Monday, August 28, 2006

Dad’s Goes into Long Term Care

Today is the day. We went over to the Manor and packed up his things. I had made the mistake of taking in suitcases on Friday. It disturbed him so much that the Manor staff take them and hid them. Lord knows he is agitated enough. I thought it would help him understand what is happening. I had so carefully prepared him. He had said, several time, that he isn’t getting the kind of care he wanted here in the retirement home. He tell me so many times that it is great in the beginning and now things had gotten worse. He does not understand that he is the one who had gotten so sick that they could not manage his care in a retirement home. We loved having him in the Manor. People are not as ill as in the nursing home and the care is similar to a luxury hotel. Now that he is refusing meals, baths and generally being so demanding on their time, he needs to move.

Leisureworld is a private institution. There is some confusion regarding public or private setting for care. The resident is subsidized a per deum amount, and then, should she or he choose to, they can put that towards a private room. This is essential for Dad. He is loud and is often awake at night. We cannot allow him to disturb someone else.

We managed to get Dad into the car with some difficulty. He is a tall man and, while he had lost weight, he still is a significant size. Brian drove the mini-van with Dad’s chair and luggage. I drove Dad in the car. The foyer is a lovely place. With a couple of couches and chairs, many flowers, donated by local florists, or grieving families, it is always bright and cheery. He cannot manage his walker and we had to find a wheelchair. He can barely lift his profoundly swollen feet and we had difficulties with the footrests. I wheeled him by the front desk, where II had previously completed almost all the paperwork. We passed the central courtyard. Filled with patio furniture, trees, mature plantings, it is quite nice. They had BBQs there in good weather. It is a peaceful place to visit.

Upstairs we went to Dad’s room. It is pretty stark. It is definitely a hospital-like setting. Bare floors, a simple hospital bed, pine-laminated wardrobe and two two-drawer dressers with a few nails in the walls for pictures. I wrote down a list of pictures to bring and hang up. They encourage families to help make the residents more at home. The window overlooks the front parking and courtyard. I will spend many hours gazing out. The curtains are a neutral brown colour, with a window that, thankfully, opened up in good weather or bad weather indoors. The sun shines into the room, making it bright and give more hope than we had a right to look forward to. I wisely do not take as many clothes in for Dad. He will never be outdoors again and never require a winter coat. We leave those things in our rental locker. He is not hopeful, nor optimistic, nor is he particularly pleased with being there. I take him on a brief tour of the dining room. There are two big dining rooms per floor, with an adjoining cafeteria for food preparations.

Today, Monday is the regular day for the doctor’s visit. There is one doctor for this floor. He usually does rounds with the Charge Nurse, visiting, briefly with each resident and noting their needs. The Charge Nurse can phone the doctor at any time and usually has a standing order for meds as required. The Charge Nurse and the doctor need to do an initial assessment of Dad and they ask me to leave Dad’s room. I stood in the hall.

Each resident has a framed plaque screwed to the wall outside beside his or her door. In this enclosure staff put a brief biography of the residents. It humanizes the person, who is often unrecognizable as the person they used to be. I read some of them as I waited for the doctor and nurse to finish. I prepared one, not as succinct as the others. I am usually accused of being to loquacious in my writing practice.

The Leisureworld brochure suggests that families bring in small personal items to make residents feel at home: pictures, family albums, calendars, TV, radio, etc. Many residents take things out of their rooms and lose them and items must be labelled. Some like to wander in other resident’s rooms and borrow items. This is difficult to control.

We declined to stay much longer, even though we are offered a meal. I thought it best he gets used to the routine, the room and the requirements of the institution. We leave him at dinnertime - hoping for the best.

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