I wrote the following poem when I was a new RN about 25 years ago, from the point of view of a male resident in a nursing home who didn’t want to be there but had no choice. With one RN per shift the major part of my day was spent dispensing pills, and observing the sometimes frantic activity around me. I wondered what the point of all this was. These people were shuffled from pillar to post with no choice, no privacy, little independence and negligible quality of life. Why did they need to be showered and sat in their chairs by 0630? Why are Nursing homes governed by so many non-flexible rules? What is the point of living like this? Why couldn’t they take some time to choose what they wanted to wear? Why couldn’t they go outside when they wanted? So many questions. It all revolved around fitting everything within set boundaries made by the manager. Out the window with the older person’s wishes, time was of the essence, and so the manager’s rules stood. Everyone was in their chairs by 0630. What? I just didn’t get it; this isn’t what I would want for any of my relatives and looking into the eyes of these folk told me it’s not what they wanted either.

25 years later I have observed a change in how nursing homes are run, focusing more on patient centred care, respect and quality of life. To be a Nurse in a nursing home I feel you would need to be truly dedicated and this is one role that I believe should have higher pay, not less pay. Some see it as the lowest rung of a successful nursing career, where I see it as the opposite. As Nurses we should all show more interest in shaping the end of our lives to be as fulfilling and respectful as possible. Assisting people to do what they want to do and making the last legs of life as happy as possible, as really it’s in our own best interest to shape what a nursing home should be; it could be us in there one day.


The old man wanders aimlessly

Looking for eternity

Then wondering what purpose there is

To life

And Living


Lights go on at 5 sunrise

Lived right through another night

Told its morning and have to wake

Oh why

To do the same as yesterday, to do the same as yesterday

Out of death on a cold shower chair

Dick frozen off but who cares

Wanta wash myself but takes too long

“Dry yourself if you dare”

They think they help, oh so wrong, oh so wrong


The young ones

The young

Know not what has to be done

They wash, walk and eat for you

While laughter fills the lonely room, the oh so lonely room


Others kin are such a pain

These little rats run round and play

Remember when I did that too

Now I only can complain

And berate them all for their youth

Join over 77,000 nurses and midwives in NSW by becoming a valued member today.

You’ll automatically become a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation