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Scene 3: 'We should do more with the residents'

Updated Monday, 12th January 2015
Katherine explains in this podcast why her mother had to enter full-time residential care. She also expresses her surprise at the way the care home is run. 

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SCENE 3 “We should do more with the residents” 
The care team that were looking after mum were very good. But they couldn’t be there all the time, and mum was getting very confused in the evening and the night time. She kept ringing up the GP, and the GP would then ring me – and I couldn’t just drop everything because I work full time – and drive for three hours – to give my mum the full time care that she needed. That’s what drove me to persuade mum to go to the Laurels full time. She’d liked it when she stayed before and they had a place available. and. 
We moved her in on the Friday and I went in the next day to see how she was settling in.  
One of the first things I noticed was that the place seemed a bit dead, but as soon as dinner was announced, all the residents almost rushed to get to the dining room. But it wasn’t an inspiring experience. No one really spoke! And it was all minced food, not the sort of food she is used to. 
I can’t eat this– this isn’t what I like – where’s my proper food – where’s my knife and thingy? I like a nice piece of meat or fish – I don’t want this – oh dear – where’s my food? Where’s that nice girl – the one I saw before – what’s her name – you know – the – oh dear – what’s her name – I want her where is she? Help me someone, help me. 
I’m here Louise…it’s Rick, now let’s have some of this while it’s nice and hot… (FADES)
I think that we should do much more with the residents. We say that this is their home and we are their family – or this is like one big family – but we never even sit down and have a drink with them. I think that sharing mealtimes together could be good.
Are you going to eat something dear? Why don’t you come and sit here with me? Come on love, I’ve cooked this for you and it’ll get cold. Why can’t you come and eat something? Oh dear – you must be starving. 
Come on Louise, that’s your dinner love…come on eat up… (FADES)
After a full morning of it, I want a break and I want to be on my own or with another carer, I really don’t want to be with the residents when they’re eating as well and I don’t like the food they eat – it’s not what I would choose, no way! 
We had discussed the possibility but on balance eating together isn’t really a practical option. There are residents who can’t feed themselves and who we need to help and even those who can feed themselves still need to be watched. Some of them just swallow their food without chewing, and they could choke. Of course everyone here has been trained to do the Heimlich manoeuvre and we’ve got a suction machine out there – just there in the hall so we’re fully prepared.
My main objection though is that it’s not professional. Of course, we all get fond of some residents – even the most demanding ones - but at the end of the day, we’re here to care for them all. And to be able to do that job well I believe our staff have to keep a certain level of detachment.
What residents really benefit from though is family support - Jack for example, comes in every day and he and Dot eat together in her room – where it’s private – and he can help her if need be.
That’s why we encourage family members to stay at mealtimes if at all possible. 

Go to Scene 4: "Safety has to come first" >>

This podcast or article is part of the Dementia care: Louise's story collection and has been produced to give an account of what dementia care is like for the individual, the family and health and social care professionals. 

As an extension of the podcasts, articles and also your own personal experiences, you may like to have your say in our Dementia care discussion forum and hear other users' opinions on the everyday issues that occur with caring for someone with dementia.



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