Scenario 6: Phamie

James is visiting his mother, Phamie, in her care home one afternoon. Phamie has always been very happy there, albeit that over the months and years James has seen her become frail. This particular afternoon his mum seems quiet and withdrawn and when he asks her if there is anything wrong she begins to quietly sob. Very quickly he discovers that since his last visit the staff have begun a practice of closing the doors to residents’ rooms. Phamie tells him that this has meant that she can no longer see her friends or staff walking up and down the corridor and have a gossip. She says that lots of people feel that they shouldn’t knock on the door if it is closed. Phamie also tells her son that she feels the room gets very stuffy and that she liked the breeze which came into the room when the door was left open.

James is annoyed at this and immediately goes to speak to a staff member. The staff member tells James that they have had to make sure that all doors are closed in order to bring the home’s practices in line with fire regulations. The worker stresses to James that it is their duty to make sure that all doors are closed to prevent fire spreading and therefore keep all residents safe, and that they cannot allow residents to leave the doors ajar or to put chairs or anything else in the way which would prevent the doors from closing.

James highlights that his mother is feeling hemmed in and is losing contact with her friends because she likes the peace of her own room and doesn’t want to be in the sitting room all the time but equally she likes to see what is going on around her. The staff member apologises but says that her hands are tied as this is the policy of the home.