Dignity offered to one person helps others to feel they are respected too.
The excitement was mounting, an entertainer was coming, guests had arrived to watch the show and were sitting in the lounge ready with our residents.
The entertainer arrived and began to sing, everyone looked happy and we were all enjoying the music.
Then Glady's* raised her hand to attract the attention of the Activity Coordinator.
'I need the toilet' she said.
'I'll get someone' replied the Activity Coordinator, before busying herself with ensuring everyone else was happy.
Five minutes later Gladys asked again to go to the toilet. The Activity Coordinator left the room and returned with two carers. The carers whispered to Gladys and then left the room.
Another five minutes went by and Gladys called out that she needed the toilet. This time the Activity Coordinator went over to Gladys and whispered something before returning back to her seat. The entertainer finished singing and began packing away.
Gladys shouted out 'I need the toilet!'. This time she was ignored.
The Activity Coordinator began to help our residents to return back to their rooms. Gladys was left in the lounge. She was clearly distressed and began to panic that she would not be able to wait much longer.
Another ten minutes went by and still Gladys had no one to help her to get to the toilet.
Our lovely visitors and residents began to feel sorry for Gladys, then awkward for not being able to help. They felt embarrassed too, they could do nothing but wait for Gladys to be helped by a member of staff who seemed to be never coming. Not a great advertisement for the good care that is usually offered here.
Instead of the lovely uplifted, happy feelings everyone gets after an entertainer has been, everyone felt miserable. The entertainer might just as well never have come for some people, they won't remember the fun they had at the beginning of the session. The feelings of distress will remain with them for sometime. I will see the aftereffects in the behaviours of some of our residents who have a dementia diagnosis during the rest of the day. I will witness the stresses of our wonderful carers later as they struggle to connect with them, trying to engage them in other activities such as mealtimes. I will hear others telling everyone they see today how awful it was for 'poor Gladys'.
How different everyone would have felt if Gladys had been able to leave the room to go to the toilet instead of being left to feel hopeless, childlike in her needs.
Gladys could have returned to enjoy the rest of the show. Our visitors would have left feeling confident that their loved one was in the best place and they would have told their friends what a lovely afternoon they had had in our home.
Each action in our home affects how others feel. When we live together, we experience things together, both the good and the bad.
*Please note that #TheFridayFly never uses real names.