Marian is lying on the floor beside her bed with a duvet thrown over her.
‘I don’t know what happened, but she had that collapsible table on top of her, too.’
‘How long do you think she’s been like this?’
The carer shrugs.
‘Could be five minutes. Could be five hours. All I know is she was fine when I left her first thing.’
We check her over. She seems intact, happy enough. We stand her up, and the carer fetches a chair.
‘Marian has dementia, so she can’t really tell you much. She’s been okay recently. She does tend to get UTIs, though.’
It looks as if that might be behind the fall, so we arrange for a paramedic practitioner to come and dip her urine.
‘I’ll get you a sample before I go,’ says the carer. ‘She wears pads, so it’s difficult otherwise.’
We help set the room to rights, then have a quick look round the house to see if the Falls Team need to visit.
Marian lives in the little back room, with a bed, a fire, a sofa, a commode and a television. The rest of the house has an abandoned feel, like the family ran outside in the early seventies and never came back. The new fridge in the kitchen stands out against the yellowing units, the geometrically-patterned lino still crazing it out between the worn spots, sticks of dead plants in clay pots on the windowsill. Upstairs is no better. A threadbare carpet leading up past a row of lighter, square patches where pictures used to hang, to a landing of rooms, all junked up, beds beneath boxes, dressing tables beneath covers – everywhere a sense of the life that was lived here, a life now buried beneath a sediment of neglect, confusion, and loss.
‘She doesn’t go upstairs,’ says the carer, when we go back down. ‘But we had a new rail fitted, just in case.’
Marian is hugging a stuffed squirrel, whose bulging eyes and protruding tongue make it look like it’s being squeezed too hard.
‘Jeffrey!’ she says.
‘Hello Jeffrey. How are you today?’
She wiggles him about.
There’s a wedding photo on the mantelpiece just above the fire. A woman who looks like a younger version of Marian, arm-in-arm with a thin man whose slick black hair matches the intensity of his gaze.
‘Who’s this handsome chap?’ I ask her.
I look at the photo again, then at the carer.
The carer smiles and shakes her head.
‘Lovely!’ I say, and put it back.