Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 9 Oct, 2023

Monday

I nearly got away with a very short visit at lunchtime. It took 3 attempts at waking Mum up before she knew I was there. She’d clearly just had lunch as it was all over her chin. I said I’d read for a bit and she was sound again within minutes. But when I said I’d go and leave her to sleep she came to and got upset. I went back to where I’d started in the book and I didn’t think she heard any of it the second time round either. Then a nurse arrived to clean her up and change her. Being made clean and comfortable normally makes her go to sleep. But not today. She said very little but did mention how much she enjoyed seeing the grandchildren yesterday and how long they stayed for.

More reading.

Got there 45 minutes before the shift change this evening. Juliette said she wanted a quick chat. Mum starts her anti-depressants tomorrow. 50mg Sertraline daily. She says that’s the standard starting dose but I was on 200mg when I took it. I shared my experience with it and said Mum was in for a difficult couple of weeks. She said she’d heard the same. She said that one of the side effects was gaining weight. We agreed that that wouldn’t be a problem for Mum.

Plenty more chat ensued including Mum’s UTI, dementia pre- and post-stroke, reluctance to get out of bed, reluctance to socialise etc. I mentioned how impressed I was that she’d diagnosed the UTI from Mum’s vague description of her symptoms. Apparently I’d been given the credit in Mum’s notes for raising the alarm. The conversation moved on and was only interrupted by the arrival of the night shift for the handover.

When I eventually got to Mum’s room I found her quiet and listless. Even when she did say something the sentence would just drift off as if she couldn’t be bothered to finish it. She brightened up a bit when I started reading. She hasn’t noticed that I’ve gone back to the beginning of the book. I’m going to have to find something similar. Not for Mum’s sake though. I’m going to get fed up with this book long before she does.

After sending out the family update, Eldest Sister gave her view of Mum’s difficulty with socialising and that it was nothing new.

I arranged for her to join a local knitting group before her eyesight went, even arranging transport and she just didn’t go. When I asked why she just said she didn’t know anyone there, even without going! At any group she would expect others to make the effort to speak to her and include her, but would not start talking to people she didn’t know or had a mutual friend with. If she was with people she wanted to be the centre of attention, but would not take the initiative to start the conversation. That’s why she stopped going to many groups. I did try to tell her that she needed to change but to no avail

I’ve told several of the staff that very tale now. Mum would sit in a chair if she could do so in her room but she can’t be left unattended. The home isn’t staffed to a level where they can commit a nurse to an individual resident for that length of time. The one time Mum did spend any time in the lounge was when I sat with her. That meant getting there early enough to get her mentally prepared for the expedition, getting her hoisted into a wheelchair and then hoisted into a recliner, helping her with her meal, waiting for the period when half the shift goes off to get their own lunches to end, then waiting for the post-lunch changes for bed-bound residents to be completed, then waiting for the hoist to become available before transferring Mum back to bed. The whole process took over 4 hours and Mum had had enough after 5 minutes. She may get used to it in time but I’m not sure I would.

Juliette tells me that it takes some people longer than others to get settled in. There have been plenty of families who’ve said that there was no way their mum would tolerate being in the lounge only to find that they loved it. One such lady liked it so much that after two days she would insist on being first in and last out. The staff have been here before plenty of times. Steve and Juliette have got 20+ years experience at The Home between them. I’m happy to let them lead on this.

Bibliography

Tales from the Parish: 31 humorous short stories about community, family and village life, set in the English countryside

Kindle Edition

by Stefania Hartley

Author’s Note

My Mum is in a nursing home in a small village in the Thames Valley. The photo is not of the home. I used an AI image generator to give the reader some idea of the home she’s in.

All, some or maybe even none (you’ll never know!) of the names have been changed to protect privacy and hide real identities. If you think you recognise someone then let me know and I’ll edit the post or remove it entirely

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