Mum was in good spirits when I visited her yesterday. She was still a little on edge and found it difficult to sit still for long, but she was cheerful and seemed a little more engaged than recently. For once, I left the home without that familiar pang of regret that my visit hadn’t somehow brightened Mum’s day.
Chatting to the staff, I was again left in awe of their patience and resilience. One resident was looking for her mother and was becoming quite distressed. The lady in question is nearer 100 than 80 years old. The member of staff was kind, concerned and gently allayed the lady’s fears. She never once challenged the conviction that the lady’s mother had gone missing. It takes a special kind of person to do this.
It isn’t just a sympathetic ear that’s an essential skill for the job of carer, though. I spend quite a lot of my time listening to people but I don’t think I could ever be a full-time carer in a residential care home. Helping people live their everyday lives, in every aspect of those lives, is demanding and requires a special kind of patience. It isn’t until you see these people at work that you realise quite how special that patience is.
One of Mum’s carers left the home for a new job last weekend. She was upset to be going and didn’t want to dwell on her goodbyes. I’m sure Mum will miss her and I, part of the extended family of the home, will miss her too. I am so grateful to the staff who make Mum so safe. We don’t honour these people as we should because most of their work is unseen to all but those whose loved ones live in our care homes. I wrote in an earlier post about speaking at a “Dignity in Care” conference. Mum might not have much of her previous life left, but she has her dignity and for that I am truly grateful.