Lets imagine that you are old and need a bit of care in your home – simple stuff, nothing too taxing, just a bit of a hand to help you wash when you wake up. Maybe you need help with some of the fiddly little tablets you have to take. Perhaps you just need someone who’ll help you keep your flat tidy.
Then, for the sake of argument, lets say you’ve had a bit of a fall – nothing too serious, it’s just that your legs are starting to get a bit weak, and you don’t want to use the walking frame the hospital has given you. You are lying by your front door – so when you use your community alarm you are able to let your carer in and then the ambulance people.
The ambulance people quickly check you over while you are on the floor – they let you know that they don’t want to pick you up if you’ve broken your leg. So you let them examine you, and finding nothing, you ask them if they can just put you in your normal chair by the television. You wonder why the ambulance crew are tutting at your carer for not at least putting a pillow behind your head while you were stuck on the floor.
The ambulance crew help you up and put you into your favourite chair. As you aren’t hurt by the fall you don’t want to go to the hospital – you’ll only sit in the department for several hours before some young doctor tells you that you should be using your walking frame. It’s easier to sit in your own flat. The ambulance people seem pretty nice though, and they want to give you a full physical check up to make sure that there is nothing obvious that would cause you to fall.
You tell the ambulance people that you’ve been having a few falls, as your legs have been getting a bit weaker recently, but that you get around alright and that you have the community alarm button around your neck should you get into any trouble. The ambulance people try to persuade you to goto hospital, but you refuse again. One of the ambulance people checks various pulses and pressures and sugars and heart tracings before agreeing that you can refuse to go with them.
The ambulance person is looking around your flat and tutting at the carer again. He doesn’t like it that as he walks around he is making a crunching noise as he crushes your tablets which are strewn all over the carpet. It’s not your fault that you sometimes drop them, I mean, it’s not the carers job to make sure that you can take your pills.
The ambulance man then tells you that as you don’t want to go to hospital, would you mind if we got your GP out to see you. You agree and the ambulance man says that your GP might be able to arrange to have handrails put on your walls – it sounds like a good idea as you really don’t like using the walking frame. You tell the ambulance man your GP’s phone number but he doesn’t want to borrow your phone. He tells you that if his Controller phones the GP then the call is recorded so if the GP promises to come out then they darn well better. You wonder why the ambulance man is so distrusting of GPs.
The ambulance man then disappears for a bit into the kitchen, he’s talking to the carer before she leaves. You can’t hear what he says, but his voice seems a little forceful.
The ambulance man comes back and asks you one last time if you’d like to go to hospital, you refuse and the ambulance man reminds you to use the walking frame for getting around – and also to make sure that you have your emergency button on you at all times. He tells you that he is only a phone call away. He picks up his equipment and prepares to leave.
You’ve enjoyed chatting to him and his partner, so you try to keep up a conversation – the only person you regularly see is your carer, and she doesn’t talk to you much – she hasn’t said a word to you while the ambulance people have been here. The ambulance people stay and have a chat with you, but they can only stay ten minutes. But at least those ten minutes is ten minutes of conversation you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
The ambulance people wave goodbye to your carer as she walks out the door without saying a word.
Ten minutes later you wave goodbye to the ambulance people, and you are left on your own until the evening carer comes.
Downstairs in the ambulance, an EMT’s heart breaks just a little.