I work in Care Homes, and these stories relate to the first care home I ever worked in, as well as some after.
When I first started working in care, I worked in what looking back was the worst care home ever known to man.
As freaky as it was, the residents were lovely. That being said, it was for people with very, very advanced dementia.
When I went for my interview, a lady came into the nurses station and told me off for being late. I didn't know her from Adam and when she gave me a brownie wrapped in a tissue I just assumed she was the lady in charge and had given me a cake.
It turned out that wasn't a brownie. Well it kind of was but not the one I thought it was.
Also the lady who gave it to me was not a member of staff but a resident. A former pub landlady at that. Wherever she was at on her journey with dementia she thought I was bar staff late for my shift.
Anyway, I got the job in care. The woman who interviewed me asked why I wanted to work in care and I explained I had seen MacMillan nurses look after my Mum but there was no way I could be a nurse as I am NOT doing catheters. No thank you.
So my first day on the job. I walk in and there is a lady sat in the corner doing the biggest high kicks you ever did see and singing the can can.
I'm told to watch the "Conservatory" which is just a big room everyone gets to come and sit in. I say come and sit but actually no one has a choice. You just come. And sit. And I watch you.
So I've been there a few days and I ask if I am allowed to do anything with the residents.
I'm told today is Balloons and Feather Bowers.
What's that you ask?
You put feather Bowers on the residents and knock a balloon about. The lady who does the can can is top notch at kicking the balloon. But why is that all be done?
Once I am settled into the job I'm "allowed" to leave the Conservatory and get my hands busy.
That means actually helping people get ready for the day. I'm told off because I take too long getting Doreen ready. (I put her hair in rollers and matched her outfit).
Fast forward. I've been there a few months. I've grown very close to an elderly man called Gordon. He has no family, and he is the most cantankerous person you ever met, but not with me. I call him Grandad which he loves and I make him laugh. He gets very ill, and I go and see him on my days off. One night I went to see Gordon and when I entered his room his bed was empty.
I came out of his room and when I looked left I saw Gordon at the end of the corridor. I went to chase him down as I was scared he would go down the stairs and fall. When I rounded the corridor Gordon was gone. I checked the bedrooms along that corridor and then ran to get a nurse as I thought he might of fallen down the stairs.
Concerned, I went to tell the nurse in charge who hadn't chosen to tell me Gordon had passed and left hours earlier.
A few weeks later, a lady called Eileen was end of life. It was very sad as she was one to one and spent her whole time rubbing her hands together and making clicking noises with her tongue.
When my colleague went into work that day she saw Eileen at the top of the stairs looking well and told the nurse Eileen was at risk of falling down the stairs. Eileen had passed the night before.
Once I left that home, I moved to work for a large care provider.
In one home, the dementia suite was based on the ground floor. The corridors were lined with wooden hand rails and one resident would hook his walking stick on the hand rail and walk along to room 21 to see who he thought was his 'wife'. This lady was cared for in bed and he would go inside and lock the door so we had to keep checking on them both.
The gentleman died suddenly, and after he did we would hear the sound of his stick banging on the wooden handrails. When we would check on the lady, her door would be locked just like he used to do, and the sensors would often go off even when she was still in bed and sleeping. It stopped after a while. I'd like to think he realized where he was and that she wasn't his wife after all.
Finally, I was working at a new build home in Bromsgrove setting it up for opening. This was a couple of years ago now. All of the home has secure key pads to make it safe and so residents with dementia can't access stairwells and fall etc. I was on the second floor, and the home was still being worked on to be ready for opening. As I looked down the corridor I saw a young girl running away from me. I went after her as I was concerned how she got up there alone. I checked everywhere and she was gone.
I went down to speak to the site manager and tell him what I saw. I was concerned someone had left a child up on that floor as she didn't look old enough to understand how the keypads work to get back down. He just laughed at me and said that builders had seen what I saw for months. The home was built on the site of a former children's home.
Once the home opened, the dementia suite was based on the ground floor. One resident would refuse to sleep in her room at night and become really upset at the 'Black children' keeping her awake. As she had dementia lots of the carers wrote it off as a hallucination or something, but knowing what I had saw I asked her what actually happened.
She said that a black child would wake her up when she was sleeping, so she preferred to sleep in the lounge.
A few months later, a new resident moved in to a residential suite and she had worked in the children's home. When I took her around the home to settle in she told me about the children's home. She said there had been a separate room for black children, and it had been exactly where the lady who got upset room was. I didn't ask anymore as it wasn't professional to do so but I wish I had.