Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 9 Apr, 2024

Tuesday

The Home was in that In-between-ey sort of state when I arrived. The 9-to-5-ers had gone, the residents were mostly sleeping off their last meal of the day and the day shift were getting everything ship-shape for the arrival of the night shift.

The customary exchange of genteel pleasantries with Audrey and her gang was back in place too.

Today was Day 3 of Mum’s activity cycle. The one where she’s come out of her hypoactive, sleepy phase just enough to feel absolutely rotten and miserable. Every movement is uncomfortable because she’s stiff from being immobile for a day or so. When Mum did try and move she’d say the only words she said clearly all evening.

“Oh Blimey!”

All she really wanted to do was lie there and hold my hand. I read a few chapters while I did so.

Her hand had struck me as being very warm but then it had just emerged from under the duvet. She nodded when I asked if she felt hot and confirmed she felt better when I opened the window.

She mumbled something I couldn’t make out but I understood the gesture. Day 3 is the phase of the cycle where her back is itchy and I have to scratch it for her. My assumption is that this is because she hasn’t really moved for the previous two days.

“You do feel very warm Mum. Are you sure you’re alright?”

She nodded weakly.

Then she looked at the queue of drinks on her table and mumbled something.

“Say again Mum? Do you want a drink?”

I tried, and probably failed, not to sound too surprised. That never happens. Mum seems to have lost all sense of agency. She’ll quite readily tell you what she doesn’t want but she’ll never make the link between a perceived need and a request for someone to do something about it. Is that a generational thing? If you can’t do something for yourself then you put up with it not being done at all unless someone else suggests they do it for you?

I read a bit more and she asked for another drink.

We sat and listened to the shift changing and the bustle of people being taken to bed. There were a few raised voices in the lounge. Was that Audrey, Lily or Shirley? All of the above probably.

“The girls will be round to change you and get you ready for the night in a minute Mum. I’m going to go and get myself a cup of tea and then take the dog out for her least wee. I’ll see you tomorrow”.

No response.

I put my hand on her forehead as I often do when I’m leaving. She was definitely hot. And sweaty.

I headed to the nurses’ office where the nurse in charge was organising the evening meds. Before I could speak to her, there was someone yelling at me from across the lounge.

“OI! CAN YOU DO ME A FAVOUR!?”

It’s Eleanor.

“Can you fetch that cushion from over there? I’d do it meself only I’ve got a bad leg.”

“This one?”

“Yeah. That’s it”

She leaned forward as I brought it to her and I placed it in the small of her back.

“Better?”

“Lovely! Ooh, you are kind!”

She gave my hand a squeeze.

I did eventually get to speak to the nurse and asked if she wouldn’t mind checking Mum’s temperature tonight. I couldn’t tell if she really does have a slight fever or just needs a duvet with a lower tog rating.

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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