Jimmy is in his late eighties. A proud man who worked hard all his days he now lives on his own with infrequent visits from family who live hundreds of miles away. Like many of the elderly in our community he now receives care visits to help him stay in his own home. With his sight and hearing failing over the last couple of years Jimmy has come to rely more and more on those carers.
Luckily for him, Jimmy does not need any help with personal care at this time, the help he requires is of a simpler kind. Cooking and medication is really all that is required to help Jimmy stay in his own home. Why is it then that Jimmy has been hospitalised recently?
Each day, 3 visits are made by carers, morning, afternoon and evening. These visits are set up to arrange breakfast, lunch and dinner. The visits are short, enough time to sort out some food and check he has taken medication, nothing more.
Most of the time the conversation goes – “Hi Jimmy, how you doing today? What do you fancy for eating, will I make you a wee sandwich?” Jimmy is just thankful they are feeding him, he won’t ask for anything different or want to put them to any trouble. Due to problems with printing and recording, there is no book to show what the previous carer has done. Nothing to say that Jimmy had a sandwich for breakfast and another for lunch. The third carer of the day offers another sandwich as she rushes to get everything done.
Jimmy sits quietly and says “Aye, a sandwich will be fine”
The hospital said he was dehydrated, asked if he had been eating properly. His family were unable to say as there was no record as to what he had been eating. They knew however that the fridge was almost empty when they arrived.
Was anyone at fault, not really. Should Jimmy have spoken up for himself, should the carers have kept better records, should the family have been more involved? Maybe online shopping with a variety of items would be a good idea?
There are many elderly people living on their own nowadays, their only contact with other people through carers that attend on a daily basis. It wouldn’t take much to make their life so much easier and prevent situations such as Jimmy’s.