Long Term Care

Having Allies

In a long term care home one can easily feel isolated, after all you are just a little cog in the big machinery. However, one lady in the Activities group has been particularly friendly to me. She regularly pops into my room to see how I am doing.

I suppose it is her job because I tend to withdraw to my room all day and that would be a concern. Not that I withdraw really, it is just that I have so much that I can do in my room, and I am not so keen on the activities like Bingo.

She knows a bit of my background and I have been frank with her about the mental and physical struggles that I have. I think she is a good ally to have.

But I really like her. We are both originally from Africa. She regularly nags me to participate in one activity or the other. Today she asked if I would like to go and sit on the patio for a chat and I agreed. It was very pleasant, the weather was particularly nice.

I asked her if I could video an interview with her. But she declined, no matter how careful I was to make it sound enticing. The problem seems to have come to a head when another staff member who I like and considered an ally, took exception to some of my suggestions, in particular shooting video.

Is Shooting Video Legal?
There is misconception about the legality of shooting video in a care facility. By law you are not allowed to video either staff or residents without their express written permission (of a release form) – that requirement is not unique to care homes. Our privacy is protected by law. In the case of a care home, many people are not capable of understanding the ramifications of a proposed video because of their health condition, in which case the person’s relatives or power of attorney must sign the release form. The law allows for shooting video in “crowds or public areas” where it is not feasible to get releases and for situations where it is in the public interest to see.

Management of care homes have a valid concern for possible litigation. This is particularly valid when for example an angry relative, or persons with malicious political or activist intentions misuse videos. However, one must weigh the risks against the enormous potential benefits of video for residents, staff and the organization as a whole when used responsibly within the law.

Maybe I should write a post on the benefits of video…

Back to having allies. Here is the dilemma, I just can’t remember names. I blame it on Parkinson’s but it is so embarrassing. Especially when you have known someone for a while. I will just have to ask her again. I have heard people call her Abba, but that sounds like a title, like we called all grownup men “Oom” or “Uncle” and grownup ladies “Tante” or “Antie”. It was considered respectful.

In Cape Town or eKapa, where I lived before emigrating to Canada, we call a married woman “nkosikasi” if one is being formal or “umama” in a friendly way.

Why is it important to have allies? I believe it is nice to see a friendly face, particularly when you feel lonely or blue.