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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: A Fine Facility?
By Karen Ward


“Our facility is second to none. We have individual rooms, and community spaces where we hold singing, book clubs and other social activities. We provide an excellent standard of care. Your mother will be happy here, Maggie.”

“I’m sure she will. Thank you, Janice, for the welcome. I’ll just settle mother in, and I’ll be out of your hair.”

Poor Maggie doesn’t know what to do with me since the stroke. Can’t blame her I guess.


“Mrs Stacey. Time to get you changed for bed.”

Grabbing the old woman’s sloppy t-shirt at the bottom, Janice wrenched it up over her head, tugging a few times to yank it over her arms. A few moments further into the process, a tune echoed.

Her phone rings and I have to sit here naked? It’s chilly in here. I wish I could make my body work again. I’d hop over there and toss her phone in the bin before climbing under the covers.


“Good Morning Mrs Stacey, I’m Ella. Lovely to meet you.” Ella leaned down and gently touched the hand of her elderly patient.

“Do you like music? I’ll pop your radio on.” Ella began searching through the stations.

Ohh, that’s nice. Reminds me of my Bert.

Ella thought she detected a shift in her patient.

“Is this the one you like?” Hoping she was right, she left it there, and moved back to tenderly help this new lady out of her nightie, one arm at a time. Dressing her quickly, she chatted to distract her from the indignity of needing such intimate care.


The door banged open and six people filed into Mrs Stacey’s room.

“As you can see, our patients have modern rooms with the comfort of TV and radio.” Janice turned the TV on, and a soap opera sprang to life, drowning the classical music from the radio.

“They can watch whatever they like. Provided they can operate a remote of course.” Indicating Mrs Stacey’s stillness, she rolled her eyes and smirked a little.

“Otherwise, we just have to choose for them. There you go Mrs Stacey. Enjoy your Soaps.”

Janice led the trainee carers out of the room and left the TV blaring.


“I notice you brought your Bible with you Mrs Stacey. Shall I read to you?” Ella removed the worn book from the bedside table and perched comfortably on the edge of the bed.

“We’re studying James in my home group this week, would you mind if I read some of James?”

James was my Bert’s favourite book. You are an angel, Ella girl.

Was that a shift again? Ella smiled.

“James it is then.” She proceeded to read the first two chapters before closing the book and saying goodnight. Leaning in close to Mrs Stacey, she kissed her papery cheek and quietly left the room.


“You’re lucky to be here you know Mrs S. I’ve worked in much worse places than this.” Spooning food into the old woman’s mouth, Janice became frustrated when her patient refused to swallow.

“Come on now Mrs S. swallow it, or I can’t give you any more.” Waiting but a moment, she stood.

“Fine. I hope you do better at dinner. I don’t have time to baby you.”


“Don’t you like this Mrs Stacey? Or are you having trouble swallowing? Is your throat sore?”

Ella looked with concern at her dear Mrs Stacey. Janice had said she’d been difficult at lunch. Janice didn’t often have nice things to say about the patients, so Ella had ignored her, but now she was concerned.

“I’ll go and see what else there is in the kitchen. Let’s see if we can find something you like. If that doesn’t work, I’ll see if Dr Tsintoff can come and check your throat.”


"I'll leave you two to visit while I talk with the doctor." Ella followed the doctor out of the room while Maggie sat looking uncomfortable.

“So Mum. You’ve been here a week now, how are you settling in? Janice seems nice. I’m glad to know there are such efficient carers here. That last one was a bit over the top, calling in the doctor for nothing, but I feel good knowing you have Janice here.”

Lord, why is it that there is so much my daughter can’t see, when I’m the one that’s blind?

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This article has been read 993 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld02/28/08
This is an excellent depiction of contrast between Ella's tenderness and Janice's indifference, with a real punch at the end.
Peter Stone02/29/08
Oh no, the daughter ends up teaming with the indifferent nurse who talks too much, rather than the one who actually cares. Did not see that coming.
Debbie Roome 02/29/08
This is beautifully written and thought provoking.
LauraLee Shaw03/02/08
I cannot think of enough good words to say about this piece, but I'll name a few. It moved me, drew me in, tugged at my heart strings, made me cry. Ok, that's several, but it is truly a keeper. You wrote this masterfully.
Seema Bagai 03/03/08
The world needs more people like Ella in it. You realistically portrayed life in a nursing home. Great writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/04/08
I felt the helplessness of the lady who'd had a stroke and the warmth of Ella. Great characterization.
Christine Miles03/05/08
This entry made me cry too; mostly because it made me wonder what kind of person I really show to the people around me. Having been a nurse, I know I'm more of the good type, but it's always good to reevaluate what others see. Thanks!
LauraLee Shaw03/06/08
CONGRATs on your EC!!!!
Sheri Gordon03/06/08
Congratulations on your EC. You did a fantastic job capturing what unfortunately happens in way too many 'facilities.' Very good writing.
Catrina Bradley 03/06/08
Having done the job of Janice and Ella, and having worked with many carers, I can say that this perfectly illustrates the different attitudes of the aids. I hope I was more of an Ella than a Janice. Wonderful article - congrats on your EC!
Debbie Wistrom03/06/08
Congrats this was moving and thought provoking. Oh that Janice, I could just.......
Sara Harricharan 03/06/08
WOW! I'm glad I didn't miss this piece. It was very well done and directly on topic. I loved the contrast between the two and I felt so sad at the end when the daughter missed out the whole thing when she said what a great person Janice was. Huh. I would've liked to give Janice a piece of my mind! Ella was such a sweetheart though, wonderful writing, you made me really get into the story! ^_^
Suzanne R03/07/08
You've hit the topic on the head (is that the right analogy?!) beautifully, and given the reader a solid reminder of what is important too. Well done. This is a very touching piece.