Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sharing is caring

What to do in the case of a very elderly gentleman, whose congestive heart failure is seemlingly getting the better of him? He has lived one of the most colourful lives I have come across, and is a brave man - born in the 1920's to a caring yet stoic mother and father, who unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to relinquish the care of their son to an institution (once politely named "Janefield Colony for Mental Defectives"). His "defect"? An intellectual disability and schitzophrenia. I came to know him 13 years ago, when I began working in his home as a disability carer. And over those years I have laughed, cried and on many occasions been left speechless by the amazing tales he has shared.

As this enduring old man makes his way through his ninth decade of life, the question is: to allow him to live out his remaining days in his own home, surrounded by people (carers and co-residents) who genuinely love him and would do anything to make him feel comfortable and safe. Or, give in to bureaucracy, and let those with higher ranks make the decision to move him to another group home or nursing home, where people don't know him and aren't familiar with his own little quirks, or alternatively do not have the staffing to allow the time and patience required to help him through his days?

This is the position I, and my co-workers, are finding ourselves in at present. For the past month I have gone to every shift wondering whether this man, who is like family, is still with us? On one hand, I am hoping that he is still battling on and telling his amusing stories, but on the other - wishing that his heart has taken its final beat whilst he is with familiar faces and those who cherish him.

My quote for the day - "Home IS where the heart is". Not where convenience and cost dictates.....

Enjoy your evening!

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