Once again I find myself emotionally strung out and numb. I figure I have too much going on.
There is my “day job,” my life’s work of nurturing, and editing our magazine as it slowly grows to maturity.
There is the advocacy I want to do on health needs in the Valley and beyond.
There are the tiny raised beds I want to spend the summer in communion with.
And most troubling of all, there is my perpetual work as a caregiver trying to guard my love in his few last years from the outrageous fortunes of living in a for-profit care home.
Just as we – a group of family from the dementia ward – thought we had got action from Island Health and the corporation on its neglect during a norovirus outbreak, just as a new manager was rolling up his sleeves to deal with a backlog of inaction, just as a new Director of Care was hired to address the multitude of issues which arise when staff are left to cope by themselves for 8 months, just as we all, family and staff, were looking to better days, Head Office blunders in.
They announce with no discussion or consultation with anyone local, that all staff must re-apply for a new schedule, one which supposedly provides more full time jobs. The staff, who have lives and need their personal balance, are focussed on the fewer weekends. Several have just quit.
Worse, corporate headquarters announces a 5-week rotation from ward to ward, which for dementia care is… well, insane, and a prescription for disaster: falls, fights, resistance and over-medication, because it takes time for care staff to know each person and how to deflect with respect (because the residents may be demented but they are very intuitive), and talent, and rare incredible skill to work well with the demented.
That is why sometimes when confronted with my love in full sundowning flight, I flee! Sometimes I stagger home and go to bed for a few hours.
Tonight another wife who is a friend was there which was comfort because the ward was all over the place. Noisy, everyone telling tales in their own crippled communication … it really was bedlam.
Fortunately the staff on tonight were seasoned and skilled. They projected calm enjoyment as they paid quick attention to each person, using different attitudes and language with each one. Not bad when you have 8 people each to care for.
These are the frontline workers we should honour.
They make my many horses seem a pleasure.