Singing "Clementine" to Keep from Screaming

The second shift was responsible for baths which could be challenging, as some of the folks were not keen on the process.

The Laurelton bathrooms were large high ceilinged rooms with toilet stalls, showers, and a tub.  Floors, walls and ceilings were tiled and created tremendous echos when people objected to their baths.

Marion was non-verbal normally, but she could sing all of the radio ad jingles, Christmas carols, and anything else staff wanted to sing.  If one could keep her singing for the length of her shower, she would forget to scream in protest.  "Clementine" was one of Lynn Ellen's favorites as it had so many verses.  "Old Mac Donald " was a favorite with other staff.

One tiny older lady, Doris, really resisted her shower.  Somewhere in her life, she had lost a couple of fingers of of her hand and it left her with an incredibly strong pincer grip.  She would grab staff by the arm and shout, "Come on now, don't!  You're getting me wet!".

The bathtubs were ancient huge glorious porcelain ones with claw feet and could just about float some of the smaller folks. In the beginning there were no such things as tub lifts and it would take two staff to get a person from a wheelchair to the tub.  In some buildings, there were wooden steps with handrails for ambulatory people to climb up, but it was a bit nerve wracking for staff to assist.

First prize for heart-stopping performance went to Todd (aka "Weezer") who was non-ambulatory, but would scoot across the tile floor, reach up to grab the lip of the tub, haul himself up, and do a kind of forward roll into the tub with a delighted chuckle.

It was a great day when hydraulic lift chairs were installed.

One mishap with the lift occurred when good-natured Chas was lowered into a tub full of water and his cheery blue-eyed smile turned to horror and he squawked.  The water was cold! The lift quickly rescued him and the tub was drained and refilled and Chas had a happy warm bath.

Another innovation was "plastic bath boards", perforated to drain water and with hooks to suspend them over the tub.  It was a great saving of staff backs, as lifting people in and out of deep tubs was a strain.  But, the bath boards were not as much fun for the people as soaking in a warm bubble bath.  Non-ambulatory folk were laid on a large padded changing table for drying and dressing for bed.  Then they were lifted into wheelchairs for supper or for transport to bed.

There was a great deal of lifting to be done each afternoon and evening and staff were told always to lift with two people but staffing levels often made that impossible.

Whatever the challenges, the folks were clean and tidy when tucked into their beds at night.

By Lynn Ellen D.