Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September Recap: Challenges of Changing OT Assignments

Back to my blog home page:

My laptop is finally back from Dell, 2nd repair in its seven-month life. Glee's on in the background, and I've settled in with a bag of Hershey's Nuggets left behind by friends last weekend.

A recap is in order...

September 7: Goodbye wishes from aides, nurses, therapists, residents, family members. Tears. Gratitude.

It's been one of the best years of my life!

The Move
September 8-9: Subaru nosed in the direction of northwest,
two loads of accrued comforts in the Forester with the futon frame and mattress secured tightly on the roof rack. 

I was resigned to the truth during this transition that if I happen to gather any more stuff, then I'll have to have a garage sale, donate to charity or put some belongings on the curb in about 18 weeks!

My friend, Susanne, helped me settle in. We had a few days to explore the new area, including local rocky beaches, new restaurants and window shopping.

Oh, and by the way...every sunset is amazing.

This little town is an unusual concoction of upscale artistry, former fishing and logging interests and medical marijuana growers.

I can honestly say I've never experienced a place like this.

...And Work...

September 12 - present

Let me repeat, I can honestly say I've never experienced a place like this.

The people who work here are very kind and enthusiastic to have me here, and I'm committed to spending 18 weeks helping build a program.

I'm floored, however, to viscerally feel as if I've bounced out of a time machine right into the 1960's when I see the residents of this home.

They're all lined up outside their doors with very little stimulation all day. Many of them are older women with dementia who chime in every few moments:


"dum de dum de dum, (higher pitch) dum de dum de dum"

"what do I do now? what do I do now?"

...over and over and over and over again all day long.

I feel frazzled and am experiencing near migraine headaches by the end of every work day. It's time to start checking my blood pressure more regularly.

Sigh. It's not like the assignment I just left.

But there's even more opportunity to make positive change here than most places I've worked. They're hungry to know what to do to make things better. They just lack the basic understanding of how to cater to a majority population of elders with dementia.

I pull out my clipboard. I start a list. By day four, I've evaluated a full caseload and written a waiting list to keep me busy until I leave in January. The whole building needs treatment. I'll have to do it 8-10 residents at a time. 

By the way, if you have children with nurturing personalities of college age who want a guaranteed job when they graduate, steer them toward occupational therapy!

These residents need all the help they can get. So do I!

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