Stepping out into the morning, so warm it was like a hug, I viewed the promise of Canada Day of an exceptionally fine quality. Looking to my client list, I realised the person in the 7am slot was unknown to me, nor did I have a telephone number for them. I decided to go to a lady who I knew would be up and willing to receive an early visit and bump the gent to the 7:30 slot. The two people lived rather close so it was actually 7:15 when I entered. As it turned out, he had been expecting 7 but a quarter of an hour later was acceptable. And so ended the predictable portion of my work day as Murphy got into my car and travelled alongside me, spreading chaos.
Protocal demands that if no reply is given at the door, I must continue to try to gain entry for 15 minutes and call the person on the telephone before notifying the on-call supervisor whose duty it is to make the decision whether to overlook the absence or call the contact numbers. As we know our clients rather well, this person's judgement is right on the money 99 times out of 100. No answer at the door in this case put me 45 minutes ahead of schedule as I had completed my first two assignments 30 minutes early, due to competancy AND no need for use of the build-in travel time. What to do what to do? I was not able to go early to the next place as it was a 2 person assignment. I cruised past my ten am client and saw the front door open and a family member outside. It was 8:10 - but I opted to stop and check in to see if I could buzz through early. I could.
Once in, it was obvious that the heat had taken it's toil on the older lady. Her husband, was busy telling me nothing at all was wrong, but in fact, she was difficult to rouse and once her eyes opened she complained of a bad stomach. I went back to the gentleman who shook his head and told me that she was fine. Nothing at all wrong. She had been up earlier and they had enjoyed their tea and porridge and now she was just resting. I had a bad feeling.
One advantage of attending to a person with poor short term memory is that you can leave the room for a moment and come back in with a similar approach that might succeed. Like the filme Groundhog Day, I tried it over and over until I found the formula that worked. I got her up and dressed and walked her out to her living room where she sat down. Suddenly her eyes rolled back into her head and she lay down on the couch unresponsive. It was very warm and she did not look well hydrated. It is always a worry in the elderly at this time of year, that they will not increase their fluid intakes to compensate for the heat. But when you are in your 90s, it could be almost anything. Age brings friends that most of us would rather not invite to our parties.
By the time the ambulance arrived, the other half of this sweet couple was in distress as well. The first responders were excellent and had him stabilised quickly. His wife on the other hand was taken away to be rehydrated, and checked over. And I was now very late for my assignment. It was just a few moments more until someone arrived to stay with the gent, and by the time I arrived to my next place, I was delighted to see one of the better co-workers already engaged in the tasks at hand. Not that I dont like everyone else but indeed we are not all created equally and in some environs, certain personalities fade, fail and crumple. In this place where we work, all the tools are there, all supplies well stocked, but the client is not going gently into that dark night. The client has a whip of a tongue and even in a diminished state is quite capable of reducing suseptible folk to jellies. My co-worker was rather aware of his dislike for her but seemingly impervious. It did not affect her care and we completed our tasks easily.
The remainder of my day had glitches and some downright errors. One of my clients had already received service by someone who misread the schedule. Another was out on the links and I was running behind the cart to get his attention. All in all it was fairly typical of a holiday work day in our world. Pleasant but chaotic.