The cries came from across the hall from my brother’s room. He heard them first. “There’s a woman crying, I hear a woman crying. She’s calling for help and saying, “Somebody please help me, won’t somebody help me.’
I went out to see and there she was, sitting in her wheelchair, in the doorway of her room, sobbing. The tears were streaming down her face. When I went over to her she stopped crying and said, “My name is Patricia …… I need someone to help me.” I could not understand what the problem was so I went in search of a nurse. The nurse responded with, “Yes, we are sending someone to her room. She is very confused.”
I returned to wait with Patricia. No one came and she started to cry again. I looked down the hall and saw two other nurses leaning on the wall, visiting with other, so I walked down there and said, “The lady needs help, she is very distraught.” Both of them then went to her, talked calmly and brought her to be with other people who were sitting in the hall near the elevator. A short time later when we walked by her, she was still crying, albeit more softly.
In the past five months, I have had the opportunity to observe three hospitals and three “care centers”. All of them are care centers, in that they give care to people with various needs. The hospital where my daughter fought for her life and the Medical staff brought all their expertise, equipment and technology together to give her that life. and the one where my brother was taken to recover from his stroke were bigger than the one I was in for 5 days but each one did their best. The thing about hospitals is that there is an expectation that the patient will recover sufficiently to go home.
Each of the care centers my brother has been in have different agendas. While in the hospital, he was visited by the Rehab Doctor and assessed as one who might be able to be rehabilitated to some degree. The Medical Doctor disagreed but the Rehab Doctor won and Orval was sent to the Rehab ward in Queens Park. There he was given regular exercise and in a few weeks he was sent to the PATH wards, which is the path to the door, to wherever the Doctors feel you are ready to go. It may be home, assisted living or residential care, but it is somewhere other than the care center.
The next place is where he is now, Yale Road Centre, waiting for placement in a Residential Care facility. Since the stroke, he can’t remember what he had for breakfast, who came to visit or what day, year or month it is. He does not think for himself, would not change his clothes or bath if he was not helpd with it. He can only walk with a walker but hecause he has fallen, the staff want him to use a wheelchair.
The Yale Road Centre has 6 floors. Most of the patients have their meals served in the dining room, according to the schedule. They eat in shifts, 2 floors at a time.. Because my brother is on the 4th floor I am most familiar with the happenings there. There are no activities other than a small TV in the social room, so most of the people sit in chairs or in their wheelchairs right near the elevators. In fact sometimes it is hard to get off or on the elevator without moving people out of the way. The people are old and slow moving, mostly in wheelchairs, although there are some with walkers or canes.
At mealtime the nurses bring the patients down so there is some activity but then there is a long wait as one by one each person has their food brought to whatever table they’ve been seated at. One lady sings, she has a very nice voice. She is now seated at one of the last tables. Her husband lays his head on the table or hides his head in his hands. Before I knew he was the husband of the singer, I thought he was seated there and wished he wasn’t, so I went over to him and talked to him. He wants to go to his home and have help come in but “they” won’t let him.
One lady has a large, stuffed, orange and white kitty cat. It looks like a “dead” stuffed cat but she loves and cuddles it. One man whose name is David, maintains that they are all prisoners and by law they can all walk out the door. He did it once and when the police were called they said he was right, but somehow he’s back in there. He ranted and raved at me today because I refused to let an old lady come on the elevator with me. There are signs in the elevator not to let patients get on without the nurse. Although the outside door opens with a code, it’s easy to go out with someone when the door opens. The nurse heard the ruckus and came there. I told David the lady could get lost and he said it was her right.
I don’t know how we can do better but I think we need to try. When I look around the Centre I see people with no more prpose. I don’t know how many have families. I see some people being fed or sat with at mealtime. I assume that some are family. Others do not seem to be so fortunate. Maybe their families live a long distance away. I feel for the people who are confused, they do not know the strangers around them. My brother seeks reassurance when we leave, “You will be here tomorrow won’t you? I don’t know what I’d do without you.” “yes, we’ll be here tomorow!”