Friday, February 17, 2012

Money Can't Buy You Love.

I have a hospice patient I've been visiting for about a month and I really enjoy seeing this person. My patient is close to death, at one point even choosing not to eat, and is sometimes quite sharp and lucid, at others, caught up in a hallucination. However, when I'm there holding this person's hand or feeding them a popsicle, I feel I'm in the right place doing the right thing.

I see a lot of different facilities in the course of my work. I see small, six-person Adult Family Homes, medium-size Dementia centers, and quite large Assisted Living/Memory Facilities. I've commented before that most of the day to day caregivers belong to other ethnic groups, which I find very interesting. I've noticed something else lately, too.

The facility where I visit my patient is absolutely the most wealthy and gorgeous I've ever seen. There are huge chandeliers in the lobby and hallways, a sweeping staircase, a coffee bar, a pool, a library, an entire Wellness Center, and various other amenities. Inside each elevator is a mirror with a vase of flowers welded on to it, for heaven's sake, and there are plush draperies and soft furnishings everywhere. The apartments are large and roomy, with full kitchens, fireplaces, and large bathrooms. It's obvious that a lot of money is required both to live in the facility and to maintain it.

The thing I've noticed, however, is that there are no more staff members in this plush facility than in any other, smaller one. While its obvious that the staff members both know and care for each resident, they don't have much time to spend with each one. I will sit with my patient for 45 minutes to an hour and see no one; I'm sure there's a schedule that says when to change dressings and move the patient, but there seems to be no time allotted for visits. That's why I'm there. Just like in any facility, if you have no family to visit you, you're dependent on what the staff can spare you.

So if you can't afford a fancy place for your family member, don't necessarily think you're a failure. What I've seen just goes to show me that it doesn't matter whether its a plush, gorgeous, expensive facility or a small, patched-up Family Home-the care seems to be very similar. There may be flowers in the elevator, but I have a feeling my patient, like most residents, would rather have more time with caregivers.


  1. Hello there!

    I agree with you that the residents would love to have more time with caregivers. Are you a geriatric care manager by chance? If not, what is your profession as I am looking for someone to help with my mom that lives far away from me.

    Thank you for your blog!

    1. Thanks for looking in on my blog! I am not a care manager, I"m a hospice volunteer/bereavement counselor/writer. Where are you looking? Maybe I can help you find someone in Seattle. Take care! Joy