Ending the Shift

Yes, in one hour the night staff would be here, and for the sake of my sanity I refused to consider the possibility of another late sick call. Cecilia had begun to kick the walls and punch the doors, but it was all a bit half hearted and within twenty minutes she had settled for her chain-smoking norm in the tiled lounge, happily stubbing out her fag ends on the latest vinyl chair arms. I laboured through the care plan write-ups and tried to put a slightly different angle on the patients’ repetitious behaviour by using a few different synonyms, the odd novel phrase, a daring piece of interpretation; anything to break the soul-destroying dirge of recording the same non-events every working day. I had Cecilia’s short-lived agitation to report, of course, and I prepared myself for the forest of ‘very concerned’ faces which would greet the news at hand over, even though she lost her temper virtually every evening now, and it had become just another normal abnormality. Then there was the cash to count, and we would prepare one or two of the remaining patients for bed, as a traditional favour to the incoming staff.
Although some of the patients went to bed ridiculously early, some didn’t want to go at all, so we now had the rather difficult job of cajoling one lady to leave her chair and don her night-dress. She played the game like a chess grand master; initially ignoring our requests, then postponing her decision, humouring us with praise, arguing that beds were unnecessary, and finally screaming abuse. Our nostrils told us that she was badly in need of a wash and change anyway, and we knew that her arthritis would worsen if she remained sat in the cold all night, so we hovered about riding the storm. Eventually, the irritation of our continuing presence outweighed the annoyance of getting changed, and she gradually edged towards her bedroom at the sort of pace which would have pleased a Victorian photographer.


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