The Dutch writer Arnon Grunberg will have two weeks to live and contribute in a Belgian nursing home. In The Standard, he will submit a diary to keep track of. “I want to experience how it is to work there and patient.”
“How’s life?” That question try the Dutch writer Arnon Grunberg for years to answer for a while ‘to walk’ in unknown worlds: slaughterhouses, behind-the-scenes in a hotel, in the military, in psychiatry. This and next week, he moves into a room in the local social services, nursing home Southern in Ghent, where both older people and younger people with dementia reside. His experiences he wrote down in The Standard, in eleven episodes.
Do you live or work?
“I’m focused on the side of care. Every day I walk with a certain function: the physical therapist, the nurse, the geriatric, and so on. In 2013 I was in Zoersel in a psychiatric hospital, and I was under the patients. But here, it seemed better to have as much as possible, from the perspective of the nurse or doctor, the residents get to know.’
What do you think concretely do?
“In my projects, there are often things that cannot legally, and that is certainly true for medical procedures. But what I can do, I also want to do. I’m not there as a fly on the wall. As a lay person, you can probably help someone who steers must be out of bed must be removed or who are in a wheelchair needs to be pushed.’
You are all often in nursing homes?
“I have a lot of experience in make: both of my parents layers a long time in hospitals and I ran in Zoersel and with the suicide in Rotterdam. But real intensive care in nursing homes, I know very little, just the reason why I want to do.’
What image do you have of this type of device?
“When a retirement home is the first thing that comes to mind is something deprimerends. It is a kind of precursor of the afscheidnemen, so not very exciting. But I start projects with the idea to bias to correct, if necessary. And I start also preferably with as little ideas as possible, and an open mind.”
Are you aware of the problems in the care?
“I am a newspaper reader, so I realize very well that the question ‘how much should it cost?’” central. And that that funding issues are often at the expense of quality. Am or you know someone who is in a nursing home stay, you will always find that the care is more intensive. If someone has an hour to wait in a dirty diaper, to the flat to say, is that a very long time. But on the other side – of those that the money should be provided – you can hear that it’s all expensive, that more can not. Everyone has only so much time for patients. More contact being made, especially by managers as undesirable seen. While it does have a very different feeling when nurses and doctors take the time to personally to talk to you, than when they are fast, professional, but efficient in their operations. I also hope there is a very clear picture about to get. How human is such a facility? Or how much it looks like a factory?’
Why are you coming to a home in Ghent?
‘Because the Netherlands did not succeed, just as in the psychiatry. I had several Dutch hospitals bone caught, so I put out a call on my website. And then have two Flemish establishments responded. Apparently in Belgium they are slightly less scared for writers (laughs).’
Starting tomorrow, each day an episode from the Southern.