This week, we commemorated the 3rd year of CAMIE’s existence, as well as achieving our milestone of 1000 days of restraint-free interventions.
It was such joy to be present in the celebration, it was an amazing pride to be part of it. Let me tell you why.
As you may already know, CAMIE means Care of the Acute Mentally Infirmed Elderly. A project started 3 years ago with a selected bunch of nurses to pioneer the unit. At that point in time, I was sure a number of us felt very uncertain about the whole thing. Was it doable? Were we fit for the job? What were we in for? But we’d never know unless we actually try, so we took a leap of faith and soldier on. Hand in hand, we took up the job of caring for people with dementia, at the same time nursing their acute medical issues. Being a fairly new nurse back then, I wasn’t decided if that was what I wanted to do for a long time. I wasn’t even sure of my life, heck. What more having the confidence in taking care of a whole lot of confused, delirious elderly.
But three years on, standing there in the midst of the festivity, I realised I have never been so sure in my life. That I have taken this calling to heart, and I know there’s nothing I’d rather do, or associate myself with. I am a proud geriatric nurse, and a very proud dementia nurse. We don’t always get the recognition we deserve & we certainly don’t always get remembered by our patients. The lessons I get from nursing every single person with dementia were more than enough to balance out the lack of acknowledgement. And the bliss that balloons up my heart when I get glimpses of the persons behind the disease, is indescribable. No words can define that great satisfaction.
It has been a crazy 3 years, like roller coaster rides, we won’t deny this. Nurses came and left, patients lived and died. Ironically, what I am really sadly happy about is how (only) a handful of us pioneer nurses are still around to savour the fruits of our labour. And what I am proud of is how we managed to convince a few more nurses of the pleasure of caring for people with dementia. It is from this ability to care for PWD, that we become even more capable & patient in caring for elderly in general.
And who would have believed it, we achieved what most people thought (or still think) we could not achieve. 1000 days (and counting) of restraint-free. We did it, we painstakingly did it. All it took was for us to be human, to empathise, and to willingly spend that time to resolve the problems. It also required creativity & patience. But most of all, it necessitates love. Can you see the love in our eyes in the photo above, lol.
Of course, there are the non-believers, the sceptics, the cynics. Until today, despite the 1000 days milestone, they still scoff at the possibility. They mock and they jeer at our attempts, and it is extremely disappointing that some of them were supposed to be our role models. It is also discouraging that I had to learn the hard way – that in this profession, not everyone celebrate our successes, our trials & tribulations. All we really want to do is to show you that impossible can be possible, that people with dementia can live well. All we ask is for you to respect that, the same way we respect your own set of skills and knowledge in your area of expertise.
These CAMIE angels are the most knowledgeable, understanding, loving nurses I have ever worked with in my entire life. I cannot be prouder to call them my comrades, my happy pills; and with them I am certain we can take on any challenges together. Our team’s support is something I treasure, we laugh & cry over cups of coffee to keep us going. And we mustn’t forget our lovely team doctors, all the other healthcare professionals & volunteers who have never fail to support us throughout. It is incredibly soothing to be able to share our thoughts and opinions with the team, knowing they won’t brush us off or take us lightly. Team work is essential, I learnt that from working with all these wonderful people.
So, thank you all. We wouldn’t have done it without one another. ♥
I hope our work inspires someone out there, the same way it had inspired me once upon a time.