Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Penny Drops

A couple of days later, he was safely tucked on the couch with a blanket, snoozing after lunch, almost as I had left him, so that is good.

But there is a back story behind this Saga of the Falls in the Dining Room which I have written about repeatedly lately  , along with the issue of whether being strapped in a wheelchair was a good solution. I woke up at 5 this am, thinking, Oh! That’s bizarre.

But where to start?

Perhaps where I left off yesterday. The truth sometimes requires a look at details.

Don had been at lunch, which is served from 12 to 12.30 at the latest. Usually 12.20. When I got there at 1.45, he was sitting sadly alone in the dining area, scraping away at his empty meal plate.

What I realised this morning was, that to help him up, I had a bit of a tough time to push and pull the table and his chair apart so he could stand.  Then he was afraid to go into the lounge area, saying “I’m not allowed in there.” And when he got to the couch, promptly fell asleep, even snoring.

This is a for-profit care home contracted by Island Health to look after our elderly and ailing. The chain, Retirement Concepts, was bought by Anbang, a Chinese investment company, in a sale approved by the federal govt.

The assets of Anbang are now administered by the Chinese government while its chairman lingers in prison for fraud. Billions in assets are for sale.

This particular care home, Comox Valley Seniors Village, has been running without a Director of Care for 2 months and without a General Manager for many more. There is no visible management on the site to hear concerns.

I have talked repeatedly to the LPNs and the occasional RN who are supervising the care aides. Apparently residents in this Special Care ward are not supposed to be left alone when eating, for obvious reasons. And I have asked again and again that he be offered the option of a nap after lunch if he was up early in the morning. My concerns were documented and sent to management (or somewhere?) according to the nursing staff.

The care aides on that day were 2 casuals and one regular.

The rest of the penny dropped this morning, when I remembered one of the care aides mentioning that Don had been up and wandering away during lunch. (Mealtimes in this ward can be hilarious: just as staff get one resident seated, another wanders off.)

Probably not so funny for care aides who deal with this constantly.

So someone pushed the chair and table so tightly together that wandering off was impossible. And then he was left there in the empty room for well over an hour after the meal was over.

Unauthorized use of restraint? Sure seems like it to me.

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The problem is better but clearly not solved.

Sitting in the lunch room alone about quarter to 2. Sleepy and dazed.

About 10 minutes later, after we moved to the couch.


Afterwards I learned that he had been up since about 10 this morning, so it was time for a nap. If i had known i would have taken him to his room, if I could get staff to unlock the door.

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Joy in my heart

It may be too early to rejoice but tonight I am.

It has been an interesting week. No falls, and a guy no more cognescent of his surroundings, no more able to recognize people, but still brighter eyed, more present.

I attribute this to a team, each contributing with his well being at heart.

The nurses and LPNs are now on regular shifts, so they know him, and suggested cutting his older heritage meds, since he hasn’t been dangerous and paranoid lately.

Our family doctor immediately agreed.

The care aides suggested he was tripping on his shoes and suggested removing them at least for now. They also became vigilant about letting him sleep in – sometimes til after lunch- or else coaxing him to nap in the afternoon.

The rec staff know their dancer well and are ensuring he gets stimulation. Today another resident’s wife brought in a marvelous quilt, decorated with sensual and visual variety, from ribbons and buttons to lace. He remained engrossed, stroking and feeling and folding for over an hour.

And we his family in town – his son and daughter in law and me – also share the load of visiting everyday at the danger time after lunch, observing and asking questions. Showing how very much we cared about his care.

It all seems to be adding up to a guy who is more calm and less stricken as this disease weaves its deadly way.


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Time to write, time to act

Got to the care home about 2.30, expecting to find him somewhere in the scheduled concert in the next ward. But the rec staff said they tried but he was sleeping.

I went in to the ward anyway, just kind of hoping to sit with him awhile. Didn’t realize they meant sleeping in the dining room.

To my surprise he was standing, in the semi dark, wavering, wavering, his eyes kind of closed, saying “I don’t know, I don’t know” with his buddy, another guy in the ward, weaving in and out around him.

Seriously an invitation for … a fall for one or both of them.

First step was to get some … cognition? awareness? buy in?

After a few passes, literally,  he sort of opened his eyes and saw or felt me and held me in a long close hug, eyes still closed, saying “oh thank god you’re here.”

Then he was off again. Asleep on his feet. Gone away. I tried  to entice him to come with me but he no longer knew me and stood stubbornly; I understood him be saying that the chair he was grabbing was what he wanted,  “I will be fine here.” His safety.

It took a while and  an aweful lot of sweet talk but eventually step by step by negotiated step I got him into his room. And with a slight bit more effort into bed. About 5 minutes later he was snoring and sleeping still 4 hours later as I write this.

The quality of care is mostly excellent, and the casual care staff who helped was totally excellent but this was an accident averted because I was there at the right time.

I can’t always be there. Accidents will always happen, especially with dementia – the journey into the great unknown – but sometimes they can be averted. That is, as I see it, surely the care home’s job.



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