So this week I've been working in a retirement home and so have been spending a lot of time with some pretty amazing elderly people. Let me tell you this: These guys have lead extraordinary lives!
To be completely honest, I wasn't too thrilled about working in a residential home. The thought of having to clean after people and help with their personal hygiene and other problems put me off. Please though, don't get me wrong. I am not a stuck up person who refuses to clean up after people. But believe me, being stuck in hospital on a ward full of elderly people who have no control over their bowels made me realize that, as much as I admire them, I would never be able to become a nurse. I'd rather not go into any details, but as soon as I saw a nurse wheel the commode about and those curtains being drawn, I knew what to expect but couldn't bare it at all, even though this literally happened every 20 minutes for the 3-4 days I was in.
However, I wasn't sat in bed scowling, if that's what you're thinking. I just felt sorry for the patients. I mean, to think these ladies must have lead some great lives, accomplished many things and had respected roles and to have been so independent, to then grow old and have to rely on someone for EVERYTHING. Being stripped of your dignity without being able to do anything about it. It got me really upset if I'm completely honest with you.
So anyway, you should get the picture. Being in hospital made me realise that I could never work with the infirm. However, after speaking to my (brilliant) course tutor, he encouraged me to take up a position in a residential home, where the residents don't need help with personal care so much, but just need that little extra support, company and just an eye kept on them really. So I decided to give it a go. I am sooooooooooooo glad I did!
My first day at the home I felt so sick with nerves that I thought I'd get to the front door of the Home and either collapse or cry. You'd be pleased to know, I did neither. I went in and was received by the few staff members that were there with a smile, told to take a seat with them and asked if I'd 'like a cuppa'. "Ha, they're treating me like one of them!!" I thought. I knew I'd have a great time here!
I was shown around, helped out with a few things such as handing out lunch and cups of teas throughout the day and collecting up dishes. I also had a chance to get to know some of the residents. That was THE best part of the day. Learning about one resident in particular, with her telling me all about her past career in the childcare sector and how she had stood up to various authorities and made a difference to so many children's lives was amazing and so inspiring! It made me really think about what I'd like to do in the future, because from then on, I knew wanted to make a difference just like Milly (all names have been changed to protect confidentiality).
I also met a gentleman named Norman (again all names have been changed). Before I was sent up to give Norman his cuppa, I was told that he was 103 years old (I KNOW! Can you BELIEVE it??) and that he didn't take kindly to strangers. So, with the tea shaking in my hand, my heart palpitating, nervous sweat pouring off my face (well, ok, not really, but it adds effect eh?) I knock on Normans door and enter. I give him his cuppa and ask him if he enjoyed his lunch, to which he said "well, it was nice to a point but, I was very hungry" =P. I have a bit of a chat with him and realize he is such a lovely person. In fact, I think I could go so far as to say we get on like a house on fire! So, what a great accomplishment I felt I had....accomplished? But another thing that amazed me was that he doesn't even look a century and 3 years old (it's even cooler when you put it like that in't it?). He honestly looked in his mid 60's or early 70's MAX but even that's going a bit far. I'm telling you, he hasn't even got a wrinkle on him! Whatever anti ageing he's using I want it!!
The staff are also lovely!!! You know how some people in a new workplace can be really stand-off-ish and be a bit cliquey and make you feel a little bit isolated? Well, there is none of that here! They took me in straight away and have been brilliant. They also treat the residents beautifully, just like their own family, which is VERY hard to come by these days. And it's not just a front they are putting on for me, the residents can't stop saying how well they are being looked after and how they couldn't be anywhere better.
So, I hope you've enjoyed this post. I know it's a bit different to my usual entries but I really wanted to share with you what a great time I've been having. So, if any of you are thinking about working with the elderly, I say go for it! They are GOLD (....gold, always believe in your soooooouuul, you've got the power to know........ehhhmm.........sorry, couldn't resist =P).
Oh and a side note, on my first day I was having such a great time talking to the residents that I honestly COMPLETELY forgot about having my lunch! It was about 2.30pm when I ended up having it and that was only because a member of staff asked me whether I'd had my lunch yet. And you guys KNOW how much I looooove food, right? So, it must be good!
Keep smiling folks!