Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 22 Jun, 2024

Saturday

Another long day for Lesley. Her dad can’t hear a thing. Again. The fix that his day centre’s resident ‘expert’ applied to his hearing aids has lasted less than 24 hours before he’d broken them. Again.

It turned out that it wasn’t a supply of dodgy batteries (as he thought) or accidental/misguided contact with the control buttons (as I thought). His dexterity is now so poor that he can’t take them off properly and he’s separating the amplifier from the in-ear moulding. Lesley found a good video on YouTube, furnished herself with some tools from my toolbox and headed off. Given the motorway closures and the impact they have on traffic for miles around she opted for the train.

With his hearing aids fixed and weekly meds sorted, she turned to dealing with his post. In amongst it is a “Sorry we missed you! Your parcel is behind your garden gate.” card.

“When did this come Dad?”

“Never seen it before.”

“Did you find anything by the back gate?”

“Haven’t been out thee.”

There was nothing by the back gate and no clue as to what was delivered, when it was delivered or where it went.

Lesley’s attention then turned to getting him something to eat. He’s hardly got anything in his fridge but what there was had gone off. Lesley’s been relying on him reporting what he’s short of when shopping for him. It’s clear he hasn’t been eating properly and he hadn’t run out of anything. A Use By date is too modern a concept for him to think about.

I had been expecting a long walk with The Dog while all this was going on. One of her many Rules is that when Lesley goes out to her dad, I get to go on one of the longer and more strenuous walks. Not today. I couldn’t tell if it was the warmer weather or if she was sulking because Lesley had gone out but she wasn’t enjoying it and we didn’t stray far from home. We were still out for ages though as she kept stopping and looking up at me with a “Don’t make me do this” expression on her face. I took the opportunity to get some work done on returning my Urban Rewilding Project to something that resembles a garden. At least one neighbour will appreciate the effort after sending a “There’s room in my garden waste recycling bin if you need it” message.

With Lesley safely returned and a meal hastily eaten it was my turn to go out. The Home was deadly quiet. Only three residents left now. Audrey, Lily and Mum.

Lily was very withdrawn. She sat forlornly watching the TV in silence. I felt desperately sorry for her. Even she must be able to see the changes going on around her and yet she wasn’t part of them. Monday is going to be a horrendous day for her.

Audrey’s anxiety level had gone up again since yesterday and her accessible vocabulary had shrunk. From what I could make out, someone had done something she didn’t approve of and she had made her views clear. Her father had, apparently, been to reprimand her for her use of language which had become unacceptably “colourful”. She also expressed a concern that people were thinking she was “quite insane”. Once I’d been able to prise myself away and carry on to see Mum I could see the cause of her anxiety. As I passed Audrey’s room I could see that all her belongings were packed ready for her transfer in the morning.

I could hear Mum talking before I got to her room. I found her with her sheet and blanket rolled in a ball in her lap and one leg over the bed rail. Predictably, it wasn’t long before she said

“Help me up. I’m going home.”

This Sleepy/Active cycle was already strange. Mum had only just come out of a Sleepy phase on Thursday and was already at or near a Peak Active Mum phase.

There was a handful of Other People with us and Mum was giving them their instructions. I hoped they could understand what she was saying because I couldn’t make a word out.

“Your voice is really hoarse Mum. Have you been talking all day?”

“Yeah”

I got her straight and comfortable and remade the bed. Every few minutes she’d kick her legs back over the bedrail.

“Get back under the blanket Mum. You’ve got to sit tight until you’ve had your meds. They’ll be here soon. Have a quick drink to whet your whistle.”

We didn’t have to wait long for Virgil to arrive.

“Hello Iris! I’ve got some tablets for you. Just two tonight. Which of these drinks would you like with them?”

“Doesn’t matter. Don’t like either of them”

It was Virgil’s last shift and he stopped for a long chat. He’s not going with the team to Beck House as they don’t need night nurse cover. He spoke of how good the team at The Home was, how low the staff turnover was and how supportive they were of each other even though he only did one shift a week.

And all the while, Mum talked to her Other People.

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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