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In search of a manicurist (for the disabled)

April 4, 2011
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I have not had a professional manicure for a long time. The activity aides at my previous facility always did my nails and they looked very nice. But I remember the days when I got manicures, and the hand massages in particular made me feel so relaxed.

Last fall, when I arrived at this facility, the activity had no time to do my nails. So my driver took me to a nail salon and I requested a manicure. The manager said he would rather not do one. He felt I was more susceptible to infection because my hands did not open completely. I was a bit surprised but I went along with his wishes, and I could only get my nails cut, buffed, and polished.

After months without a manicure my cuticles looked ragged. When the aides asked why the nail techs were not doing a manicure, I explained the salon manager's concern about me getting an infection. They were also surprised and thought I should be able to get a manicure. Later, two of them got out my supplies and pushed my cuticles back. My nails looked better but I knew these aides would not always have the time to help me.

For a couple of months since then, my female driver has done my nails. She is a nursing assistant and does a pretty good job. But I want a backup plan if she is unable to do them.

Last week I went out to see if I could find a salon that would do a manicure. When I entered the salon at the mall, I requested a manicure and polish change. The man at the front desk directed me to the back of the salon where an Asian nail tech told me I should not have my natural nails manicured nor should I wear nail polish. Why? Same response as before: because my hands do not open completely.

I assured her I have had many manicures and have been wearing nail polish for years without problems. She strongly disagreed, so I asked if she wanted me to leave. When she looked toward the man up front, a long discussion began in their native language. The only word I recognized was “infection.”

When she would not do a manicure, I settled for getting my nails trimmed and buffed. But during the trimming the tech cut me and quickly used a coagulant to stop the bleeding. Since I had a cut, she refused to apply nail polish. When I told her I wanted polish, she refused again. Then reluctantly she picked up a bottle of base coat and slapped some on. When I asked for another, she refused.

I could not believe she would be so rude, but I paid what I owed and left. I asked my driver if we could sit for a minute in the mall. I had never been treated like that anywhere and I was really frustrated.

I understand that the nail techs might not feel comfortable doing the nails of a quadriplegic woman. But they could have been a bit kinder about it.

So I am still looking for a professional who will give me a manicure. In the meantime my female driver will be doing it. But it would be nice to know that a professional could do it for me—a nursing home resident—when I want to treat myself.

Kathleen Mears


Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...




I can't imagine how frustrating that must be for you to hear each time you go, no matter what salon you visit. But it appears they are being consistent across the profession. I do wonder if you will find someone who is willing to perform the manicure.

This reminds me of a funny story I heard on the plane today, flying down to Orlando for the ALFA conference. I was seated next to a woman who turned out to be a home health aide. She said a relatively new resident of hers, an elderly lady with dementia, asked for her nails to be painted the first time they met. The aide said she was excited and applied a layer of pink polish to the woman's nails. Halfway through, the resident became concerned, saying her husband would not approve of the choice in color, and they had an extended dialogue about her marriage.

When the aide told this story to her co-workers, who knew of the resident, they all began laughing. The woman's husband had been deceased for 15 years. The aide said she now looks forward to caring for this resident every day, because she never knows what to expect, and cherishes all of their conversations as if she were a long-time friend.

I'm so sorry that you had to go through this.
Not all manicurist feel uncomfortable with people who have a disability. I build my business around seniors and adults who are disabled.
I've been a mobile manicurist for 4 years.
I live in CA. If you lived here in my area I would be delighted to have you as a client :)