Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 21 Dec, 2023

Thursday

Bloody hell. What an evening.

Before I’d even got to Mum I can hear “Is anybody there? Can somebody help me?” coming from further up the corridor. It’s wasn’t Mum though so I let it go as it’s not that unusual a thing to hear there.

I found Mum with her blankets thrown over the foot of the bed and the sheet rolled into a ball in her lap. I prepared myself for what I know is coming and how this visit will go.

“Here. Take this. It’s got me socks in it. We need to get the bus home.”

“It’s too late mum. The last bus has gone.”

“Oh”

“Let’s get you covered up before you get cold”

“No”

I folded the sheet and found there was a pillowcase in there too. I put that back on the pillow and chucked it on the bed.

“Here! Careful! That’s not very nice is it?”

I’d clearly thrown the pillow in the face of someone she thinks is in bed with her.

Meanwhile, the cries of “Is anybody there? Can somebody help me?” had come out into the corridor and could no longer be ignored.

“Can I help?”

“There’s a strange woman in my room and she won’t leave. She wants me to take a drain out of her leg. I can’t do that!”

Not having met this lady before I felt the need to actually see for myself whether there was an actual strange woman in there. I knew who it would be if there was one but, well, you know.

There was indeed a strange woman in there. Shirley. She was well settled and I know she won’t be shifted without laying hands on so I summoned help. With Shirley safely evicted I returned to Mum and started the process of talking her out of the idea of leaving. I succeeded. Several times. Within 5 minutes of seeing the sense in staying she was back to getting ready to leave. It only struck me later that when she’s been in this frame of mind before she’d be half out of bed with her legs over the bed rails. Today, she didn’t have the physical strength to do that.

Then I heard “Is anybody there? Can somebody help me? She’s back and she’s shut me out of my room!”

The problem was that the day shift had scarpered like scalded cats on the dot of 8 and the night shift are still getting their act together. I thought they were a carer short too. This time there was a bit of a wait for assistance to arrive. I waited with her. Her name’s Pat and she seemed to have all her marbles.

“There’s a lot of odd people here, aren’t there?”

“Yes, but they’re all very nice. I’m here every day visiting my mum so I know all of them and they all know me. They’re OK when you get used to them.”

“There was one lady who wanted to pay for her lunch (I thought I could guess who that was) and another who wanted wine with her lunch and when they said there wasn’t any she said she was going home to get some (I was pretty sure I knew who that was too)”

We exchanged some small-talk while we waited.

“I bet you could write a book about the goings on here!”

She’s not the first to suggest that.

Assistance arrived to turf Shirley out again and Lily had come to see what all the fuss is. She seems highly amused that someone’s got so confused that they’ve gone into the wrong room. When everyone was where they ought to be I asked Lily if she knew where she was going.

“Nope!”

I walked her back to her room, assured her it was hers, reassure her there won’t be anyone else in it and helped her release the mechanism that holds the door open. I returned to mum for another two or three rounds of “You’re better off staying here”, listened to her tell me about her trip to the shops this morning before telling her it was time for me to go and that I’d see her tomorrow. She looked crushed.

On my way out I met a young chap wandering along the corridor looking lost. Down by the internal secure door is a lady who I’ve only ever seen in the front lounge.

“Are you with that lady?”

“Yes, we came through that door OK but I can’t get the code right to get back.”

I let them through. He could only have been in his early 20s. She might be in her 40s. She’s completely shut down. Never speaks or shows awareness of what’s going on around her. She walks very slowly so I stepped back and gave them some space.

He’s incredibly caring. I guess it’s mother and son. I couldn’t begin to imagine how unbelievably tough that is for him.

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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