Not Exactly A Tray Of Sunshine

| Right | October 21, 2015

(I work in an assisted living facility. We take care of elderly people who are no longer able to do everything for themselves, but are not completely incapable of overseeing their own care. I’ve only been a caregiver at the facility for about two months, and this particular resident moved into the facility about a month ago. Because of the way the facility is set up and the work they like to start new people on, I have never seen her before and have only entered this resident’s room because the caregiver assigned to her is busy, and the receptionist noticed she missed breakfast and wanted someone to check in on her. It has also snowed heavily a few days ago, something that rarely happens in our area and that road maintenance is completely unequipped to handle, so road conditions are poor and have been so for a few days.)

Me: “[Resident]? Good morning. You didn’t come down for breakfast. Can I bring you a tray?”

Resident: “No. You can take this one out.”

(She gives me a tray from her dinner the night before.)

Resident: “No one ever takes my tray in the evening. I don’t know if you’re all lazy or what, but something needs to change. No one ever checks in on me.”

Me: “I’m sorry about that. I’ll see about leaving a note to help remind everyone to come in and check on you.”

Resident: “Well, what I want to know is why they need to be reminded at all? It can’t be that you’re all bad employees. And if it is then you should have been fired a long time ago.”

Me: “I don’t know why someone would need a reminder. It could be that they haven’t added you to the list of residents to check in on yet. I don’t know how often it’s updated.”

Resident: “I’ve been here a month. When are they going to add me?”

Me: “They might have done so already. That was just a guess. Are you sure you don’t want breakfast?”

Resident: “Yes. But can you see about getting me [medication]? I only have one dose left. My daughter usually picks up my refills from a [Drug Store] in [Town], but her car can’t drive in the snow. There isn’t anyone else in the area who can get it for me.”

Me: “I’ll ask a nurse about it and see what we can do.”

Resident: “Good. I’m suffocating here.”

(At this point the receptionist phones the resident’s room. I haven’t contacted them fast enough to let them know I’m checking in on the resident, so they ask if the resident needs anything for breakfast.)

Resident: “No! I don’t want a tray. You people charge [amount] for each one you bring up and I’m already paying [amount] a month to live here and you haven’t even added me to your list.”

(She paused to listen to the receptionist again.)

Resident: “I don’t know. Just make sure this doesn’t happen again.” *hangs up phone*

Me: “W-well, is there anything else you’d like me to do for you while I’m here?”

Resident: “Yes. Would you get me some coffee and a glass of water. There’s a machine in the kitchen.”

(I fetched her coffee, at which time I couldn’t help but notice that given the state of her kitchen, she either lied about her daughter’s inability to drive in the snow or was completely capable of getting to the kitchen and handling all of the equipment in it. Pouring drinks is a minor request, and she already seemed to be in a bad mood over insufficient care, so I still got her coffee, but we’re supposed to leave tasks that a resident can do for themselves to the resident. If we always did everything for them, they could lose certain capabilities from disuse. After I left her room, I tracked down the list of residents and level of care they required. Her name was on the list, as was the explanation for her room tray problem. As per her request, no one was allowed in her room roughly 15 minutes after we typically deliver dinner trays. Those 15 minutes are also some of the busiest of the shift. The only thing preventing her from getting her tray removed was her unworkable demands.)

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