Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 10 Jul, 2024

Wednesday

I got another heads-up from Reggie on my way in to The Home.

“It’s Sleepy Mum today. She’s been that way all day.”

He was right. Aside from raising one eyebrow when I first said I was there, she was completely unresponsive.

That’s another compressed cycle with only two days properly awake at most this time around when we could usually expect four. Her ‘Just Coming Out Of Sleepy Mum’ phase was two days instead of one and, aside from yesterday, she’s been much more confused.

It could all be a settling in thing. I’ve noticed before how contagious emotions are among the residents and everyone I spoke to – Audrey, Eleanor and Annie – seemed more confused than normal, more upset about things not being done ‘right’ and they all said they were lonely.

Eleanor was in her room when I was leaving Mum. I stood in the doorway and we had a lengthy conversation about her ‘kids’ and her two little boys (the smallest of her soft toys) especially.  I complimented her on how well they looked and how well she was looking after them. She liked that. She told me how nice her room was and I agreed that it was much nicer than the other place with all that lovely sunlight streaming in. Then she admitted that she was frightened being in there at night because she was sure there were “thousands and millions of things running around” under her bed in the dark.

“I don’t like it here though, being on me own. I don’t like the people. They’re all as common as muck!”

“But that’s alright Eleanor. I’m as common as muck!”

“Yeah! I am too!” she laughed.

I told her I’d report the thousands and millions of things running around and said I hoped she had a nice evening. Moments later, she appeared in the TV lounge where I was talking to Audrey. Audrey was telling me how much she missed seeing me over the past few days, how concerned she was that I hadn’t been to see her and then recounted a complicated tale of woe that I couldn’t understand very much of. I told her that if there was anyone that could cope with a catastrophe like that then that person would be her.

“Oh, you are sweet! But you’re very naughty. I think you’re quite wicked!”

Audrey wanted to monopolise me and wouldn’t let Eleanor speak to me so she went to one of the carers instead.

“Can you help me?”

“What do you want Eleanor?”

“My little boys need something to eat”

“I can’t help them. I’m here to look after you not them.”

“Why won’t you help them?”

“Because they’re not real!”

I thought that was a bit harsh.

Bloody hell. It’s not just the residents who are struggling. I’m quite happy to go along with their reality but then I’m only doing it for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. I’m not sure I could keep it up for a 12 hour shift.

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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