Scenario 10: Catriona

Catriona is a lady in her early 70s. She is a quietly spoken individual whose first language is Gaelic. Over a period of time Catriona becomes increasingly unwell and most of her family moves away. She decides that she should live in a care home.

Catriona has now been a resident in the care home for a number of years and has seen many comings and goings, not least of staff. The care home was recently taken over by a new organisation which has brought with them their own way of doing things. There is a new manager who has introduced many ‘improvements’, including a reduction in the time which residents are allowed to spend in their own room, encouraging them to take meals together in the dining room, a restriction of access to food during non-meal times and a significant change in the menus at meal times. He argues that these are all undertaken to ensure proper diet, reduce obesity and to improve socialisation.

For someone like Catriona these changes are unwanted and strike her as an infringement of her own freedom to do what she wants to do within her own home. She much prefers eating in her room, having a chat with the care staff and watching her television. The staff leave Catriona with a tray of food in her room whilst they focus on the residents in the dining room. However, Catriona does not like the new food and often only nibbles at it, leaving most of it untouched. Over a few weeks Catriona begins to lose weight quite markedly.

One of the biggest changes brought about is that many of the new staff are not Gaelic speakers. Previously, Catriona loved being able to have a chat in her own tongue. One of the care workers in the home previously used to switch Catriona’s television or radio over to the Gaelic channels when she was on shift, but she has now left. There is now no one who can speak to Catriona in her mother tongue and no-one who switches the radio or television over.