Teresa’s October 2013 Update
The honks and beeps of the traffic around the block grow louder and louder in the crisp of the autumn wind; so loud, so constant that it becomes almost unbearable. Thankfully, we found a park on the top of a hill to escape the noise. There I recall things happened in the last few weeks; now sharing some of them with you. The stories are many. Please take your time to read and celebrate with me the Lord’s work at hand.
A) A little care goes a long way
I visited those who are in the full-care rooms with a volunteer. We listened to their stories, rubbed their back, massaged their hands and feet, and encouraged them to turn their body and move their limbs. Some could, some couldn’t. However, light seeped in. Even the one who went through the trauma of abandonment, who had stopped talking, is now talking. She and some others on the full-care unit are now in the morning program. Some care workers were motivated by their change. They began to encourage those under their care to exercise their limbs, and became more concerned for their physical comfort.
I then mobilized supervisors of the nursing team and members of the disability rehab center to bring people on wheel chairs to the morning program. The response was amazing. In three weeks’ time, the attendance has increased from 20 to 40 to 60. Encouraging responses and feedbacks from the attendants and the staff team:
- A 99 year-old: “I am 99 but have never been so happy before”
- Another in her 90s: “I can neither see nor hear, but I can feel the happiness around me – I don’t’ know how to say it … I’m just very, very happy to be here”
- The previous administrator, now a retiree, comes to stay as a guest from time to time, and participated in the morning program: “This is very good, so lively, so happy; thank you for including those who can neither walk nor move … this friend here used to be doing a lot for this place, she is now weak and frail, can’t even take care of herself… I am so glad to see you including her today.”
- A man with severe chronic pain was miserably depressed. I went to care for him in his room and encouraged him to do exercise. Every move hurts but he persisted. In appreciation of his endurance, I gave him a rub on the neck. You should have seen that smile of victory on his face.
- Another resident is also deep in depression. For a while she refused taking food and water. I befriended her and played eating with her. After a couple of visits, she began eating snacks, even joking with her neighbors.
- More comments reflecting the ripple effect of care:
The administrator: “I am so excited to see so many of them out, some have not been out for 10-20 years, and they are now singing and waving their hands…”
A care work supervisor: “I see the change in the lives of the elderly. I am so happy… I want to bring more out but many simply refuse … so sad, don’t know how to motivate them … I love them so much, it is hard to pull away emotionally….”
B) Attitude changes Attitude
Change in the attitude of a care worker…
Walking towards the elevator on the ground floor, I heard a care worker yelling at a resident on the wheelchair. With a tap on her shoulder, I asked, “What puts you in such bad mood today?” “Nothing,” she said, “my leg is hurting and she keeps annoying me.”
The morning program had just finished, the elevator was fully loaded. The senior didn’t understand; she kept complaining about the wait. The care worker was overtaken by her leg pain. They both lost their calm.
I bent down and winked at the resident, “See, her leg is hurting; people yell when they are in pain, don’t’ they? The elevator is fully loaded; it didn’t stop but soon will. Let’s keep quiet just for now.” The resident nodded with understanding. The care worker heard my whisper; she almost burst into laughter.
The elevator was still busy. The care worker couldn’t contain herself again; this time she yelled at the other care worker in the elevator. I simply looked into her eyes, asked about her pain and massaged her leg. Her rage melted.
Finally the door of the elevator opened. Gently she wheeled in her client and smiled at the colleague whom she had just yelled at. Before the door closed, she turned around and said, “thank you.”
Change in attitude of a staff….
We (one volunteer and I) crowned the one who helps organizing activities “Miss Negative” and “Miss Old Way”. Whenever new ideas are introduced to engage residents and members of the disability rehab center, she agrees. But in action, she either does nothing or returns to her own way. Her way was to do little and care little – no work, no fault. Her reason being: “this is the way we do things here.” When we took her with us to rounds of visit, her comment was, “no use… this one don’t talk, that one don’t see, this one can’t move…that one can’t hear…”
We kept insisting on doing the right thing; we took her hands, walked her through the process, and demonstrated what difference a little care and effort can make in the lives of the seniors. Four weeks passed. Gradually, we saw signs of improvement in her. Then came this amazing moment: it was during a problem solving training section, the problem she identified was, “I don’t have enough knowledge to do my job.” The question she asked was, “How can I improve?”
Wow!! Miss “old way” wants to improve. How soon! How wonderful!
Our Lord is revealing His power to change lives!! Hallelujah.
C) Mid-Autumn Festival celebration – family and volunteer connection:
Passion instills passion…
20 local university students came to help with the garden games on the mid-Autumn Festival. We debriefed with them after the event. At the beginning of the debriefing, two students said that they didn’t see any value being there, “just accompany the old.” Generally all of them didn’t think much of volunteer work at the care home. It was either duty to fulfill or a good feeling. In view of this, we talked about our passion and shared my observations on the impacts that they had just made. Their eyes were opened. Six of them, including the two male students that were most negative, approached me with a tender heart and asked “How and what can we do for the seniors in the future?”
D) The staff family fun night:
A group of volunteers from Hong Kong did a marvelous job singing and playing games with the staff and family. There were great interactions and lots of fun among us all. The husband of the administrator had neither sung nor danced before. Being fueled by the passion of the volunteers; he sang and waved his arms along with us. The administrator was in awe. “Can’t believe my eyes,” she said, “I have never seen him doing that in my life….my grandson is still singing those lyrics at home.”
Servitude points the broken to Life…
At the end of the event, we served food to the staff and family. A care worker was observing and concluded that I was approachable. She brought a couple from her village the next day to ask for help. It was by an act of injustice 10 years ago that the husband was traumatized to the point of nervous breakdown. He has since been treated with a heavy dosage of tranquilizers that numbs and disables him. He became delusional so the family suffers. The hospital diagnosed him non-curable. The wife feels guilty, helpless, and is desperately looking for a means of cure. During the conversation, I found out that her grandmother was a Christian and urged her to take faith in the Lord. They both believed and came to faith. I am now looking for medical help on their behalf.