wings and things

Nursing home friendships

on July 22, 2015

One of the most beautiful things about being with Anthony in the afternoons – in his nursing home room – is the easy friendships with various staff.

These various staff have various roles, of course: domestic duties, carer duties, medication duties, managerial duties, catering/cooking duties, OT duties, volunteer duties, supervisory/teaching duties, orientation duties, and many, many more. When any staff member (regardless of role) drops in – I always either ‘pause’ or ‘mute’ the TV. This creates a little bit of silence, just enough to enable an interaction that will make Anthony smile. This is because he was always gregarious, and loud, and the life of the party, and nobody will ever know this unless I tell them. Many of the staff now understand how a bit of banter with Anthony can rekindle a semblance of the BIG personality out of the tinyness of who he is now (quiet and thin). They haven’t just discovered this via me, they have also discovered it via him.

There are certain staff that can, in a few seconds, rustle him out his silence, conjure the smile, make him feel valued, but of course they are always rushed, doing their own jobs and not wanting to appear to be wasting time. Recently, due to the rush of work, two of the carers opted to come and visit Anthony on their days off so they could spend more time with him – I was astounded by their generosity, and so grateful!

But, even during work hours, those quick visits are invaluable and, whenever I am there too, staff will often drop in and have a chat with us. I think this is wonderful! Whenever any of the staff drop in to simply say hello to Anthony and me – to chat, gossip, joke, hug – I can come home with the knowledge that he is well cared for and, more importantly in a way, cared about.

Here’s an idea: what if every single staff member were allocated half an hour per day to spend a bit more time with a resident? This could be used in five-minute increments so that staff could linger a bit in various residents’ rooms just for a chat, instead of having to rush off to their various duties. One of the chefs at the nursing home dropped in to Anthony’s room the other day to admire the artificial roses that she thought were real.

Me: Haven’t you noticed these before?
Chef: Yes, but I never have time! They look so real!

We had a hurried conversation and she zipped off back to the kitchen. I wanted to give her a massive hug but I restrained myself as I seem to have become overly-huggy lately. A bit later in the afternoon:

Anthony: Your roses are a hit.
Me: Yes! Anthony: But I planted them. Give that lady a cutting. Me: Yes.

I wish that I could name the various staff who have become friends of ours, those people who, in the line of duty, don’t mind detouring in order to offer kindness and friendship. But I respect their privacy so all I can do here is to say thank you to them, every single one of them, because they will know who they are.

35 responses to “Nursing home friendships

  1. I love your idea of some allotted chat time–it would mean so much to residents–especially those who do not get the attention that Anthony does–he is a very lucky and loved man

  2. susanpoozan says:

    What special people you interact with each day and how splendid that they are prepared to give Anthony time even on their days off. The human race has a lot of good in it. I guess your character has something to do with all this.

  3. Judy says:

    Those friendships sound wonderful. It’s so touching when people go out of their way to extend care and compassion – outside of their job. The chef sure “rose” to the occasion!

  4. Julie, I hope you’re still working on your book because these kinds of tidbits are invaluable! ❀
    Diana xo

  5. I love the way you made Anthony’s new home, your home as well. It’s wonderful πŸ˜€ Hugs

    • jmgoyder says:

      It has been the strangest journey as Anthony has lived way beyond any of his prognoses so we have had to adjust to this astounding fact (difficult to describe; it’s good in some ways but awful in other ways as he is so disabled now).

  6. ksbeth says:

    and that is a lovely part of this whole experience

  7. It sounds as though Anthony is in the ‘right’ nursing home. I only wish all of them were as full of staff like there is there. I know though that many homes are short-staffed and they do the best they can do… Diane

    • jmgoyder says:

      This place is always short-staffed too but the kindness is impressive.

      • I guess I was remembering the home my mother was in; that were very understaffed and not only could they not take time to ‘visit a little bit, but patients waited sometime for help such ‘toileting’ that it was a lot of times ‘too late’…. Diane

  8. It’s wonderful that you have such great caring people around! It would make it easier to leave a loved one in a place where you know people care about him. I imagine it has something to do with your personality as well as Ants. Kind people bring kindness to them.

  9. Vicki says:

    Sounds as though both you and Anthony are a big hit with the locals and I can well imagine why. People who take the time to care (as you have done with the staff and residents) are always remembered and sought after.

    Most elderly people love a friendly smile and chat and I remember my Mother (who worked in several nursing homes as a cook) who did the same thing. She took the time to take in stamps from around the world to the 97 yr old man who collected them for example.

    I think your idea is a wonderful one. These days, care homes and such like usually have a minimum of staff and if a number of residents need regular meds, help etc they just haven’t the time to spend in friendly chitchat.

    I’m sure many people in care (physical or mental) would be more lively and improve their overall wellbeing if someone visited and chatted with them every single day.

  10. Terry says:

    Sounds like everything turned out well in the end at the nursing home

  11. My Heartsong says:

    When I worked in Long-term care those short but meaningful talks with residents always gave me a lift.

  12. I think that’s a brilliant idea Julie, absolutely brilliant. It would make for happier people. Period.

  13. I would think your suggestion would help the residents, but also care workers to feel more valued and energized in their job.

  14. Amy says:


  15. Trisha says:

    I’m glad such wonderful people are there looking after the residents!

  16. ir only takes a moment to be kind and cost us nothing. what a shame that more people don’t get this. i know the few times i have been a patient i have so appreciated the few extra moments shared with a caring nurse or other staff member. it truly is the little things that mean a lot in our life. they are lucky to know how much you appreciate them.

  17. Clover says:

    This is especially important in nursing homes if we are to prevent or slow down alzheimer’s or dementia related problems. communication with a heart!

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