The journey to rundown
During my first few months at a previous nursing home, housekeeping/maintenance routinely came in and painted behind my bed after I got out of it in the morning. They kept up with preventive maintenance which impressed me. Back then, the housekeeping supervisor made sure the facility was clean and the floors were shiny.
When I arrived, the facility was a little over 10 years old. It was decorated in mid-80s green and pink. But, over time the wallcoverings lost their luster and the wallpaper below the handrail discolored. To spruce it up inexpensively, they painted the lower wallcovering. But after several coats of paint the wallpaper became loose and had to be removed.
I knew it was difficult to remodel the facility when residents and staff needed to use it. Many times corporate executives visited and said they were going to install new flooring. However, over time they only repaired or replaced small things. They did not replace the flooring. Housekeeping and maintenance repaired things as best they could with low-cost materials.
During that 10-year period the facility's owners did not invest in improving the building. During much of the time the census was frequently 95 residents, which meant a lot of wear and tear on the facility—especially on the inside.
It was hard for me to watch the building become run down. Administrators tried to improve things in small, reasonably priced ways, like painting. But, the facility needed a major outside improvement—a new culvert. The administrator at the time told me the culvert would allow the land around the facility to drain. But, he said corporate felt the cost of a new culvert was way too high. Consequently, after significant rainfalls water laid in pools around the footer.
When the shower room needed new tile and upgrading, it would be down for a week or two. That meant both units’ showers were done in one shower room. The aides had to adjust their schedules to get things accomplished. One summer the facility was reroofed. A few months later ceilings in a few rooms fell in. They found the joists were weak, replaced them, and those sections were reroofed.
Many times I sat outside and wondered how the building would look in another 10 years. I knew I was getting older and wrinkly as time moved on. At the time the building seemed to be aging faster than me.
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.