Today was another initiation and another step into this new strange life where my love is not in our howlingly-empty house any more–the mysterious special residential care conference. I didn’t know what to expect but it is something scheduled once a year for all residents. Turns out, with no major complaints from me, still revealing in my new liberation, it demonstrated how institutional care should work.
To my relief, our family doctor was there when I ventured in to the conference room. I was quickly followed by two nurses, the dietician, the house pharmacist in charge of drugs, a recreational director, the house doctor, and a huge binder or two of notes and directives. I thought Seniors’ Health would be there too but I guess their job with Don is pretty well done until he needs other diagnosis. After all, we have had many home visits and lots of attention, to get us to this point.
Turns out the care staff collectively knew what he was eating, how much and how, what his bowel patterns were, that he had actually engaged in some specific group activities, what he was saying (where is Delores? Oh get thee behind me, Guilt) and how tired and sleepy he was. All gathered in case notes.
This was an eye-opener to me. They knew more about my love’s daily behaviours than I probably did when I was with him day and night. But they wanted to know what was normal behaviour for him and what was different in this new living situation.
And they were actively looking for solutions to problems, and for problems they could solve.
With the discussion, I felt welcome to participate and started to see how I could mold my skills and behaviours to help care for Don in different ways than at home or he will even imagine. (I will be looking for volunteer minstrels to wander through these special care wards –the more little outbursts of music the better in my opinion.)
After it all, our doctor and I wandered back through all the locked doors to have a visit with Don, who spoke earnestly and incomprehensibly on various subjects.
As I left, one of the care aides came out to discuss the music issue — they do have to balance the tastes of 20 people — and ended our discussion with her saying, cheerfully, when you come you just start singing and that will remind us.
It will work out to be the making the best of a very bad fate.
When I got home I feel asleep for 3 hours. I woke in regret, thinking about how healthy Don is other than the mind, and how many years I had expected to have where we would camp and travel and fish and hike, enjoying all the special spots across this great country.
Now I need to go write some notes of all the things I forgot to tell the staff during the meeting, not really expecting them to want to know –but they do.