View Full Version : Since I can have a grown up conversation on here...PAT visits

29-04-10, 07:27 PM
Tried to talk to me but as always Mrs 'glass-is-empty' just made me feel like **** so I wanted grown up advice please that doesn't involve personal digs about how much of a failure I am.

So I've been on a couple of visits now, I go with my area co-ordinator and her daughter but each time I'm doing more and they're doing less with regards to the talking and introducing everyone. It's really boosting my confidence and I'm really beginning to enjoy the bits I enjoy.

Generally we go to a nursing home first then the hospital. The hospital (stroke and rehab wards) I really enjoy and I'm getting the swing of walking onto a ward, introducing myself to everyone then doing the individual visits to people.

However, the nursing homes/care homes I just can't deal with. It's an issue I know is my own (seeing my nan and the other patients in a hospice scared me half to death when I was about 14) and I just clam up, get scared and want to cry after we leave.

I would LOVE to work with children and knowing Jack and his affinity with kids (read sits down in the middle of the high-street and won't move until they've said hello) I know he'd enjoy doing something with children too. Unfortunately for me a previous volunteer has ruined all chances of me or anyone else from the charity being able to visit the local hospitals children's ward. There is a children's hospice not too far away but I would only be able to visit once a month as it would mean time off work, it's also about 40 miles away so would cost quite a lot in petrol.

Besides care homes I can't think of any other places I can visit locally :( I really don't know if I can keep going in but I can't keep just shadowing the area co-ordinator on her visits and I really love the charity and Jack really does love it.

Do I stick it out and hope I just get used to the care homes, sit back until I can think of something locally or just go for it with once a month visits further away? I just don't know which direction to take so any advice, pro's and cons', experiences etc would be gratefully received.

29-04-10, 07:37 PM
Care homes can be uncomfortable feeling places, but the people in there are no different from other people. You can have some great conversations with older people:) And some really good laughs, dirty jokes and all:D

If you are nervous, why not ring up the home in advance, explain that you are shy and ask if one of the care workers could spare the time to take you around and make introductions? Even if they only do this the first couple of times, if you go a few times you will get to know the residents and it willnot feel like introducing yourself to strangers any more.

Also try and have some conversational gambits prepared and ready so you aren't struggling for something to say. You could ask if they have children or grandchildren, if they had dogs or other pets when they were younger, or if they have always lived locally.

They are probably also shy about meeting a new, young person and may feel just as awkward as you do:)

Stick with it hun - it could be any one of us in one of those places one day. If Henry was a bit calmer, I would do it with him:)

29-04-10, 07:48 PM
It's not even the talking to older people thing that's the problem though I think. I've gotten good at the 'do you have a dog?' 'Have you ever met a Corgi before' type openers and of the two wards we visit at the hospital the majority of the patients are elderly. It's the homes themselves what they represent which gets to me (although meeting VERY advanced alzheimers patients today who just sat in bed shouting did scare me because of the patients themselves) and I'm a little ashamed to admit it especially with my granddad having the condition.

I don't want to frighten myself to the point where I don't want to work with the charity that's the big thing. I'm worried about feeling the way I did visiting nan again so I do have to think of myself a little too.

29-04-10, 07:53 PM
Baaa to everything Spud said.

I know it is hard - I stopped volunteering for an elderly charity because it was tearing me up inside that the only older person I really, really wanted to help, to serve dinner to, to dance with, to talk to, to have fun with, wasn't here any more.
I still can't listen to 'Abide with Me' or 'We'll Meet Again', without bursting into tears. I'm in tears now having written all that, almost exactly four years after she died. But I regret giving up volunteering and I shall no doubt take it up again.

We're all going to be old sometime, try and put yourself in their shoes, if you can.
I know care homes can be depressing places but let me tell you a story.

My mum went to a care home in America, it was the usual sad story, telly in the corner that no one was watching, all staring into space, no one listening, nothing happening.
So my mother just went 'Sod it!' and started a sing song, 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' - everyone brightened up and sang along, but there was one woman in the corner really letting rip, you could tell she had been a singer in her day.
All the older people then started to open up and when she had finished, a nurse came over to her and said 'that's a miracle, that woman who was singing the loudest, who was talking to you, she has no memory'.
My mother says 'Of course she has, she sang every word of the song, she can't remember what happened five minutes ago, but she can remember coming over here from Ireland seventy years ago."

I love older people, I love to hear their stories and even if they are talking utter nonsense and calling me Mary and ordering me out to get the groceries even though they have no idea who I am, they are all interesting people with a story.

They'd probably love to get talking to you and Jack. Old age can be incredibly isolating, a lot of those people probably have no families, or they are living far away, their partners and most of their friends may have passed away, and you guys are acting as a tonic in what can be very long, boring days.

Keep it up, you've done a brilliant job already xxxx

29-04-10, 07:55 PM
With that I don't know what to tell you hun:( I used to work in a hospital so I have met plenty of people with dementia, but it has never affected me beyond making me feel sad for them and their families.

At the end of the day, only you know how much it affects you and how much it means to you to carry on these visits.

29-04-10, 09:50 PM
Do you think its an anxious type of feeling associated to your childhood? (if I understood correctly from your first post)

If so, and if you want to over come it and continue with the visits, get your self some bachs remedy or lemon tablets from holland and barrett.

Might help you get rid of / muffel your fear of these places.

I used to have panic attacks and constant butterflies in my tummy - the lemon stuff (sorry can't remember what its called) really helped. (could not watch my sons nativity play one year due to a panic attack)

Totally understand the nerves thing, Blue and I have our 1st PAT visit next Friday and although excited to be able to do something that benefits others I am nervous as well. I have ME so not able to get out much therefore don't have much to talk about.

If you do decide not to continue don't be hard on yourself, its not for everyone, the fact that you attempted it in the first place is the main thing.

30-04-10, 07:40 AM
I totally understand how you feel. My mum was in a care home for over 2 years and I visited nearly every day, and was always anxious going. It wasn't just the fact that I hated seeing mum like that (she didn't know me etc) but some of the other old folk were seriously offputting. Althugh sadly my mum didn't react at all to the pat dog who visited, I know a lot of the folk really loved the visits, so I am sure your visits are welcome even if they can't tell you so. However, there is no point going if they really do make you feel uncomfortable, apart from anything else if you are on edge it may well transmit to Jack which you don't want.
Sadly I think H & S issues make visits involving children very hard to get, I know I used to take pups into our local school and a new headteacher put a stop to it. What about special schools, there are a couple in Telford I think.

30-04-10, 07:01 PM
You know I hadn't even thought of the schools MM....thank you for that!

I'm also going to look into local day centres as it's a happy medium between visiting older people without the nursing care side of it which I'm finding distressing. I so desperately want to do this so I'm going to be pro active about finding something I'm comfortable with.

30-04-10, 07:12 PM
Try some different nursing/care homes - there are some (like the one where my grandmother was) where they have a patients who need looking after but not necessarily with dementia. Maybe see if there is a local 'care village' or sheltered accommodation - most of the residents are more able but want the security/company etc they provide. Alternatively there may be a rehab unit - usually stroke patients - nearby. Where in the Mids are you? maybe be able to make some suggestions for you?:confused::)