Friday 25 December 2009

christmas 2009

I arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon to find Mum's household quiet, with half the residents out on family visits. The lounge was dripping with decorations and the dining area set up as one long table, where a buffet was being set up. The Lead Care Worker was dressed in Santa garb. She told me that Mum had suffered a little accident today.

My heart skipped a beat, but she quickly explained that she'd visited Mum's room earlier to find that she had vomited copiously everywhere, having entirely scoffed a large box of biscuits. (Hmm... I think that must have been my Brother-in-Law's gift). Apparently, Mum had been very distressed that I might find her in this state and they'd spent time restoring the room (and Mum) prior to my visit. It's still strange for me to imagine Mum being anxious to impress me - it seems so backwards, but I guess I'm the Parent now.

We found Mum asleep in bed, with a bad case of bed-hair (there will be no portrait of Mum this week). I gave her my present, which was a mostly a selection of size 16 clothes from Marks & Spencer, and I set to work ironing in some identity labels. Mum sat on the bed, looking adoringly at me and chatting away.

We moved through the standard checklist of conversation that comes up every visit nowadays:

1) have I heard from my Sister?
2) how is my job going?
3) who is that man in all the photographs on the walls?

answers: (1) "nope", (2) "umm" and (3) "your Husband of almost 50 years"

Mum's reply to answer (3) was, "Really? I never thought I'd hang onto a man THAT long!" (It's becoming apparent that Mum was something of a Man-Eater in her early years).

When I'd finished doing the labels, we walked down the corridor to the Lounge and joined the rest of the residents, who were sitting watching "Happy Feet" on TV. Mum introduced me to everyone.

In light of the documentaries I've watched recently, it was interesting to note that the staff members on duty were busy up the other end of the room getting on with their tasks whilst the residents were left in the care of some animated penguins. When I sat down amongst them they all became a bit more animated themselves and each of them was keen to have some interaction with me (I've noticed that they mostly ignore each other). They'd ask me how the penguins had been trained, or where penguins lived, or whether the penguins were really talking, because it seemed like they were talking... Each of them looked very happy that I was there to respond to them and I saw the truth of what Gerry Robinson had noticed - the importance of someone simply being there responding to the residents rather than merely servicing them.

However, it's obvious that there IS interaction at other times and I think the Care Home had done a good job of Christmas this year. The decorations were pretty amazing and spoke of a lot of effort expended, and I heard that there had been Carol Singers and parties in other households leading up to the big day.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!


Sorata said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Gregory!!!! Heheh sorry I didn't send out a card this year, I've been a bit lazy hehehe

Those gold paper wrap looks soooo cute! Did you do it yourself? What is the red ball thing on top of it though? At first I thought it was a decor, but seems like it's not attached to the ribbon?

Nice to read that you and Mum has a "routine" as well, any routine is good for her age!

Very cute to read how you interact with others elderly, I'm sure you were their little star that day :)

Greg said...

The "red ball" is a box of chocolate-coated almonds. I thought it looked pretty. Inside the gold box, along with the clothes, is one bag of Hershey's Kisses, one bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans and a small box of fine chocolates. I figured that Mum is more American now that she's younger in her head, so I'd try some US brands of candy.

Yes, I did the wrapping (in about 2 minutes).

Mum is nowadays the kind of kid who isn't much interested in getting clothes as a present, but likes sweet things and shiny stuff. She returned constantly to the red ball/box.

Gavin said...

The common area looks nice in the pic. Very homey and there are a lot of decorations!

I think it's good that she is aware that you are coming, knows you, and can introduce you around.

I hear you on interaction with the residents. I try really hard to say hello, have a big smile, and chat as much as possible. So many of them have been left there and no one visits...ever. It's to the point where I think some of them are as happy to see me as my mom!

Lily said...

Love your post, it rings so true! I had a funny experience when last in the residents' lounge with mum. A man in a wheelchair kept trying to attract my attention (aided by lovely daughter who thoughtfully provided him with my name!). He kept shouting: "LILY! LILY! - YOU AND ME - OUTSIDE - NOW!" and "LILY! LILY! LITTLE THEATRE! YOU AND ME!" I think I've clicked!

Greg said...

Ha Ha! Yes, you've got yourself a fan there. I hope he doesn't start grabbing you. I've had a couple of shock gropes from sweet-looking Grannies over the past few years. As I've said elsewhere, it's obvious I've been looking for love in all the wrong places ;) Happy New Year, Lily.

LSL said...

Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu, Greg.

I'm sure even the best care workers struggle to strike a balance and get everything done, but it's hard to hear about the residents sitting alone, and then getting so perked up for interaction when you walked over. It's all difficult.

I believe one year ago you were writing me about your job situation, and I had no idea I would be in the same boat very soon. You seemed to accomplish a lot in 2009, and I hope 2010 hold great, great things for you. xo

Greg said...

Why Domo Arigato Goaimasu and a Happy New Year to you, too, my Dear.

Nice try, but we both know that you achieve more in one day in Portland than I've got done this past year. When it comes to being a Slacker, you're in the Junior League, Surf Chick.

Seriously, LSL, thank you for your support all this time and I hope 2010 brings you all you could wish for, even a job if that proves necessary (as long as it doesn't interfere with the important surfing).

G x

citygirl said...

Hi Greg,

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy Ne Year from citygirl. I've been offline for a few weeks just soaking up time at home and tons of sleep. Felt really good.

I enjoyed reading this entry very much. I think your mom's place looks really nice! I like the big open tv area. My mom's place had a tv area but it was poorly designed and not nearly big enough (did they think everyone would just stay in their own rooms or something?!).

I'm happy to hear your visit went so well and your mom was happy to see you. Love the 3 topics you cover in every visit. My mom had similar topics and never remembered being married to my dad or his passing (which was oddly a bit of a blessing...I'd hate to have to explain that all the time).

Hope 2010 holds wonderful things for you. :) citygirl