Evenings at The House are usually pretty quiet affairs. There's the supper round, the medication round and the cigarette round to organise. Not necessarily in that order. Most people smoke, most are on medication, most are a bit overweight. Often the three are intertwined. But generally, evenings are pretty low-key and relaxed..

"I'm gonna kill you, you f*cking old c*nt!" the yell came from the residents' kitchen, the voice - the unmistakable falsetto of Jamie, the youngest and newest resident at The House. In the Nurses' Office, Andy looked up from his microwaved lasagne and carefully wiped his lips with a napkin, "I'll deal with this one."

One doesn't spend twenty years in Nursing only to panic at the mere sound of murder and mayhem. Nor blanch at choice expletives. Emotion is a funny thing. Some people are very in tune with their feelings, others not so. The trick here is not to wade into such a situation showing too much excitement yourself as this can heighten the levels of arousal.

The scene in the kitchen was a picture indeed. Brian was rolling on the floor, thrashing against another of the older residents, Bob. Bob in turn, was attempting to strangle Brian. And just to add colour, Jamie was yelling at Brian at the top of his voice and trying to kick him on the floor.

Andy calmly moved in and asked Jamie to stand back a few paces so he could get to the two blokes brawling on the floor. Both the combatants were elderly and rather unfit and they could almost have been locked in an amorous embrace, sweating and grunting and swearing away at each other. Andy tried hard not to smile.

With the help of Glenda, the other RN, they physically prised the two aspiring gladiators apart and calmed them down in separate corners of the room. Definitely a two-person job, breaking up fights. It's also important to get the combatants talking, expressing themselves verbally, getting the anger out without resorting to more physical aggression. There was a bit more shouting as Brian and Bob faced off across the dining room, but the situation gradually calmed to a grumble.

Andy and Glenda took some time making sure the other residents were OK and the unit gradually returned back to normality again.

The incident had occurred due to Brian's tendency to guzzle half the milk from the communal jug. Usually the residents report such things and the staff have a quiet word with the offender. Serious fights in mental health institutions are comparatively rare, although the tensions of any group of people living together are bound to result in minor clashes from time to time.

The nurses returned to their office to finish tea. "Did you see that gardening show on TV last night..?" asked Glenda, sipping her coffee.

"Nah, I never watch the telly," Andy was back, happily munching on his luke-warm lasagne, "Real life's enough excitement for me.."

 

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