Frank was known by the staff as “one of the difficult patients” in his retirement center. As an 89-year-old man, Frank had seen the loss of his wife and a decline in visits from his family. This made it difficult for most of the staff to work with Frank and care for him.
One bathing day, Frank was sitting in his wheelchair outside his room with clean clothes and his bath items ready to go. As with every other bathing day, Frank was last to be bathed, as staff would walk by him. But today would prove to be different for him.
A New Volunteer
Katie had just started for the day and was walking to her nursing station to report in. She noticed that it was well past bathing time and that one of the patients was still out in the hallway. She decided to find out how she could help.
Walking up to Frank, she smiled and asked, “How are you this morning, Sir? Are you waiting to have your bath?”
Before she could say anything else, Frank blurted out, “Well, you are not the regular nurse, so you can’t help me!”
Katie kindly responded, “You are right. I am a new volunteer and would like to help you. What’s the name of your nurse?”
“I don’t know. They never come around,” snapped Frank, as he turned away, hiding his face.
“Well, I’ll find out for the both of us,” said Katie.
Walking up to the nurses station, she gave a gentle “Ahem,” which got the attention of the closest nurse. The nurse looked up and asked, “How can I help you?”
“Hello. I am volunteer Katie and would like to know who the nurse is for Room 12A. It looks like he still needs his bath,” said Katie.
“Brad is Frank’s nurse today. Would you like to help us bathe him? Frank is one of our more grumpy residents.”
“Oh, thank you. I would like to try. Would you be able to show me where his bathing room is?” asked Katie.
“Why sure. I will have Brad show you the ropes,” said the nurse.
Turning around, the nurse asked, “Brad, can you please show Miss Katie where the bath is so she can bathe Frank?”
“Gladly! I would be more than happy to. Please follow me, Katie,” said Brad as he got up to show Katie where things were.
A New Relationship
Brad had shown Katie where the supplies and the bathing room were. After Katie had prepared the bathing room, she went to get Frank. Katie watched him sitting in his chair and noticed that no one had come to help him, as Frank was still hunched over looking at the floor.
“Well, I found out some names,” said Katie. “To start with, my name is Katie. And I found out that Brad is your nurse today. And you are Frank. Frank – who will now get a bath.”
“That must make you the world’s best detective. Now please leave me alone,” Frank said in an effort to get rid of Katie.
“Well, you sure are snappy this morning. I have your bath all warm and ready. So we should get going before it gets cold,” said Katie as she started to wheel Frank down the hall.
From then on, Katie made it a point to do something for Frank every day. She would make his bed, read his mail to him, or just go in and visit with him. One time she had lunch with his son in the cafeteria and learned a lot about Frank and why he acted the way he did. Because Katie spent a little bit of time with Frank every day, it changed him a little at a time. Frank was more receptive and nice toward the staff. It was even rumored that Frank was starting to tell jokes and riddles as he used to do in his early years.
Today Katie is a charge nurse for a nursing home. She reflects back to the days when she would spend time with Frank and how it changed him. By spending a little bit of time with Frank and doing the small things, it made all the difference. Katie still gets Christmas cards from Frank’s son, thanking her for making his father’s last years happy ones. And to this day, Katie uses Frank as an example to her staff. Katie makes it a point to always have a Frank in her life.
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