To speak or not to speak

During our internships and classes, we learn that when playing at the bedside, talking as little as possible is best. Most of the time I wouldn’t even introduce myself, I would just go in and play. Then I learned that maybe it’s nice to introduce myself and even ask if the person wanted to listen to some music. Sometimes. Depending on my perception of the alertness of the patient. Of course, if a patient spoke, we learned it’s ok to respond as long as we don’t turn it into a conversation and try to steer the patient from turning it into a conversation.

The hospice job, however, is very different. Working in nursing homes is not at all like working in the hospital because the residents aren’t necessarily very ill unless of course I’m in the nursing or dementia unit. Conversing can be ok as long as we stick to the rule of not giving out too much personal information. That is up to the individual to decide. I don’t mind telling residents my name is Kitty and I’m from Philadelphia. Group hours can be awkward because I’m still used to not speaking. I’ve come up with a little spiel, and sometimes I remember to introduce songs. I’ve gotten better over time. The lunch hours are even more confusing because I’m supposed to be background music, but they treat it like a performance and clap after every song. I’d like to be able to tell them that it’s ok to focus on their lunch and not clap! Though one, I’m still trying to be in the background, and two, it doesn’t really seem my place to tell them not to clap. I just feel kind of bad for the ones who do want to eat, but might feel they should clap because everyone else does.

Yesterday I finally started back on my list of songs to learn. This one is a little more difficult, but I’ve mostly got it: Days of Wine and Roses – by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini for the 1962 movie of the same name. Someone asked for it a long time ago – I think in a lunch room.

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