the three

‘Three in one day!’
‘Wow!’
‘Yeah. I think the Grim Reaper must’ve swapped his scythe for a strimmer…’

It’s certainly unusual. We’ve had several End of Life patients on the books for some time now, picking up the slack from the regular palliative agencies struggling to cope after years of cuts and under-funding. These End of Life patients are invariably double-ups – needing at least two people to deal with the complex manual handling issues relating to bed care. It’s a significant strain on the service, leaving us with little capacity for anything else. Of course, we’re all shocked to hear about the deaths; we’ve built up close relationships with the patients and their families over the weeks. But aside from the emotional impact of the loss, three patients in one day? Well, at the risk of sounding callous, it’s a dizzying release of manpower.

The carers sit round the big table at the beginning of the shift, going over the details as they write down their patients for the day.
‘So which three was it, then?’
‘Well first off was Old Mr Denton.’
‘Oh no! Lovely DD.’
‘Yeah. It’s a shame. They were just setting up the driver when he went.’
‘Still. I think most of the family made it over. He’d have been happy with that. Who else?’
‘Jenny C.’
‘That’s a shock.’
‘Tell me about it. I was there yesterday and she was showing me pictures of the new baby.’
‘That’s terrible. Poor Jenny. I hope it was quick. Who else?’
‘Errol.’
‘Oh my God! Finally!’
‘Yep. It was incredible how he hung on.’
‘I didn’t think he’d survive the pad change last night he was so bad. But he’s a fighter, I’ll give him that.’
‘Here – chuck us that eraser.’
‘Who found him?’
‘Darryl did. He was there with Jane and he said as soon as he walked in the room he knew. They checked him over, then went in to tell Jeanette.’
‘How did she take it?’
‘Pretty well. She said “Oh yes. I kind of knew he’d gone when I took his tea in and he didn’t make his usual comment.”
‘She’s a funny one. But I think it’s going to hit her hard, when all the dust’s settled.’
‘Whose biscuits are these?’
‘Have one. They’ve been kicking around for ages.’
‘You’re not selling them to me.’
‘I think Sandra found them down the back of the fridge.’
‘Three in one day!’
‘I know! That’s knocked some gaps in the rota.’
‘Won’t last.’
‘No. You’re right.’ Dunks one of the biscuits in her tea and finishes it in one swallow. ‘Never does.’

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