When I first came to this facility, they didn’t serve water as a matter of course on the meal trays. Most of the trays had Kool-Aid (more than one glass), some had milk, and others had coffee. Every day dietary would give me one or two glasses of water to drink with the meal. However, sometimes they forgot and I would have to ask for it. I always wondered why it was not served with meals.
Two years ago when a new activity aide began her job, the nurse manager asked activities to pass ice and water before meals. Since the residents liked Kool-Aid and pop best, they hardly noticed. Many brought their pitchers with ice and water, Kool-Aid and pop to meals with them. However, after a few months of ice and water being passed before meals, some stopped bringing them.
I remember, years ago, when restaurants served customers ice water when they got to the table. It was a nice amenity and refreshing. Similarly, the residents began to depend on a frosty glass of water. I noticed many residents emptied their water glasses quickly. Since most of them drank Kool-Aid and bought pop at snack time, I am sure their bodies appreciated the water.
When ice and water became routine before meals, some aides questioned it. They wondered if management was trying to fill residents up with water so they would not request seconds. They also stridently stated that the activities staff should pass the ice because the other aides did not want another chore. They complained when there were water dribbles on the table, or ice and water on the floor, or when a glass overturned. But I, who only drank water with meals, thought it was great to get two glasses with ice.
When the facility was short staffed, and the activity aide was given other duties, no ice was passed. The same thing happened on short-staffed weekends. But, when ice did not get passed, many residents asked why loudly.
Eventually, when activities staff weren't available to pass ice, the office nurses and the housekeepers did it. They particularly helped out in the back dining room which could become toasty when the sun came through the west-facing windows.
Today, ice and water has become so much a part of the meal, residents seldom go without.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.