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I started this off but I'm so tired of it, feel awful.

(17 Posts)
Picoult Thu 02-Oct-08 21:13:25

I work in a care home. There is an old lady there in her 80s who has no family or friends outside of the home, therefore I used to make a special effort to spend time with her and be her friend. She loved this and I was told by other staff and residents that she would spend all morning sat waiting for me to get to work, even on my days off shock

I discovered that she had a passion for chess so one day offered her a game. This became a daily thing where I would play with her on my lunch hour. She became almost obssessed with these games and would get really upset if someone else was using the board on a lunch time (there was only 1 in the home).

I found out her birthday was coming up and the staff would put money together to buy her a big box of chocolates, a cake and obviously cards as she would otherwise get nothing. As it happened I was looking on ebay one night and found a gorgeous chess set, wooden with brass fixtures and drawers for the pieces etc. I bought it for £1.99 and wrapped it up for her birthday. I couldn't be there when she opened it but aparantly she cried shock and then set it up to perfection on her chest of drawers and wouldn't let anyone near it, it's become her prized possession.

Ever since we have played chess during my lunch hour. Thing is I'm really becomming bored of it and I know how awful that is going to sound. Sometimes I just want to relax and eat my lunch in peace like the other staff but she relies on me daily to keep this up. I've started dreading lunch times and sometimes even work because I can't face the thought of being stuck playing chess for another hour.

I was never a fan of chess to start with but this is tedious. None of the other staff or residents will play with her.

How do I handle this? am I being a cow?

pickie Thu 02-Oct-08 21:17:58

No, you are a very nice and gentle person! And you have worked yourself a bit into a corner but only from the good of your heart! (wish there were more people like you)

Isnt there a local chess club where you could find a 'volunteer' who likes to practice? Or even a school club?

hope you will find a replacement shortly!

HuwEdwards Thu 02-Oct-08 21:18:03

no, I think you've been a bit of an angel actually. i guess her world if probably so closed off that the importance of these games is magnified. I think you just need to be honest and tell her that you've other commitments - if you don't you'll resent her and she will pick up on it and be puzzled.

tell her you'll play maybe 1 or 2 games a week, whatever you honestly feel comfortable with.

Could the home organise a tournament to encourage other residents to play - maybe a games evening, with cards, draughts etc and everyone taking turns?

Picoult Thu 02-Oct-08 21:29:17

Thanks for being kind, I thought I'd be in for a roasting blush I keep thinking "this poor woman is in her 80s and is totally alone, and I'm getting irritable for having to give up one hour a day to spend time with her" and I feel so sad about it. She is lovely.

I'm going to suggest a tournament, it sounds like something they'd be up for and will keep an eye out for a local chess club. Thanks x

procrastinatingparent Thu 02-Oct-08 21:32:37

Find a chess-nerd or two at a local school and suggest they visit her to play games as a way of serving their local community.

HRHSaintMamazon Thu 02-Oct-08 21:35:21

what a lovely person you are Picoult.
i was going to suggest maybe asking local chess nerds to come and visit her and play with her also.

I just hope that when i am old i have someone as caring as you.

SmugColditz Thu 02-Oct-08 21:36:26

It's difficult, isn't it, when they need you so much. And because of the nature of the work, it attracts people who will sit through their lunch break and play chess with someone who has nothing else in her life.


You need your lunch break.

I suggest that you ask another member of staff to come and fetch you after 1/2 an hour to "help" with something, then you have your lunch break, and in the meantime, try to whip up some interest in the other residents. Try ringing round the other local homes to see if they have any chess enthusiasts who would fancy getting in a taxi, or perhaps this lady could be dropped off and collected somewhere herself?

We used to send one bloke to the pub once a week. The bar staff had our number, and promised (on a Monday night lol) to ring us if he left before his taxi arrived. It can be done, but sometimes the managers of homes get stuck in a routine and it can be a job persuading them to meet the residents' social needs.

Marina Thu 02-Oct-08 21:38:25

Would your line manager release you for an hour to play her, not in your lunch break - when, I would have thought, you do need some space and a break away from working with the residents.
Not every day I am sure, but your care home sounds like it has a good atmosphere.
Importing some local sixth-formers would give her some variety and you a break!

Picoult Thu 02-Oct-08 21:45:58

DH suggested getting in touch with the local univrsity and asking if any social work students would fancy spending an hour a day with her and perhaps some of the other residents. Sounds like a good idea, gives them experience and gets her meeting new people but do you think this would be possible? would the uni allow time out like this? I'm assuming not.

eviz Thu 02-Oct-08 21:48:35

You sound lovely.

If she has all her faculties I'm sure she'll understand if you have to step back on the lunchtime socialising.

Don't schools sometimes do similar programmes to the idea you're suggesting for uni students? Perhaps that's just a figment of my own imagination..

TwoPumpkins Fri 03-Oct-08 12:05:19

Also make sure at least once a week you tell her (well in advance) that you need to go into town/shops/use the computer to fill in tax forms so wont be there. Wean her gently off it. Also see if you can find another hobby to go with chess.

junkcollector Fri 03-Oct-08 15:15:13

Have you got a local timebank? Somebody there might be willing to help.

Swedes Fri 03-Oct-08 15:20:39

Could you contact a local school, perhaps their chess club members would be willing to help out? I think students have to do community things for their D of E awards so doing this may be mutually beneficial.

You appear to have reached a bit of a stalemate.

JuneBugJen Fri 03-Oct-08 15:26:43

What a lovely person you are. I think you have been so kind but agree that a couple of times a week is enough max! I need my lunch hours to decompress and not talk and would also come to resent this as a commitment.

I'm sure she would rather have you come once or twice a week willingly than every day unwillingly. I think you may need to plead 'admin' or a need to get the weekly shop on a few of these lunch hours.

NumberFour Fri 03-Oct-08 15:41:29

Wow. I take my hat off to you for being such a kind hearted and loving person. Not for a minute when reading your post did I think you were being horrible for wanting to have some of your own time to yourself!

I hope you are able to find someone to help out and give you some of your time back.

lilacclaire Fri 03-Oct-08 15:42:07

Lots of social care/social work students will be looking for placements in this line of work, so if its ok with your boss, I would suggest a few students.

Also, i think what someone else said earlier, is try and get other residents in the home into it as well, with luck you could have a few of them at it (the chess ahem) for hours!

OrmIrian Fri 03-Oct-08 15:45:02

What a sweetheart you are. That is so kind.

Is there any chance of starting up a chess club in the home amongst the residents?

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