Harry reminds me of a Rock ‘Em! Sock ‘Em! robot. He’s got the grimace, the crouch, the crooked arms, the bunched fists. He’s also got a significant skin flap on the top of his head from where he toppled forward half an hour ago. The carer has done her best to tidy him up, but Harry is an aggressive dementia patient at the best of times and his head injury has only made him worse. Without plenty of hands to help it’s impossible to get anything done. The crevices of his ancient face are stained with drying blood, in contrast with the dull, milky white hostility of his eyes.
‘I’ll muckin’ do you,’ he says, swinging his arms backwards and forwards. ‘I’ll knock yer muckin’ lights aht.’
If it wasn’t for the wound, it would be tempting to rest a hand on the top of his head and keep him at arm’s length; as it is, we have to inveigle him into our chair, swaddle him tightly in blankets, and strap him in securely. When the carer bends down to put his shoes on, Harry tries to kick her.
‘Gerd aht’avit’ he says.
We strap his legs, too.
It’s a shame we can’t treat the head wound here, but it’s just too deep, and aside from the stitches and sedation, he’ll need a close watch for any developing head injury.
‘Will you be able to spare a member of staff to come with Harry?’ I ask the carer.
Just at that moment, there’s a crash from the room next door, followed by a high-pitched scream and anguished shouts for help.
For a moment I think the carer might cry. She pushes her hair away from her face with the back of a gloved hand, then takes a steadying breath.
‘No,’ she says after a moment. ‘Sorry.’
And hurries out to see what’s happened.