After a few years of working at The House, you can only string out a handover consisting of 15 residents' daily bodily activities for so long, without diverging from the topic-at-hand. Or falling asleep..

After a couple of minutes somebody nudged Maudlin from her spontaneous narcosis and Bettie kindly mopped up some of the drool which we had all been watching with gritted teeth, as it gradually coursed its way down the front of Maudlin's tunic.

"Has she been helping herself to the residents' medication again?" murmured Glenda, my sidekick for the coming night shift.

"She's been like that all day," said Rocky, one of the few other male RNs based at the house. "I think she's been putting in too much overtime."

But Maudlin seemed to rouse from her stupour and continued unabashed. "Oh did you hear there was another rally on the weekend? The Wilderness Society put on a thing about that stinking Pulp Mill they're wanting to build down here. They reckon about 3000 turned up."

There was a general murmur of interest. "Yeah good thing too," retorted Rocky, warming to his topic. "Be the worst bloody thing they could do - it'd totally fuck up the environment and we'd be drinking our own recycled piss water for the rest of our lives. I'd like to kill that bastard." There was a mumble of collective assent as Rocky wiped his projected spittle from Maudlin's forehead. "Er, sorry about that mate.."

Just then Brian, one of the residents, appeared at the doorway of the Nursing Station and pushed open the upper half of the barn-style door. Sawing the door into two halves had been a great idea. That way the staff could interact with the residents without having to behold anything below the belt, such as the urine-soaked trousers which Brian stood in. "Hey Andy, you gonna help me have a shower tonight?"

"Yeah sure Brian, no worries," Andy replied, "Just let us finish handover and I'll be with you, after supper and cigarettes eh?"

Although he was fully-mobile and relatively self-caring, no amount of staff prompting seemed to prevent Brian from pissing in his trousers almost every day. So the assisted showers were an important evening ritual. And Andy knew he wouldn't have to handle the malodorous strides too much; all he had to do was whistle and they'd jump into the washing machine of their own accord.

"Okay, mate." Brian tipped his urine-soaked hat (God knows how he managed to it all over there) and closed the door hatch.

The unmistakable shuffle indicated Brian had moved down the corridor, out of earshot. Rocky checked the door; one of the other residents, Grezelda, sometimes tried to listen to handover by lingering near the office. However the advanced stench of fresh urine/faeces/general fishiness which followed her around was always a dead giveaway. "All clear."

Andy forced himself to imagine a field full of violets and focused back on the day report..

 

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