Just to recap from some previous posts, I became a homecare worker at the age of 64, having retired after more than 20 years as a self employed driving instructor.
Working in the most beautiful part of the country, the Lake District, took me to many areas in Kendal, Windermere and the villages nearby.
After I had completed my training I had several “clients” whom I saw on a regular basis but I also I stood in for carers on their day off.
I was asked to make an 8 o’clock morning call to help a lady in her seventies who had mild dementia and needed to have her breakfast made for her otherwise she would forget it. It also included a few household chores.
Mrs. Sanderson lived in a recently completed block of luxury apartments and resided at the top on the second floor. I had to use an intercom system to gain entry but Mrs. Sanderson knew the ropes and let me in.
She was in her dressing gown but appeared a very smart lady and unlike many clients friendly. I don’t think she realised I had not been before. The apartment was really nice, beautifully furnished and decorated and had an open plan lounge and kitchen with a bedroom and bathroom off the hall.
Mrs. Sanderson, Joyce, wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to eat so after exploring the kitchen cupboards I suggested “ cook in the bowl porridge” and toast. This was welcomed. I successfully made the porridge in the microwave in a LARGE BOWL, having realised from overflowing mishaps in my own kitchen, despite what the instructions on the packet infer, it will overflow a normal cereal bowl leaving a mess in the microwave and very little porridge in the bowl.
About to throw the empty packet in the kitchen bin I discovered it was full to overflowing. Joyce was getting on nicely with her porridge and I thought it was a good chance to take the bin bag out to the basement refuse bins. This was also the residents car park.
I went out to the lift situated close to Joyce’s front door but once in couldn’t work out which was the button used to reach the basement. Nothing daunted I ran down the stairs nearby but was thwarted on the ground floor where the stairs finished!
Back up in the lift still trying to work it out, I gave up and entering the apartment asked Joyce what the system was. I now have to point out that although Joyce couldn’t remember about breakfast and the mechanics of dressing she was quite agile, in good health and in her working years had supervised a large office.
“Let me show you” she said firmly, standing up and tying the cord on her dressing gown. Not averse to her helping but thinking of time moving on I put a slice of bread in the toaster ready for when we came back. We walked briskly to the lift and Joyce my dementia client pointed to a minus button, pressed it, then the number 1 and off we went to the basement.
Joyce showed me the refuse bins and after depositing the kitchen waste we went back up in the lift to the second floor. Joyce having enjoyed her little jaunt tremendously.
As I opened her front door an ominous smell of burning assailed my nostrils and stepping into the lounge we were met by loads of smoke emanating from the kitchen area and the smell of incinerated toast.
I dashed to the toaster, blackened bread still toasting and unplugged it a moment before it caught fire. Dreading the smoke alarm going off I vigorously wafted the tea towel towards its position on the ceiling and averted catastrophe.
Mrs Sanderson was happy with the piece of bread and marmalade I gave her before leaving and going on to my next client.
I heard a few days later that a fire engine had attended the apartments early in the morning when all the residents, mainly elderly and most in their nightclothes, dressing gowns and slippers had had to be evacuated in fear and trepidation to the assembly point outside.
I felt a sense of guilt as I had forgotten to report the faulty toaster to my superiors! No need though as there wasn’t a fire, it was a false alarm and most of the residents had enjoyed the appearance of the fire engine, sirens and blue flashing light.
It was the talk of the building for many a week!