Many years ago, I worked in an older people’s home. It was a job I loved, hard work and poorly paid. I have more than a few friends who work in this field today, and they confirm the situation is unchanged. There has to be tremendous dedication and caring to do this work.
I’ve asked some of my friends who work in homes a single question, and the answer is consistent. I’ll come to the question and answer at the end of the essay. But first, a recollection.
There are two people involved in this story. Mrs Hope and Albert. Albert is someone I looked after, and we became friends. Mrs Hope is the tough-minded matron who ruled the home with compassion and strict rules. The rest home was clean as a new pin, and everything was well run and fair. No doubt in my mind, her dedication to the residents, staff and home was terrific. She’d been a ward sister at a city hospital for twenty years, she was old school efficient.
Everyone loved her: she’d chastise a fault and demonstrate how to rectify the issue. Two minutes later she’d ask about your family and what you want for Christmas. Mrs Hope knew the importance of closing a discipline and moving on: a unique asset indeed. She’d walk the whole of the building at least twice a day talking to everyone. The certainty was Mrs Hope was exceptional and without comparison. Everyone who met or worked with her accepted her as the queen of the domain. Hard as she was: we knew the heart was gold.
We took trolleys of tea, coffee and biscuits around the rest rooms at 10:45 sharp. By 11:15 we’d served everyone with their midmorning break. Then we took a fifteen-minute cigarette break. Mrs Hope always joined us in the staff room: One day she asked us a question ‘Do you know why this car park is so small?’ None of us had an answer: ‘It’s because very few family members come to visit’. She put out her cigarette, looked around and said ‘And that is why you have to give your very best to the residents. No matter how difficult, we have to show them love and caring. Yes! You have problems every day, but you have to make our residents feel wanted, and you’ll have an easier life’.
Of course, some people do travel to see their loved one: And if you are one of these people, then the article should not concern you. Or it could make you angry! Because, if you are clear-minded, you’ll already know the accuracy of the observation.
The second part of the article is about Albert: He was an eighty-year-old resident who became a friend. I’d wheel him out to the pub, buy him a pint and give him a cigarette. I learned plenty about Albert. He’d started the family business: paid for his children’s education. Provided for their needs and signed over the company to his two sons. Not only this, he’d signed over his beautiful house to his oldest daughter to avoid death duties. He was lead to believe he’d be able to stay in the family home until he died. He stayed there for seven months. One evening, he was taken to the residential home and forgotten. He’d not seen them for over two years. I recall this because Albert is long gone and I’d bet his children are either in residential homes or dead by now (this was over 40 years ago). But I’ve never forgotten Albert: he was a sharp and intelligent man, who knew full well the selfishness of his children. ‘Are you heartbroken Albert?’ I asked ‘No, disappointed that I did not bring them up properly. It must be my fault I’m here’. How sad the answer.
I asked Mrs Hope if she knew why Albert was admitted to the residential home ‘His children claimed they could not help with his diabetes and could not accept the responsibility. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with self-treatment does he Ian’ she cynically replied.
Take this article as you like: If you don’t like it, so what? But before you leave: answer the questions:
With government and millions of people using older adults as the reason for lockdowns, and millions being spent on tests and vaccines: what exactly has changed? Most people couldn’t give a monkey about the millions who live alone and live in residential homes before the crisis. So what has changed? Why do they ‘care’ all of a sudden? Is it because they are frighted for their own life?
Why can’t people give the old and frail the dignity deserved? Why can’t people realise how small-minded and selfish their words? Millions of older people are left alone, ignored and forgotten for years before they die: looking at the same interior for months on end. They know no one cared before: they see through the lie.
And yes! Many care staff and workers give their all, for pennies and the reward of giving. There are many Alberts and millions of lonely old people who all of a sudden listen to millions of strangers saying they ‘care about the aged’. The carestaff see through the lie too. All know the truth of old age and neglect.
Tell Me: What has changed? Most people didn’t think of their deaths twelve months ago. The governments and local authorities took their savings and homes to pay for care. What have they done to help them, and protect them? Well, they have locked up the population! The irony! You now know how the old and sick feel: helpless and imprisoned. What exactly has changed? An astute mind will realise the truth.
And the question:
‘Are many residents lonely’
‘Nothing has changed’