The house was spotless. I'd just managed to climb through the broken window without rupturing myself in order to reach the lady who'd fell over and was unable to get herself up.
Every scrap of furniture was as least forty years old. The wallpaper was ancient, but immaculate. The kitchen had it's original fittings, and even the drinking glasses looked to be years old.
You could open it as an attraction, a 'history house' to show how people used to live in those post-war years.
The two concessions to modernity were a small television and a telephone.
After checking that she hadn't been injured in the fall we sat our patient in a chair – the first thing she did after ten hours on the floor was to reach for a cigarette.
I let her know that we'd wait for her to finish it before driving her off to hospital.
The police, who'd accompanied us to the call in order to help us gain entry, were asking a few questions of the patient. They have their own paperwork to fill in. They were obviously concerned for the lady, they kept asking about carers and community alarms. They asked me if the hospital would help arrange such things.
The police would stand guard over the house until the council sent someone to board up the window that we had broken to gain access. They asked the lady if she had any money in the house.
She named a large figure.
“Better keep that with you”, suggested the police officer. I suspect that he didn't want to get the blame if it went missing. I can't fault his logic.
So, along with the patient, we took this sum of money to the hospital. As usual it was packed with patients and seemed a bit low on staff.
I handed over the patient's history and then explained about the money.
It's always amusing to see the nurse in charge's face sink, and then listen to them swear at you.
I remember when I was a nurse that one of the worse things that can happen in the day to day running of the department is for a patient to bring in more than £20. We can kill as many patients as we like, but if money goes missing then nursing careers become a little less…secure.
So we checked and double checked the money before booking it into the safe, three of us counting it out in the psychiatric room, making sure that none of us would run off with it.
Paperwork signed, it was time to look after the patient.
To be concluded…