Using disposable washclothes, right or wrong?

Today, at work, we had a presentation about using disposable washcloths. The idea is that, from now on, with every person who’s bedridden or needs to be washed in bed, we will be using these disposable washcloths.
There were a few points that they brought up that (according to them) are really important.

disposable washclothFirstly, these washcloths are a lot cheaper to use than normal washcloths and towels. One pack contains five washcloths and cost € 0,69. A quick search reveals that doing one load of laundry costs around € 0.92. So it appears to be cheaper. But how many washcloths and towels are in one load of laundry? Way more than 5, I can tell you that.

My second point is that they told us it was cleaner. While I can agree to that, the story was not all that it cracked up to be. They told us that we can use one or more packs a day. The clothes we don’t use can be kept up to 24 hours. After that we have to throw them out.
They have to be heated in a microwave. They’ve just told us that there are always germs all over the services we store things on and how it’s bad for older people to come into contact with those germs. So we put the package on a bedside table (germ ridden), open it, use what we need and store the rest in the bathroom. Then, when we need one again, we put the package (now germ ridden too) in the microwave and begin to wash again. After we’re done we put their food in that same microwave! When I pointed that out I got told that this wasn’t a problem as they were their own germs. This does not add up.

Thirdly, they told us it would be a lot quicker. They said we could safe 10 minutes on each client. Well, let me tell you this: I spend 10 minutes washing someone. No more. So, does this mean I can wash them in 0 minutes? It must be.

My fourth point is that they said people like the warmth of the cloth. Well, excuse me, but I never ever wash someone with cold water. I always use warm water and my clients are always happy with the temperature of the cloth! Towels I hang over the radiator to warm them up a bit before using. So again, I’m not convinced!

Fifth, they told us these clothes were tested against allergies. But they did not reveal the outcome of these tests. Now I might be way too suspicious, but I don’t trust any test results of tests carried out by people who had an interest in the product tested.

Fluffy TowelMy idea of these things is that they are just plain horrible to use. They smell terrible, they feel terrible (okay, I only felt them cold, but I did not like touching them). And I fail to see how such a product will help our clients to feel at home. They’ve been using normal clothes and towels all of their lives and now they suddenly need to use disposable ones?

So, do you have any experience with these disposable washcloths? Do you like using them? Either for yourself or for others? Because I do not look forward to using them.

I’d rather use a nice fluffy washcloth and towel over the disposable ones.

Changes

I’ve always thought I live a very boring life. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke. I don’t go out (health issues have always prevented me from doing that), I don’t have (many) friends. I’d love to change the last one, but I’m having trust issues, so that’s very hard.

Yesterday, when we were talking at work about what we did before we came to work there, someone suggested I had led a pretty interesting life up until now. I’m still not sure why she said that. Yes, I have worked in lots of different jobs (cashier, gas station attendant, butcher, cleaner and now a nurse), but does that make my life interesting?

It does make that I can change jobs pretty easily. I fit in in a lot of places. I can easily adjust to new work environments. But does that make me interesting I wonder, or is it just the things I did or do that are interesting?

This post is inspired by today’s Daily Prompt.

Lifebook

When my grandmother went to a carehome my dad got asked to make a lifebook for her. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s’ and the book would be a great way for staff to get to know her a bit better. And for her to look back on her life.

I’m writing this blog post in hopes to help people who are looking into making such a book for their relative.

What would be included in a lifebook?

  • Full name and preferred name (if needed)
  • Date of birth and place of birth
  • Photos and names (and birth dates/death dates) of other family members
  • Family tree
  • Photos of schooldays (if possible)
  • Photos and name (again with dates) of the spouse and children from the marriage
  • Places and houses the person has lived in (photos, maps)
  • Photos and names of much-loved pets
  • anecdotes about their life
  • Occupation of the person
  • Photos and names of friends
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Birth certificate can be included too
  • Favourite music
  • Letters

Why is all this important?

The full name and preferred would be already in the files of the nursing home where your relative is staying. But sometimes your relative will only listen to a pet name from their childhood. Many times that name is not recorded in the files. Make sure you included that name.

Date of birth and place of birth should, again, be in the files. But sometimes it’s hard to find out the exact place of birth. Maybe the village doesn’t exist anymore. Or maybe the records don’t show the right place of birth (it happens).

Photos and names of other family members are important. A person with Alzheimer’s travels back in time. They’ll start asking about people who have long since died. It’s nice to have photos and names at hand. A family tree will come handy for carers, as they can see how people relate to your relative.

Schooldays are a really important part of a person’s life. Teachers have probably had a great impact on a person’s life. Photos will bring your relative back to those days.

One of the most important days of your life. That’s how almost everyone describes their wedding day. Almost anyone has at least one picture of their wedding day. Makes sure not only to include pictures from the spouse (if not alive anymore) later on in life. They won’t recognize them anymore. Harsh but true. But they’ll know that boy in the soldier uniform or the lovely girl in the long dress is the person they are going to get married to. These picture are very important.
As for the children. If you are visiting and you tell your mother/father you are his/her daughter or son, it might happen that they don’t remember you. This will hurt, a lot. Talk to the carers about it. You’ll find they are talking about you when you’re not around. They see you as the little boy/girl you once were. the grown person who stands in front of them doesn’t look familiar. Although they won’t mind a cuddle, as they somehow know you are close to them. How they know? They have no idea, but they feel love if you’re around.

Include photos of much-loved houses your relative has lived in. Have they moved like a 100 times in their life? What would they choose as the most important place they lived in. Think the house they bought when they first got married, the house the children were born in. The house the last lived in.

Pets are a very important part of life. Don’t think about the guard dog that wasn’t allowed in the house, think of the cat whose kittens were born in front of the stove in the kitchen. Think of the lamb that had to be bottle fed every few hours. Those are the important ones.

anecdotes, things your relative might suddenly start talking about. My grandmother suddenly started talking about a family where she had worked when she was about 14. Nobody remembered anything about that family, only her youngest sister did. She shed some light on my grandmother’s  behaviour when she talked about this family. This family had a massive (negative) influence on her. She hadn’t talked about them for over 70 years, but she remembered.

I think you’ve now got a pretty good picture of the important things that might help your relative to remember. And help the carers to care for your relative even more.

I can’t do this alone. Who can help me?

Ask help from friends and family. As I stated above, asking your aunts and uncles is a great way to find anecdotes from their childhood. Things they might have never talked about. Ask the nursing home if other families have made lifebooks. Ask them if you can view those for ideas. Nowadays you can make great photo books online. Use those services to your advantage.

Maybe there are volunteers in your local area who can help you. Or maybe there are organisations that can help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lifebook isn’t something easy to make. It’s hard.

If you think you’re done, ask someone to go over your work. Ask them for input. It’s easy to include too much information. Maybe you’ve included stories that are important to you, but aren’t so much to your relative.

Is it really worth it to include negative parts of my relative’s life?

Yes, it is! Negative events are just as important as positive events. Let me tell you a short story.

In a nursing home where I worked was a woman who had severe dementia. The last few weeks of her life, when she was in bed, she was screaming and crying. The only thing we could understand were the words: “Don’t take him, don’t take him.” We had no idea what triggered this. And the only way to get her quiet was to give her a babydoll. When she didn’t have the babydoll in bed with her she would try to get out. We found her on the floor, on her hands and knees more than once, trying to get her babydoll.
We asked her daughters, she had 3 girls,  what she might be talking about. They had no idea and didn’t ask other family members for clues, despite us asking them to do so.
After the woman died, her brother dropped a bombshell on her daughters. It turned out that she had gotten pregnant when she was just 15 and had a baby boy in a home. That boy had been taken away from her right after birth. She had never spoken of this. Right until she died. When one of her daughters told us this news, we could finally understand her erratic behaviour towards the babydoll, who was, coincidentally, dressed in a blue jumper.

If the daughters had asked their uncle if he could shed some light on the womans behaviour this story would have reached us much sooner and we could have made sure she had that babydoll with her at all times. We might have been able to give it a name with her, making her feel more comfortable with this sad story. Sadly they didn’t and we tried to get that doll away from her on multiple occasions, for example when we needed to wash her or give her food. Which made her even more upset without us knowing.

So yes, negative details of someone life are important. Of course you don’t want the whole book to become negative, so don’t include too much.

I really hope this will help you make that lifebook for your relative. If you have tips, don’t be afraid to share them in the comments. I’d love to get as much feedback and tips as possible!

This post has been inspired by yesterdays Daily Prompt.

Daily Prompt: Quote Me

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

The first thing I thought of when I read today’s daily prompt was an all-time favourite quote of mine:

Ducttape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it keeps the universe together…

Now, I couldn’t possibly write a blog post about that, could I?
So, instead, I decided to grab a quote of my own, one that I life by, especially at work.

How do you want to be treated in a certain situation? Think about it and treat the person you are helping that exact same way.

When I’m at work, I always try to treat the clients the way I would want to be treated. It’s very simple to just go ahead and do stuff without thinking about any consequences for the person you are helping, but you need to look at the broader picture.

For example when a new client comes in who hasn’t had any help previously, you can just go ahead and shower them as you would normally do. But think about what it means to this person. She comes in a total new situation, hasn’t had any people to help her shower. Now she needs to undress in front of a stranger and give away any control about the situation they previously had to the stranger. How would you feel?

I’d feel terrible, I really would. So instead of just helping them shower, I acknowledge the fact that it is a new situation and I ask them questions about what they can do themselves, where do they need help, even asking them how to help them. It’s very simple, but oh so important. It makes people feel like they still have control over the situation. It makes them less anxious and less stressed. I always tell them it’s a new situation for me as well and that I need some time adjusting to it, just like them. It has made a lot of people feel much better about living with us.

Shop Etiquette

Since my previous blog post was on a very bad joke, that I’d heard many, many times before, I thought it would be nice to write something about shop etiquette. Most of the customers and staff behave perfectly okay. But there are some things that could be enhanced to make our (grocery) shopping a bit more pleasant.

Tips for customers:

  • Do not make obvious jokes to the staff. Asking a butcher if he has pigs’ feet/ears/nose might be very funny to you, but please, the staff has heard them all many times.
  • Make sure you have enough time to shop. If you’re in a rush, please stay away from the shops. Shopping costs a lot of time and nobody likes a customer racing around like it’s an F1 circuit.
  • Know what you need. You’ve probably been to your local store many times. You know the basic lay-out. So Make your shopping list accordingly. This will make your shopping less stressful, you won’t forget as much as you would when you have to go from one end of your list to the other. Plus, if everyone’s doing this, nobody is blocking things for another person.
  • Plan ahead. You know what you need. You should know what it would cost roughly, too. So please make sure you’ve got enough money on you or on your debit/credit card to pay for your shopping. It’ll save you a lot of embarrassment. “Oh dear… How much??? Uhm… yeah, I don’t have that much money. Can I put a few items back?” The staff has heard it all too often and will probably embarrass you even more by calling the manager and telling him/her just a tad too loudly: “Hey [name], my customer HASN”T GOT ENOUGH MONEY!” Yeah… embarrassing.
  • make sure you are in the right line. Is your line marked cash only? Or 10 items or less? Make sure you’ve got cash or 10 items or less. Nobody likes it if you make a fuss because you didn’t pay attention.
  • Don’t bring your kids with you. Yes, you read that right. Kids run off to everything they see. You can’t shop and pay attention to your kids at the same time. You’ll forget lots of stuff you really need or your kids might run off and pull on a display of glass bottles or run over someone’s foot with your cart. It’s very annoying to other customers, so just leave them home. It’s more economical too, as many goodies are placed on specific heights so kids will ask their parents to buy them. Not buying them will result in a tantrum many times.
  • Don’t leave your cart in the middle of the aisle and run off to get something. It’s very easy to do, but other customers will be annoyed by this very much. So, take it with you or push it to the side.
  • Don’t leave trash in your shopping cart. Now I know you’d rather not take all those cauliflower leaves home, but that’s why stores have trash cans. Use them. It’s the same for your receipt. If you don’t want it, leave it at the register. It’ll get wet, or it’ll fly away with the wind if you leave it in the cart you used. Or a bad person will get your details off it. There’s a lot of personal stuff on your receipt if you pay by debit/credit card.
  • Keep your distance. Nobody likes it if a cart gets pushed into your behind. You don’t like it either, so don’t do it. (I always sit down on the cart if someone does that, helps to get them away from me).
  • dress appropriately. Seriously, bikini’s are great for the beach, but you don’t go shopping in them. And don’t walk around barefooted. You really have no idea how many times there’s a broken bottle and you can’t expect the staff to pick up every shard of glass.
http://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/f1-rally-cart-3d-model/485000
Picture credit to Turbsquid.com

Tips for staff:

  • Be kind to your customers. Ultimately, they’re the ones that pay your salary. Remember this. And while you don’t have to take all the crap from them, a polite staff member is 100 times better than a rude one.
  • Take pride in your work. If you are happy with how your store looks, you’ll be happy in your job. This will reflect to the customers. And happy staff will mean happy customers.
  • Dress appropriately. Seriously, nobody likes looking at your asscrack with thong. So hoist up your pants and put a belt around them if they won’t stay in place. If you are wearing an apron, shorts are not the right gear. It’ll look like you’ve forgotten to put on pants this morning.
  • Keep your distance. Customers won’t like it if you’re all over them. It’s nice if you are trying to help them, but don’t jump on them as soon as they are through the door. Let them browse for a little bit first.
  • Clean up your trash. If you are restocking items, make sure to get the empty boxes from the aisle as soon as you can. Customers don’t like a cluttered store and will buy less if you don’t take the time to clean up your stuff.
  • Don’t make jokes to your customers. Some of them might like a bit of a joke. But saying: “Wow, somebody’s got diarrhoea.” when a customer buys a value pack of toilet paper is not funny. So don’t do it. Please…
  • Make sure the isles look full. Half empty shelves are a no-no. Place other stock a bit more spread out if you need to keep the shelves neat and tidy.
  • Make sure your prices are right. There’s nothing more annoying than finding out you’ve paid too much when you’re at home going through the receipt.
  • Do not put a discount sign up with products that aren’t. Many customers might not find out, but there are some who do. And word will get out. Now, with social media, even more than a couple of years ago.
  • Do not put your reputation up for grabs. Seriously, bad news about your store spreads much faster then good news. Remember this at all times!
  • If a new register opens, keep an eye on who was first. Most of the times people from the back of the line push their way to the front. Very annoying for other customers who’ve stood in line longer. Also, see who has more items. If the person in front has a cart full and the person behind it has only a couple of things, get this person to the front of the line. It’ll speed things up for everyone.

I hope these points will make our shopping experience a little bit better.

The butcher with the pigs’ feet

I’ve worked in a butchery for quite some time before I started working as a nurse (from one type of meat to an other…). Many customers thought they were very funny, when, really, they were not. This story is about one very annoying customer.

Our butchery was located in a grocery store. My boss hired the butchery from the store owner. I only started working in this location a few weeks before, but had worked in another butchery for the same boss for years.

Customer: “Butcher, do you have pigs’ feet?”
Me: “No sir, but I can order them if you’d like.”
Customer: “That won’t be necessary.” And he leaves.
A few days later, the same thing happens again. And it keeps happening twice a week for the next 3 months. Every time it’s the same customer. I try to keep being polite, but my answer shortens to a sighed “No”.

After 3 months of this obvious joke, which I’m not going to get along with, I’ve had enough. I decide to play my own joke. I call our supplier and ask for a pair of off-cut pigs’ feet. I explain why I need them and ask if they can provide a pair that can’t be sold for free. The supplier agrees. So the next morning, along with the rest of our order, a pair of pigs’ feet, neatly wrapped in foil, is delivered. I can see they’re no off-cuts, just beautiful pigs’ feet. But the receipt says I got them for free, so I’m happy with that. I place them on the counter and wait for the customer to show up.

When he does the usual game begins again.
Customer: “Butcher, do you have pigs’ feet?”
Me: “As a matter of fact, I’ve got them right… Here.”
I hold up the package containing the two pig’s feet. I make my way around the counter and practically push the feet in his face. He shreaks and tries to run off.
Me: “I ordered them especially for you, since you’re coming here twice weeks for the last three months. And every time you say you don’t want them…” By this time I’ve got him cornered.
Me: “…But since you keep asking for them I’ve gone ahead and ordered them for you.”
Customer: “But I…I… I don’t want them. It was a joke.”
Me: “A joke… Geez, how funny is that. Harrasing a butcher for three months. What a joke.”
Customer: “I thought it was funny, but you never said the right answer.”
Me: “You thought it was okay to come in here twice a week. To ask me every time if I had pig’s feet? For three months? You think that’s funny?”
By this time there’s a nice crowd watching. And I think the time is right to make my final move. I shove the pig’s feet in his jacket.
Me: “Now get out and take your damn pigs’ feet with you!”

The customer practically runs from the store. The package falls on the ground and I grab the package. I calmly walk around the counter again, while lots of the people who watched start laughing at this ridiculous guy.

Another customer comes up to me and asks for the package. She says she remembers her mother making soup from it and would really like to buy them. I give her the package and insist she takes it for free. I then go and grab a cup of tea. When I come back there’s a note and a tablet of my favourite chocolate on the counter.

I’ve gone ahead and asked around what you’re favourite chocolate was. I figured you needed it after all those months of trolling.

My faith in humanity got restored a bit by that note.

Macaroon Pudding

Mrs. L. was a tiny woman who came to live in the nursing home where I worked after her husband couldn’t cope with her Alzheimer’s anymore. When she came in she was walking, but within a few months she was in bed, unable to get out, stand or walk. She was lying in a fetal position most of the time. It was very sad to see her like that, with her husband on the side of the bed most days.

Mrs. L. rapidly deteriorated and eventually she couldn’t do anything herself anymore. She began to bite, scratch and pinch when she was unable to tell us what she wanted. She couldn’t talk anymore, couldn’t find any words. And we thought she didn’t understand us most of the time. I can’t even count the times I had bruises on my arms and hands. A coworker had to walk around with a black eye for a week when Mrs. L. managed to hit her full on the eye.

This particular sunday I was giving Mrs. L. her food. Despite being a tiny woman, she could eat loads and always enjoyed her food. At least, that’s what I thought. On the menu was chicken soup, meatloaf, cooked potatoes with carrots and macaroon pudding. Up until now I’d always told Mrs. L. what I was giving her, but I never ever felt like she understood what I was saying. So I decided I could get away with not telling her.

“Here’s your soup, Mina.” I said while I held the spoon in front of her face. She opened her mouth and the soup went down in no time. The meatloaf followed, as did the carrots. By the time I wanted to give her the pudding Mrs. L. tried to grab the spoon. I gently put her hands under the duvet as I really didn’t want to change the bedding again. I’d already done it that morning when she managed to grab the spoon with porridge while I looked to her roommate for a moment. Mrs. L. got angry and tried to pinch me. I tucked in the duvet so she couldn’t grab my hands or any other part of my body she wanted to grab.

“Open wide, Mina.” I told her. But Mrs. L. kept her mouth shut. I tried again. “Mina, it’s your pudding.” Still nothing. I could see she was getting tired and not only did she keep her mouth shut, her eyes were glazing over as well. I had to get that pudding in fast or else she wouldn’t get any pudding at all. So I tried one last time. “Come on, Mina, you won’t get any if you don’t open your mouth.”

And she did open her mouth. Then it happened…
Mrs. L. took one spoonful of macaroon pudding, opened her eyes and said: “Oh delicious, macaroon pudding.”

From that moment I always told Mrs. L. what I was feeding her. And when I found a portion of macaroon pudding lying around in the fridge I always took time to give her some. Even if it wasn’t time for food.

Weekly Writing Challenge: How do you tell her?

Before I became a nurse I worked as a cleaner for elderly people. They hired my employer and he send me to the job. By the time this happened my boss found out I was quite good at working with people who were (almost) blind. I had 4 clients, 3 of them were legally blind, although all 3 could see vague shapes in a well-lit room.

Mrs C. was a lovely old lady, almost 90 years old. She lived in an apartment close to a care home. Her meals were brought to her from the care home kitchen and she could join in with the activities organised by the care home. Mrs C. was quite a good sjoeler, despite being legally blind. She had no idea what she did, but she’d won the competition at least 4 time in the past few years. A few months ago her washing machine broke down and her nephew (she had no children) and I had decided it was best to let the care home do her laundry. She frequently over-filled the washing machine and once I stood knee-deep in foam when she managed to empty a whole bottle of laundry detergent into the machine. She wasn’t too happy about it, as it ment that she had to go and pick up her laundry every week, but when I promised I’d go with her for that walk she’d given in.

On this morning, it was around 10.30 AM, Mrs C. and I were on our way to the laundry room of the care home. She told me that a new neighbour was moving into the apartment next to hers. Her old neighbour passed away just a few weeks earlier and, as all deaths did to her, she was quite distraught by this. We picked up the clean laundry and walked back to her apartment, through the long, well-lit corridor. We passed a neighbour, recognized by Mrs C. as Mr V. “Good morning Mr V.” She said. “morning Mrs. C.” Mr V. replied back. By the door of the empty apartment Mrs C. saw another vague shape. As she wasn’t sure what the name of the new neighbour was she tried to be polite and said “Good morning”. The shape said nothing back. Barely 2 steps further she told me, just a tad too hard “Well, that’s not very nice. One could at least say good morning back.” I had a really hard time controlling my laughter, but managed to say “Shht, Mrs C. You can’t say that when you’re still in earshot. You have to wait a few seconds longer.” But I couldn’t tell her why the shape said nothing back. Because how do you tell someone she just said hello to a vacuum cleaner?

 

If you want to join in, go here.

Love

Normally I never ever say anything about my work and the people who I care for. But when this happened, I couldn’t help but want to share it.

Yesterday I was with this couple. He can hardly stand, never mind walk. She suffers from Dementia. She is his arms and legs. He tells her what to do and she does it. Many times she hasn’t got a clue what butter, milk, tea, an electric razor or anything he asks for is, but eventually they’ll get there.

Well, yesterday was his birthday. She, of course, had no idea. With the first round, at 7.30 AM, I checked on them both and congratulated him. I came back to help them get washed and dressed around 9. When both were dressed, i got him into his wheelchair and rolled him into the livingroom. I went back to the bathroom to clean up the mess. As I walked past her in the kitchen I whispered in her ear “It’s your husband’s birthday, you should congratulate him.” The last bit is necessary, as otherwise she wouldn’t have a clue what to do with the info I just gave her. She smiled, went over to him and grabbed his hand. I disapeared into the bathroom, and watched what happened. I saw the most beautiful thing happening.

“Congratulations on your birthday, sweetheart.” She said. He looked up, surprise and happiness sweeped across his face. “Thanks.” He replied. She gave him a big kiss and they hugged several minutes while I disappeared, with tears in my eyes, and cleaned up the bathroom. When I came out, she was in the kitchen and I don’t think she remembered what had happened.

He called me and asked “Did you tell her it’s my birthday?” When I said yes, he grabbed my hand and said “Thank you, that was the best birthday gift I’ve ever had.”