Friday, 8 August 2014

What I 'Forgot' to Say.....

I visited a residential home the other day to do an assessment.  However good some of these places might be, the idea that I might ever have to live in one gives me the wooblies.  Not sure where I stand on the euthanasia argument.  I like to think that life is pretty sacred  but could well veer towards the pro-assisted suicide end of the spectrum myself if cooped up with a whole load of other people who seemed to be waiting to die.  We never know how we might react if personal circumstances change.

The last time I'd been to this particular one  was some months ago.  It had been to take one of the people on my caseload there to live. She has advancing dementia and her husband, who's done an honourable job over the last few years, couldn't cope with her care anymore.  As is usually the case, the woman herself didn't realise that she wouldn't be coming back to her own home again as she chirpily got in the car with me.  If I had told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth that would  have been too distressing for her. In these circumstances I never tell porkies per se.  Instead I don't disclose very much at all. It feels just as dishonest. Lying by omission I think it's called which must be why it jolts my conscience so badly.

'Oh, I'm taking you for a coffee' I say breezily. And yes, we are definitely going to have a cuppa at our destination.  I make sure of that. What's missing from the conversation though is 'And by the way, once you're sat down, I'll sneak out, leaving you locked up and you'll never see your house again.'  Dreadful isn't it? The other way of doing it though where a person might perhaps be dragged kicking and screaming for all their neighbours to see, is far worse.  At least  using my method, their dignity remains intact.  So it doesn't matter in the scheme of things that I'm left feeling like a complete and utter git, sometimes for a few days afterwards.  It isn't all about me after all.   I'm sometimes left thinking that  my former life as a tax accountant was a whole bunch easier.

My lady was in the day room at the home.  I'd worked with her for years and we'd had a fond relationship.  When she was diagnosed she hadn't wanted to live anymore but she said that it was me that had helped her see that there was hope that she could enjoy herself for a while longer. I'd encouraged her to holiday and party until it was no longer possible.  Even so, I didn't expect her to know me from Adam.  But as she saw me, her eyes lit up in recognition and she rushed towards me to give me a great big hug and kiss.  Phew! she hadn't remembered our last meeting when I'd been responsible for her incarceration.  I was incredibly touched.  It's moments like this that remind me that perhaps other people might think I'm doing a good job after all and that career swap years ago was undoubtedly worthwhile.


  1. You sound like a very caring person, and I am sure that your way of doing it is better. I understand why it makes you feel bad though.

  2. This moved me to tears. What a terrible part of your job that is, BUT it was necessary both for the sake of the lady involved and for her husband. You wrote beautifully on the subject.

  3. That definitely sounds like a better way of moving somebody, and much less stressful for everyone concerned. Your job isn't easy, but it must be very rewarding - much more so than being a tax accountant I imagine.

  4. When I finished nursing school, the only jobs available were in nursing homes. By the time I left, I felt like I was warehousing old people. Dementia, incontinence, no family, no visitors, minimal outings (I worked with very old, very sick people), and when the family did eventually visit, they wanted every medical intervention.

    It put me off growing old.

    I want death with dignity and have told my children not to bother with life extending treatments.

    An instructor in nursing school told me to remember that far more elderly people live at home until the end of their lives and that the home residents are the exception amongst the elderly.

    I know as a nurse, dementia patients are hard, hard, work. I salute and admire those that can work in that area.

  5. Sending you a big ((((HUG)))) because my Mum and I need people like you - Thank you.

  6. What menopausalmusings said. Sniff.