I abhor violence even when the perpetrator is a generally sweet man who behaves much like my husband did last year; he wears several shirts at once, “shops” for clothing in other folks’ rooms, used to smile at me and hold my hand as I led him from my husband’s room. “I just want to go home,” he'd say, “I could take that car,” he would add, pointing outside the window.But he punched Bob and me and he hit several staff members in a 10 day spree before he was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. The tension is palpably reduced.
While the above is true, the feeling of safety and comfort I previously felt about my husband’s life has been permanently modified by this experience. The tone of the staff is altered to providing what the residents need, not to engaging them in a playful, respectful manner. “I’d like to Velcro your shorts to the chair,” I overheard one worker say to another wanderer. Or, “I gave you juice before. We’re eating in a half hour,” to a woman who forgot she drank earlier. “I went over to her and asked her what she wanted, but she didn’t say anything,” as another worker returned from the circle of lounge chairs to hide behind the kitchen counter, logging something into the computer. Where are the dolls, the balls, the staff with a playful spirit? Where is someone sitting to read to the people, to interact with them? To smile at them? To make them feel at home and welcome????
For the staff, the work has become a chore; for the residents, the place has become merely a wait station, for me, reality has reduced my naivete.www.facebook.com