Old is perhaps the best description of my feelings as I left Morrel Court care home this Wednesday morning.
I'm not sure if this was better or worse than totally unprepared and nervous as I went in!
Some of the people are lovely. (some do not socialise or communicate at all) The home, I understand, is well maintained and from some of the residents past experiences is a good quality one with a good standard of care, they have an activities manager, something I understand few homes have.
I was sat beside one lady who was wearing very thick glasses.
Apparently she could see very little. Nothing, in fact, would be a better description. She asked for the lights on but she was ignored. Almost every word she said was about her lack of sight. She was afraid and seemed very confused. My awkward attempts to communicate were not understood. She asked for two people by name. Other residents said loudly that they would be back soon or had gone out. Quietly one said to me that these people had died.
Most of the time the rest of the residents and some staff left her alone.
I'm only there for four weeks, how can I ignore her as others do. I tried to encourage her to eat the remainder of her biscuit, but as she could not see it or understand what was left of it, could not eat it.
Even though there is little point in communication as I will only be visiting a few times, it seems wrong to simply ignore someone, simply because they are confused. I am left wondering what quality of life she had before moving into the home, because it seems very little now. I do not understand her situation in detail, but was left feeling stupid and helpless. If I try to engage with her do I end up creating a pastoral nightmare for the staff on leaving. If I don't attempt to engage with her I feel that something deep within myself has been wrenched apart. Biblical images are flooding about. I cannot stand by and do nothing while some do, but cannot understand why others don't.
What is it within me that creates this desperate will, a hunger and desire to be with people who have nothing and lift them from their situation to something better? It is certainly not a blessing. It is not pity or compassion, these sound so patronising. Neither can it be empathy as I have never felt what it is like to be blind, confused and afraid. Is it then the mere reaching out of one soul to another. One who is ordinary, fragile and weak reaching out to another, perhaps recognising what it means to be fully human, helping the other to grow and seeing potential even in the midst of unknowable suffering?