Monday, May 14, 2012

About a question...

"What? No cabbage? I guess I'll just suffer."
I work in a senior community. I love it, I truly do, and the biggest reason is the residents. That's not to say that it's always fun. Our community has resident councils that are supposed to serve as a vehicle to give the residents a voice and a way of communicating and working with the staff. Note the term "supposed to." The monthly meetings often turn into a forum for complaints. Not that all of these are unwarranted, but especially with a certain type of individual who always looks for something to be wrong, these meetings can quickly turn into a laundry list of everything that makes these people unhappy. And unfortunately, with their generation, it's deemed rude or bad manners to express yourself and do things like send your meal back if it's unsatisfactory. As much as we encourage people to immediately contact their server and send their meal back for a replacement if their food is cold or the wrong item or not to their liking, few often do.

They prefer, instead, to save up their complaints for the monthly council meetings. Now, part of this is attention-getting tactics, no doubt. Why quietly mention your displeasure to your server when you could get up in front of a crowd and talk about what you don't like? WITH A MICROPHONE!! We had one woman who actually had a list, written on the back of an envelope, of everything that had displeased her that month, including other residents. She did not bring any of these issues to staff's attention prior to this, so we weren't able to address or take action on any of these items until they were already well into the past. Fortunately, after we pointed out to her that the problems could be solved much faster if she'd let us know about them as they happened, she has become much better about not stockpiling her grievances.

"I disapprove of you. In general."
Now, please don't think that our dining or food in this community is terrible. It's very good, actually. It's just that food is an easy thing to complain about. The vast majority (about 75%) of our population is women, and in between cooking for their families and/or careers in restaurants, they all have some experience with food, as opposed to maintaining fire doors or air conditioning.

Anyway, you can see that these monthly council meetings are a LAFF RIOT and we all look forward to them. Not. Some days, with the hearing difficulties, participants falling asleep, and the slight decline in mental faculties, the meetings can take on an Abbott and Costello-type comedy routine flavor. Take, for example, this exchange from a council meeting a few months ago:

Nurse: So if anyone has any other questions about medication disposal, please let me know. Okay?
sees resident in front row with hand in air

Nurse: Yes, Rose*? You have a question?

Rose: Spanish rice should have green peppers.

Nurse: Okay, Rose, that is a question for dining, and Boris will be taking any food or dining questions next after I'm finished. So, you may also have noticed that we have a new policy regarding visitors signing in. Please make sure anyone who visits you signs in on the guestbook at the table near the RA office. Any questions?
sees resident with her hand in air

Nurse: Yes, Rose?

Rose: Rolls should be soft, not hard.
"Hey, Lou, orange ya glad I didn't say banana?"

Nurse: Okay, Rose, let's save our food concerns for dining, okay? Now, one last thing. We've been noticing people out for walks without the proper clothing. Even though it's spring, it's still chilly, so be sure to wear your jacket if you're going out for a stroll. Okay, does anyone have anything else for me?

Nurse: Yes, Rose?

Rose: Potato soup should be creamy, not watery.

Nurse: (in defeat) Boris, why don't you go now and talk about dining?

Boris gets up and announces the new menus, talks about the issue with the AC in the dining room, asks for any questions. Rose keeps her hand down.

*names have been changed to protect the inattentive