Monday, February 4, 2019

Rest homes and Weet-Bix

Traditional Kiwi cereal!

Am taking a break from the dreaded editing of a manuscript that will be the death of me.
Anyhoo.... I just spent a nice weekend in my home town, visiting my mother, who now lives in a rest home. I go down every couple of weeks and look forward to giving mum a day or two out-and-about. It may be temporary, her living there, it might not be, but I have the utmost respect for the caring and nursing staff who work with older people. One of the carers at the home gets Mum to dress in nice outfits and put on jewellery when she goes out with us. The other day when I went to get her to take her out, she was dressed up, even wearing make up and looked really, really good. Plus it made her happy.
When I was a teenager I worked as a kitchen hand in a rest home, and I enjoyed it. I liked the setting up the dining room for the meals, and the clearing up after, and working with the guy who washed the dishes and the chef. That was where I first saw people eating Weet-Bix like toast, with butter and jam. I went home and tried it. It’s not too bad!
At Mum’s rest home the other day I was chatting to a woman named Ivy and I asked her age, and she laughed and said she was 98.
Ninety eight? I said in disbelief.
She was mobile and compos mentis and she looked amazing.
Even more, she’s happy in the rest home. Here in NZ, workers in the aged care industry received a significant pay increase last year, and the woman who worked to get that pay increase was honoured for her work.
I guess until you are around older people in rest homes, you don’t realise how important it is. You hear stories of abuse – an aunt of mine is in a rest home she loves and speaks highly of, yet it has been in the media a few times for some bad errors of judgement. And its not plain sailing with Mum’s place either, there have been a few things that might not have been done right, where communication has been lacking between them and us, but I know staffing issues are difficult. Maybe now, more kind people will be attracted into the industry, who are rewarded for what they do which is looking after older folks who deserve respect and to live their last years as well as they can. Most of us are going to be there one day, after all. That’s what I remember from being seventeen years old and working weekends in the kitchen of the home. You never know what you post retirement years are going to be like, but you hope people will be kind, and I hope, even as a kid, I was kind to those folk. Even the perpetual complainers.
And before I forget, I will write a note to the rest home, and praise their staff and especially the ones who make mum feel good when they help her get dressed every morning, and put on her jewellery and lipstick, and make her feel a million bucks.
~ Joanne

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