special’ chairs.

    A couple would chit chat like clucking chickens (Christy and Gladys)
    Another would just moan and complain (Margaret)
    The youngest and smallest of them would laugh at the others and call them old fussy bodies, then tell a dirty joke (Clara)
    And the oldest and wisest (my Gram Mary) would tell the first two to quiet down, the second to stop complaining, and the to the youngest she’d say “Clara! The kids will hear you!”…then she’d laugh.

    I can think of little else that fills my memory banks with more heart than the older generation of women in our family. I think you are in just the right place Jules…these gals will add as much to your life as you are adding to theirs. xo

  5. Wow, indeed, and bless your sweet heart for wanting to, and, doing this. ❤

  6. susanpoozan says:

    I do so admire the way you have taken on all these new challenges, hats off to you!

  7. Ahh I bet you’re like an angel to them sometimes Jules! ❤
    Diana xo

  8. Terry says:

    So glad you get a little bit extra time in at work and you are learning from the elderly. How cool is that?

  9. Judy says:

    You are such a gift to so many people. I love seeing how you are enriching your own life – but making such a difference to the people you care for. Beautiful!

    • jmgoyder says:

      Years ago when I worked as an enrolled nurse in nursing homes I used to wish I could do what I am doing now but there never used to be such a thing as a lifestyle assistant. It’s the most wonderful job!

  10. tootlepedal says:

    I am sorry it was too warm to walk. Not a problem over here at the moment.

  11. janeslog says:

    Glad you are enjoying your job. We have had 3 inches of snow and there is a lot of ice about because the council has cut back on gritting the roads (they rarely do the pavements) and taking a wheelchair out in that would be too dangerous.

    Funny how issues you have in Australia like it being too warm would never occur in Scotland but being too cold and icy would never happen in Australia.

  12. batgurrl says:

    Jules. What an adventure you are on. Life does throw us new curves every day. Robin

  13. I think that everything that you are doing is awesome. I hope that you guys don’t suffer too much from the heat. I think that it’s great that these ladies still have flashes of chutzpah 😀

  14. Julie, I love your enthusiasm to ‘do’ for ‘your’ people. You are making such a difference in people’s lives.

  15. My sister who volunteers at Nan’s nursing home usually feeds the patients and sometimes if we are there when nanna is having breakfast mum or I will feed her.

  16. My Heartsong says:

    This brings back memories of feeding patients in a nursing home when I was a nursing attendant.One woman in particular who could change her look from angelic smile to evil glare in a flash-couldn’t get much past her!

  17. Devin Krause says:

    Nice blog thankks for posting

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