Karla News

Willow Manor Eldercare in Lowell, MA

I work as a dietary aide in the kitchen at Willow Manor Nursing Home. My duties include washing food utensils, and ordering, preparing, and serving meals. Upon first coming to work at Willow Manor, I heard that it was one of the cleanest nursing homes in the state, or was it nation? My first impression of the nursing home supports this claim. However, after working there for several months, I’m not so sure that the place is that clean. Before I worked here, I had a preconcieved notion that nurses and doctors were always serious and hardworking while on duty. Little did I know..nurses and doctors are just like us – they’re normal. They slack off, talk on their cell phones while on duty, eat the patients’ food when their patients refuse to eat..the list can go on and on. On the other hand, I was a bit nervous upon first working here especially being around the residents. You can say I was afraid of the residents. You can even say that I was nervous around them because I thought that they were “abnormal” in some way.

So how clean is Willow Manor? For one thing, rats are present in the nursing home. It is not uncommon for a kitchen staff to discover half eaten bread left over from these culprits. For a long time, the residents have been using old and worn-out food utensils to eat their meals .

I have been working at this nursing home for eight months now, and it was only last week that the nursing home got new food utensils.

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Do you have any idea how dirty the utensils were before? The drinking glasses and cups, for one, were scratchy and unclean.

Once you take them out of the dishwasher, just rub your fingers on them, and you can feel film on your fingers. Eww…yuck, you must be thinking! As for the food, that’s a different story. The kitchen sure loves to keep leftovers! The tunafish, for example, looks gross. There’s too much fat in it from the excess mayonnaise, and it’s not fresh, but soggy and watery. If I was old and needed nursing home care, I would not live at Willow Manor. I would not eat the food everyday for one thing! The food does not look very healthy. The meat, especially when grilled, baked, or fried, is very greasy. If I ate that everyday for a few weeks, I would have gained a lot of weight. In addition, the food portions for the residents are very meager. A typical meal includes: one medium-sized piece of meat, a half a cup of vegetables, one slice of bread, one 8-oz. of juice and milk, and a half a cup of fruit. Can you be full from that? I know I can’t!

The nurses and doctors are very typical people. They talk about going clubbing, joke around while working, show off their dance moves when they want to, and gossip about the patients. I even find them shirking their duties sometimes too. When many of the residents have left the dining room after eating their meals, it is my duty to gather all the food utensils and clean up the dining room. There are a few times where I have to wait for the nurses to finish feeding their patients. They could have finished feeding their patients a while ago, but they were too busy talking to each other. Thus, because they were shirking their duties, I couldn’t finish my cleaning up on time, which I find irritating. Another annoyance I have concerns some of the nurses’ superficiality. Some of the nurses are rather condescending and rude. They talk to me as if I was a child, an uneducated child to be more specfic. I am indeed not a child! I am a twenty-year old woman who is in her third-year of college!

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So how about the residents? Most of the residents seem very nice and “normal”. Most of them don’t even look sick at all. Although a large majority are in wheelchairs and don’t walk, some of them have a certain vivacity to them. One resident I know, Shirley, is always talking non-stop. There’s never a day when I didn’t hear her talk. As for John, he seems very intelligent and thoughtful. I often see him reading large paper-back novels and talking about politics and history. On the other hand, the rest of the residents are not so lively. They don’t talk very much and seem rather stolid. If you talk to these residents, they might reply to you at times, while ignoring you at other times. Furthermore, most of the residents are very pleasant and easy to get along with. However, there are some who are constantly complaining about their food or medical services.

Working at Willow Manor is a mixed bag. Sometimes, my workday is pleasant and calm, whereas, some days are hectic and overwhelming.

There are times when the nurses, doctors, and residents make me irritated. And there are times when I am happy being around these people. My workdays at Willow Manor are always unpredictable. I never know whether it is going to be a good day or a bad day.