annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Scene: a care home, Friday afternoon

(I changed all the names apart from my Sam, but this was this afternoon. I wanted to capture it)

Front room. Len, a new member of staff, end of his second week, is down on the floor making a big 'Welcome' sign - a collage of sparkly stuff he's sticking to a board which already has residents' palm prints in poster paint round the edge. I look for Sam's - hers is a smudge as her hands no longer stay open unless you hold the fingers. Len has all the makings spread out around him. Sam and two other residents are dozing in their wheelchairs as Ben tells me he's loving the job - he used to be a builder till he was hit by a drunk driver a few years ago and has been in rehab ever since. Now he wants to give back. I notice that yes, his head is covered in deep scars. Mary is out of her chair wriggling about on a giant lime green floor cushion, bursting into fits of spitting and giggles of pleasure at being able to squirm about, clapping her hands and shrieking. The dog is asleep, pressed against my foot. She's OK here, but Mary is being quite loud and she needs to feel me close by.

From the next room we can hear Dwayne's on the ipad, picking tracks of music and playing it loud. He's the most competent of the residents - no-one else can makes those kinds of decisions, let alone work the ipad, but he won't play a whole song and is driving us mad, changing track after ten seconds every time. "Dwayne! Let it play! Stop changing it!" rings out regularly but it's not until he's warned that the ipad will be taken away that he lets a song play right through. We're on Abba now, after mass complaints about too much Agadoo.

Carla arrives with handfuls of pebbles from the beach for Leanne who's making sensory boards. She shows me the ones she's done - framed collections of different textures, sponges, reeds, halved tennis balls, pom poms.

From the kitchen comes the waft of chicken tikka being cooked from scratch by Laura, the spices and onions, the rhythmic sound of the knife on the board as a mountain of chicken breasts are diced.

Leanne is being trained to give meds so Pedro watches closely as she gives Sam her paracetamol and water, flushed through her feeding tube. Sam's been asleep since I arrived and up since 10 this morning so I suggest she goes to bed, where she'd be more comfortable. Leanne and Carla take her to her room, discovering that the end of her catheter tube has detached from the bag so she needs 'personal care' or PC, which means intimate washing and changing of clothes, so I return to the lounge while they deal with that. It's quite peaceful now as Dwayne has settled on Dolly Parton for our soundtrack and is in the kitchen watching Linda cook dinner.

Pedro checks the rota for me and tells me that Tina will be available tomorrow to help me take Sam to the woods - if they both want to go. Sam's not often clear about what she wants these days, but if Tina is up for it I'll take her - unless she's clear about not wanting to go.

Now she's in bed, snoring gently and I'm sitting next to her, writing on the two sheets of printer paper I helped myself to from the office. I come here a lot and can pretty much do what I like, really. Many of the staff are far from home and miss their families. Pedro, shift leader today, is a very tall man from Bolivia, in his 30s I reckon, with hair in a man-bun and a long beard that he's twisted through some wooden beads at the front. Today he's also wearing a headband with cat's ears. Sometimes, on days when he's not shift leader, he sits in the lounge and plays melancholy tunes on a guitar.

It's a good place. If you have to live in a care home, this is the one. The other five residents have gradually returned while I've been writing - they've all variously been off out for the afternoon, maybe on a jaunt somewhere fun, or to a medical appointment, a day centre or perhaps the supermarket shop. The rules of confidentiality mean I don't know as much as I'd like, but this place is about giving everyone the best life possible, not just containing them. I can hear Martin calling from his room, "Dwayne! Dwayne!" He can speak odd words, especially names and Dwayne is his best pal. Martin is fifty and Wayne in his forties.

I still hate it. We all do. You'd hate it if your daughter or sister had to live here, Maybe not if she'd been born disabled, but if she'd once been bouncy and gobby, clever and funny...

The ones that eat (all but Sam and Ryan) are being gathered for dinner. I hear Carla say, "Hello, darling," warmly to someone. Another voice calls, "Hey, Martino! M

i bambino!" and Martin gives a deep chuckle. Agadoo comes on the stereo again and the staff all join in, bellowing "Aga doo doo doo, push pineapples shake the tree..."

I've almost used up all the paper and it's time to go. I have some squid in the fridge I bought earlier to take home and cook for my dinner. Sam sleeps on, still snoring. It could be worse. It could be much worse.



11:51 p.m. - 12.07.19


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