Stuff of Elderly Care Nightmares
I was going to begin this post in a very aggressive and Karen-esque manner, but after a few seconds of quiet meditation I have decided to change my tone...at least for a little bit.
I had a job interview (I was offered the position but did not accept for obvious reasons) last week at a Senior Care Facility (SCF) and I have NEVER felt more dejected by the state of the environment I was interviewing in in my entire life. Mind you, I've interviewed for some pretty sleazy and sketchy people, interviewed in some pretty crappy places, and have even had some strong disagreements with interviewers who were mildly racist, rude and/or condescending, but this one takes the cake; and the worst part is this: this SCF is apparently very “respected” among SCF's here in the U.S. and they operate in multiple states.
I understand that senior care homes are severely understaffed at the moment and that (especially now with COVID) employers are struggling to find workers, but what I saw and smelled that day was outrageous. I don't even know where to begin: with the flies AND mosquitos swarming inside the building? Or how about the mold and spiderwebs on the ceiling and walls? Or even “better”, with the dirt and dust that covered every single piece of furniture and decor? Or shall I begin with the horrible smells of urine, fecal matter and God-knows-what-else? Or how about with the nurses and care staff, who all had wrinkly, dirty and soiled uniforms, were wearing their masks halfway (some not even at all—I'm pretty sure this was a severe violation of something...), and who seemed angry and frustrated with the elderly people in their care?
Excluding this awful experience, I've only been inside a SCF twice; once when our school had an intruder/fire alarm, and my class was caught outside (the SCF staff were kind enough to let us stay inside their building while things were sorted out) and once when I sang Christmas hymns with my school choir to a group of sweet elderly folks who gave us cookies and hot chocolate. On both occasions I remember the SCF's being clean and well-lit (I forgot to mention above that this place looked gloomy and dreary, with dark/dimmed light bulbs and creepy dark corners), the residents looked happy and relaxed, and the waiting and common areas looked spotless and clean. In short, the hygiene levels were TOP NOTCH. The decor was (obviously) a bit outdated, but I suppose that is to be expected considering the elderly folks who called those places home...and I will abandon that tangent before we sidetrack away too much from my “rant”...
I cannot understand why basic hygiene and maintenance is neglected in that awful place. This SCF was in a lower-income area (this should probably tell you everything you need to know about why this place looked the way I'm describing it; although some might try to dispute it) and most of the residents seemed to be people of color, but that is NOT an excuse to neglect the environment that these people call home. Elderly people, regardless of income level or race/ethnicity/etc., do not deserve to live in such deplorable conditions. No amount of tiredness or exhaustion or frustration or anything in between should be used as an excuse. Perhaps many of you might think I am overreacting, but I feel that my anger is justified. I did not get to see too far into the SCF and I won't speculate, but I can only imagine how things would look further on inside.
Poor people. Seriously, I left that day feeling sad and speechless, and even a little ashamed. I got to go home to a place where the dirt and mess are of my own making; these people don't have a choice. And here's the thing, what can I do to help them? I have no experience with these types of places (my grandmother Linda passed away in her own home) and I don't have any living relatives or friends who have relatives who live in one of these places. I genuinely *do. not. know what to do or how to help. Can I even help? If I brought up my concerns to the “powers that be” would they do anything or would the just laugh in my face?
I really debated writing this because I don't want to be seen as an oversensitive fool, but I decided to take the plunge because I had to get my concerns out there. Am I overreacting or is my anger justified? Some advice would be nice.