jmgoyder

wings and things

Nursing home friendships

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.

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