(It’s all about) “Shaving Face!”

A reflection on some personal experience (Mental Health series – part 4)

There was in an open men’s ward at the Institution where you could be misled into thinking the provision of care was at least of a reasonable standard.  The ward was full of middle aged and older men – some with residual schizophrenia, some with Alzheimer’s and a handful with an intellectually disability.

The routine had similarities with other wards at WPH, and here I frequently found myself as the yardman.  The yard fence was not high, but these guys were not going anywhere so any absconding risk was low.  It was on a slow day in the yard (a regular day in other words) that I took it upon myself to shave one elderley gent who had a particularly heavy growth.  I was all set up with a bowl of water, shaving cream, towel and razor and was 50% through the shave before being confronted by the Charge Nurse.  I was told to cease the shave immediately – today was NOT a “shaving day” – shaving days were every second day.  So I left the poor guy with a half shaved face and went back to doing nothing in particular.

This ward had a large visitors room, nicely decorated with wall pictures, some comfortable chairs and coffee tables etc.  It was here where relatives and friends would wait to visit their loved ones.  Staff would collect the resident from the yard – and if necessary wash and shave them (shaving day or not!) and then take them to the clothes room.  This room was full of everyone’s personal clothes – all hanging there neatly displayed on racks and all labelled with the residents names.  Here they would be stripped of their hospital issue blue or grey shirts and grey ill-fitting pants (often in need of some repair) and dressed in their very own nice clean clothes to be presented at their best before their family and friends.

Of course following the visitation they would be reclothed in the hospital garb, shunted back into the yard and their personal clothes hung back up for next time.

The Institution rules!
Bob Goodwin – StoriesAndPlays.com

 

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