Old man. In his nineties, he fell. He fell again after arriving in hospital.
What to do with him?
He wants to go home; we risk and capacity assess. Determine what is right, good or not and let things happen.
We tried to get him home.
I can tell you something; he’ll fall again.
We have done everything we can to help him – looked at his footwear, eyesight, muscle strength, medicines, blood pressure lying and standing, we have talked with his relatives, even sat with him and discussed the past.
He’s lived in the same house for 70 years; or words to that effect – this is something I hear almost every day.
The patterns of my life; the symmetry, organisation and habits have been established over a lifetime well lived. Let me home.
It makes me think of Moses and The Pharaoh – ‘Let my people go!’ Let me get home!
If only it were as straightforward.
‘Here you are,’ taxi, hospital transport or ambulance and, voila, back in your living room. Familiar items of furniture; ornaments and faded photographs.
His arthritis has been present for 20 years and getting worse, he can’t hear, he is intermittently disorientated, drifting back to the 70’s. The good times. Well, except for Thatcher.
The doctor says, ‘medically fit,’ you don’t need to be with us any longer – you are at risk of becoming an object – a delayed transfer of care – otherwise known as bed-blocker. We can whitewash your humanity, transmogrify you into data.
Stalin said that one death is a tragedy, a million a statistic.
We can’t allow this to happen to our old folk. They aren’t just dots on data charts, logarithmic anomalies to be explained by The Man.
And, how do I help him?
My powerlessness is evident. It is concrete.
Subverting the trajectory of his life is as good as… wishful thinking, staring dreamily at cloud formations, imagining a different past.
Together we stand, divided we compartmentalise.
Let us take a risk, let us, chance our arm, another day or two of freedom, out-with the rules of the institution and we will be able to look back and laugh.