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A letter to ….My Mother’s wonderrful care worker – From The Gaurdian

A letter to ….My Mother’s wonderrful care worker – From The Gaurdian

We are bombarded every week by stories in the press of terrible care practices where vulnerable people are put at risk. It is important to remember that every hour, of every day, of every year, there are fantastic, highky trained and skilled care workers supporting people to make a difference to their lives. We thought that we would share this story we found in the Gaurdian this week which highlights what excellence in care looks – a celebration for all the amazing care workers;

A letter to ….My Mother’s wonderrful care worker The Guardian 22.6.13

I didn’t take to you at first. Remember how you combed my mother’s hair in a style that didn’t suit her, putting the mirror into her hand, saying “Voila!” I was annoyed, not realising that of course you couldn’t have known how her hair should be done and that what I’d interpreted as flippancy was just your jovial touch.


Gradually, I got to know you better. One day, when changing my mother, you talked about your work: that you’ve had difficult patients, as well as nice, grateful ones. That at times, when someone was calling out again “Nurse! Nurse!”, when you’d only just attended to that person, you got exasperated and told yourself, I’m struggling. You took a deep breath, acknowledged the thought that you had to see to it again, and something happened: exasperation turned into new energy.


What had brought this change? I asked. You told me that you felt your work was a vocation. That you could give goodness to those you cared for. But frustration and anger were part of it. That you had to balance the positive and negative, and if you did it well your energy flowed.


I was grateful for your wise words. You were young, but already able to draw lessons from experience. This came to the fore one day when you noticed that my mother hadn’t passed urine. Something’s wrong, you said, and quickly told the staff nurse, who put in a catheter. Without your foresight, her kidneys may well have packed up and she wouldn’t have lived the three more months that she did.


In that time you cared beautifully for her. Reassuring her with kind words, always cheerful and smiling. A mother is the most important person in our lives, you said, which touched me. I began to see my mother with fresh eyes. Working alongside you whenever I could, I took pleasure in feeding, in wiping her mouth and nose. What a lovely daughter you have, you said to my mother, affirming my meagre efforts.


You came from Slovakia, and I learned that there the old and infirm are cared for at home by their relatives. You told me that your grandmother had brought you up while your mother went out to work, and when your grandmother became old and sick you cared for her while studying. What you give in life comes back to you a thousandfold, you said.


It was those words that enabled me to be with my mother during her final, distressing weeks. You showed so much empathy and concern, while at the same time supporting me during my visits.


One night, when her cough had got a lot worse and a fever set in, you recognised the danger signs and called an ambulance. My mother died two weeks later in hospital.


I thought I’d never see you again. But when I delivered my thank you card to the home, you were on duty. It was your lunch-break, and spotting me walk down the corridor to the staff room, you came up to me and gave me a huge hug. Tears rolled down my face – I couldn’t speak, I just wanted to stay in your warm embrace.


You had given my mother so much – she liked your friendly, thoughtful manner. And with your openness and insight, you enriched the time left for me to care for her.


If anyone says that the old can’t learn from the young, I’ll point to your example. But for now, thank you – from the bottom of my heart.


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