There is, in fact, no profession which requires more tact and patience than that of the nurse. Above all, the matron and staff of a nursing home require these qualities, for the patients paying well have generally an unreasonably high idea of the demands which they are entitled to make on their nurses. The strain of taking care of rest-cure cases is the most severe of all, and the nurses engaged in this work should themselves have plenty of rest, good food, and recreation.
An Instance of the Need of Tact
It is a very inadvisable practice, if it can possibly be avoided, for a matron or proprietor to have her family living in the home. For one thing, the confidence and privacy of the patients has to be scrupulously respected. Many strange cases come to a nursing home, and there should be no opportunity for a leakage of their affairs to the outside world.
As an instance of the diplomacy and care required in the management of some patients, a well-known matron once said to the writer, "I think one of my strangest cases was a titled woman, whose nerves, apparently under the strain of a society life, had completely given way. She came to me for a ' rest-cure,' but for a long time I feared her case was hopeless. For one thing, her relations insisted on giving her, when the nurse had left the room, liqueur sweets, although the doctors had strictly forbidden all stimulants. The doctor could not entirely forbid them visiting her, neither could I examine their pockets. To add to my difficulties, the patient wept night and day without ceasing, that being the especial form of her malady, and it was a trial for the most strong-minded nurse to remain in such an atmosphere of unceasing tears. She was convinced that she was placed in the home to be poisoned, and before she would take any food, we had to call in someone not in nursing dress to taste it, and prove it was not poisoned. She eventually recovered, and was sent home practically cured."
Very often the difficulty experienced by the nurse is not to persuade patients that they require medical attention, but to make them believe that there is nothing the matter with them at all, except that they are leading too luxurious a life, and are suffering from the unromantic ailment of indigestion. Yet there are, alas! many tragic life-stories and but few comedies hidden behind the doors of a nursing home.
Infectious cases, of course, cannot be taken into an ordinary home, and special permission must be obtained from the authorities to take them at all. Not very long ago, an enterprising woman in London made a very good opening for herself by starting a small home in the suburbs for infectious cases alone. One of the great London hotels subsidised the home, because so often people from abroad or even from the country came to stay at the hotel and developed measles or scarlatina or some other infectious illness with which the ordinary nursing homes could not cope. Very often children were the victims, and the hotel, of course, could not keep them. They at once, therefore, supported the undertaking. But this lady cannot, of course, take any other kind of patient, and increasing competition from the private homes of hospitals will doubtless soon make even such an original idea as this difficult to carry out. It would be dangerous, therefore, to recommend this as a likely opening.
Very few homes have convalescent branches of their own in the country or at the sea, but they are generally in touch with one to which patients can be sent if they so desire.
Of these convalescent homes there are two kinds, the one for persons of ordinary independent means, and the other for gentlewomen of limited means who are often sent down by the society or league which has helped to pay their operation fees. There are two or three of these gentlewomen's medical aid societies in London alone. These, and the question of convalescent homes in general, will be dealt with in a forthcoming article.
By A. B. Barnard, L.l.a.
"To open a boarding-house is one thing, to keep it open another; and to make it a really profitable affair is no easy matter. Sometimes it is the management, sometimes the catering, and sometimes the personality of the proprietress which hinders success.
Probably every reader of this article can recall some seaside boarding-house she never wishes to see again, and another, less luxurious, perhaps, to which she hopes to return with friends in her train.
It is worth while for any woman contemplating the starting of a boarding-house to consider well the causes that produce favourable and unfavourable impressions, so that she may try to safeguard herself against failure.
Now a house that holiday-makers like to visit is one where the meals are well cooked, punctually served, the menu as varied as possible, and the food, however plain it may be, nourishing and of good quality, and the table arrangements spotlessly clean and dainty. Of equal importance is a comfortable, clean bed, with soft pillows. It may be thought superfluous to emphasise this matter, but experience proves that it is not so.
Another essential is a good water supply. A stay in a house situated in lovely country may be spoilt through old-fashioned sanitary arrangements and brackish drinking water. Visitors may put up with little inconveniences if they can get these three necessaries - good food, pure water, and comfortable beds.
As to the house and its contents, the furniture must be modern, as good and attractive as can be had for the capital to be spent on it; but it is a mistake to put into a bedroom any article that is not absolutely necessary. Boarders' own luggage will occupy empty spaces, and a bare mantelpiece and chest of drawers' top are more appreciated than the most treasured ornaments and curios of the proprietress.