Wednesday, 25 November 2009


"Oh - it's you again". Sometimes it's a phrase said with genuine affection. Sometimes relief. Sometimes it's just downright disdain.
"Armchair", you grunt, as an afterthought to the opening phrase.
Well, yes. It is me again. And again. And again. I keep coming back here when you've had enough of another one of your clients. But this time, I can bite my tongue no longer.
This time, you left her in the armchair, in front of all the other residents, for a whole day. And night. And most of another day. Almost 36 hours, and none of you thought to check on her.
You just "assumed".
You just thought "she doesn't do much usually".
You just presumed "she was in one of those moods".
None of you thought that it was unusual that she hadn't asked for help to get to meals.
Or back to bed.
Or even to the toilet.
Three shifts went by, and she was still sat in the armchair.
When you finally took a look, you saw she was barely breathing.
You saw she was covered in vomit.
You smelt the strong smell of urine.
So you told her off. Like she was some sort of small child.
Like it was her fault that she'd possibly been unconscious for the best part of two days.
Like it was her fault you ignored her.
Well you know what? It's your fault. Your job is to care, to pay attention, to tend to needs. That's why she was there, so you could look after her. That's what you have chosen to do. That's what you're paid for. So don't tell me that you're "not paid to think, just to clean them". The "them" you refer to are people. Not animals or the cages that they're kept in.
You were charged with her welfare, when she had no where else to look, and no one else to turn to. And you failed.
And I hate to say it - I get the feeling you're almost glad.
Glad that she's taken off your hands.
Glad that you're no longer responsible.
Glad that she'll probably never return to that armchair.


nickopotamus said...

You sometimes wonder why people go into nursing homes if they don't want to care for the residents? If it's just for the money, I believe McDonalds has better pay and lower entry requirements...

Anonymous said...

Do you not have a duty of care to report places like that?

Awful. Absolutely terrible.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a place like that when I was a student, we complained and the uni stopped using it. As long as the lift pelmets were straight and clean it didn't matter that the people who lived there weren't and the staff not only didn't care they didn't even notice.

It's embarrassing and sad that people go into jobs to care and stop once they get a uniform, and the people who suffer have generally acheived so much in their lives and deserve so much more.

Fee said...

I really, really hope that I never end up in a place like this. I'd rather take a one way trip to Switzerland, frankly.

Anonymous said...

My Grandmother was in a home (she had Alzheimers) where the care she received was superficially good in terms of hygiene and medical attention, but very lacking in terms of personal contact and respect, particularly when it comes to the issue of talking to residents as children rather than adults. My great-uncle (who has dementia) is now in a different home and it is the polar opposite of the one you describe. The residents enjoy an amazing quality of life and are valued by the staff. There are good places out there, but not so many. It reminds me of the comments in the film "The Breakfast Club"
Richard Vernon: You think about this: when you get old, these kids - when *I* get old - they're going to be running the country.
Carl: Yeah.
Richard Vernon: Now this is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night. That when I get older, these kids are going to take care of me.
Carl: I wouldn't count on it.

slmiller72 said...

The place you describe is unfortunately, only one of many.

I've lost count of the amount of times i've been to "care" homes to find the residents sat slumped in chairs, stuck in front of the TV or laying in bed staring at the ceiling - no social interaction whatsoever. Even more worrying is that i've lost count of the number of patients i've "blued" into hospital from these places having been told the patient has only just become unwell!!!

I say you can always judge these homes on 3 things - the amount of times they have called an amb out, the amount of staff they have caring for the residents overnight ( normally 1 nurse and an HCA - not enough) and whether or not the smell of urine/uti/faeces hits you immediately as you enter the premises...

The quality of staff leaves a lot to be desired more often than not. As bad as this sounds though - you pay peanuts...

Ben Yatzbaz said...

All - Thank you for your comments. As far as McD's - spot on. Couldn't agree with you more.
We do have a duty of care to report such things, and you can bet your mortgage on the fact that I did. I'll never know what happens because of my report, but I knew I couldn't leave it alone.
A one way trip to Switzerland may be a little drastic, but I can totally see your point. I've already threatened the boss that if she ever puts me anywhere like that then I'll take the first chance I get to go up to the roof...
I'm not for one minute suggesting that care homes are only bad places. There are some good, even very good places out there. There are some very attentive and caring people who work in them, and there are very appreciative residents in many cases. I know that there is good and bad in everything and everywhere, but this one really sticks in my mind as it's not such a rare occurrence, and this one in particular is so horrendous.
Paying peanuts is obviously one otherproblem - one that needs resolving. Maybe then they'll attract the right sort of staff with the right sort of attitude.
I wish such things didn't exist, but as long as they do, I'll keep on shouting about them.

stanleygoodspeed said...

Why is it that occupations that are there to care seem to be filled by a worryingly high number of people who don't give a shit? I've come across more teachers, nurses and care home assistants with zero empathy than I'd care to remember. Do you think it's beaten out of them by the day-to-day toils and trials of their job? I know I probably wouldn't be able to do it, but it's still not good enough.

Ben Yatzbaz said...

Apologies to the anonymous comment I have just removed. I heavily suspect that the name you named was a parody - not a real care home (I even looked into it first). Nevertheless, in the name of not getting my sorry behind kicked - it had to go. No naming of names allowed. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

aww spoilsport.....take that as a yes then!

Anonymous said...

Very sad! I am so grateful my grandparents are well taken care of.
I think the motto of all old age care centers should be: Old age is a condition not an illness (although illnesses do come upon them).

Remember: Growing old is a privilege denied to many.