My Dad’s A Goldfish – Jelly

In the great trifle debate, I’m not an advocate of jelly being included. In fact, I’m not really a jelly person. I’m sure I ate it at parties when I was a small child, possibly may even have liked it but other than a vague memory of mashing ice cream into red jelly, turning it into a pink swirl, I don’t really remember.

My mother made a kind of milk jelly with evaporated milk and I do recall eating cubes of undiluted jelly as a teenager. We’d heard or read somewhere the gelatine it contained was good for making our nails grow strong.

As an adult I have never felt the need to eat the wibbly-wobbly stuff and would never choose it on a menu – even if it did have champagne in it or liqueur soaked raspberries. I am beginning to worry though, if the time will come – when I’m in my dotage – if I will be forced to eat the stuff again?

The reason I am worrying about this is because I’ve noticed a marked tendency for nurses to order it for the Goldfish. Like me, the Goldfish would never choose jelly for pudding. His choice would be apple pie and custard, sticky toffee pudding, syrup sponge or, if it’s a cold sweet then he’d go for banoffee pie (his favourite) or a rich chocolate mousse. Okay, I know those are not all options on a hospital menu but the sponge puddings and apple pie are. Jelly ALWAYS is.

For some reason during this hospital stay it’s been impossible to fill in the menu for the Goldfish, which means the poor man has been presented with jelly on several occasions. He doesn’t eat it.

Me: “Would you like me to fill in dad’s menu card?”

Nurse: “Already done.”

Me: “How is his appetite? Is he eating better?”

Nurse: “Well, he didn’t eat his pudding.”

Me: “What was it?”

Nurse: “Jelly and ice cream. Nice and easy for him.”

Me: “But he doesn’t like jelly.”

Nurse: “He said that was what he wanted.”

Me: “It’s in the notes we brought in for you and in the notes they made on admission for likes and dislikes.”

Nurse: “I asked him what he wanted and he said he wanted jelly.”

Me: “No, you asked him if he wanted jelly and he nodded. He has dementia. If you asked him what he wanted he wouldn’t remember the list of choices and be able to decide. He can’t make choices but he is still the polite, eager-to-please gentleman he always was and so he will nod in agreement to whatever you ask or suggest.”

She scrawls NO JELLY!! on the board above the Goldfish’s bed and vanishes down the ward, no doubt swearing about stroppy family members who seem to think they know best.

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27 thoughts on “My Dad’s A Goldfish – Jelly

    • Thanks for commenting Mary. It’s the fact they think they know better than the families which is so frustrating – especially when they pay lip service to the notion of involving families.

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      • I know this is not really the same thing but I went through this with my daughter; teachers telling me what she needed, that she was an adolescent, that there really wasn’t a problem, until she stole stanley knife blades and cut herself with them. Why o why don’t the powers that be realise that families know their own better than anyone else and stop seeing them as the enemy? My dad hated being given jelly, too. I wonder if it’s (subconsciously?) insulting to them as is associated with infants.

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  1. LOL!! Reminds me of Mum on a daily basis turning down the cake that was offered with afternoon tea.
    ‘A wee cake’ll dae ye nae herm’
    Mum – ‘no, I’ve no eaten cakes for years – too sweet and they’re no guid fur me’
    ‘Och git it doon ye’ and they plonk it on the tray.
    If I happened to be there, I either ate it (purely to get rid of it you understand) , binned it, or took it away with me just to spare her having to explain why she hadn’t eaten it—even though she had emphatically NOT wanted it!!
    Don’t you just dread being in a situation where people don’t listen and you’re sitting there either eating something you hate or knowing that you’re not being listened to.
    People often take such offence when either the patient or the relatives (even politely) point out these things. Yet it seems perfectly reasonable to let likes and dislikes be known. Why ask for such-like on the forms, if it’s not going to be kept in mind?

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    • Oh, Janette I did smile at the image of you helpfully eating your mum’s piece of cake to get rid of it. I don’t know why ‘they’ don’t listen and I have no idea why they ask us to fill in forms they are then going to ignore. Nor do I understand why they so often choose to ignore information families have about the person in their care – information which is actually relevant to the care.

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  2. When Maureen was in hospital following stroke I spent 6 weeks taking food in. Maureen was confused following stroke and most of the nurses on the Independent Care Facility were Spanish. Some of them struggled to communicate. That may explain why food often arrived that Maureen said she had not ordered. I used to spend up to 6 hours a day with her when she was on the ICF, often in the kitchen heating up food that I had cooked at home.

    We often have jelly and ice cream here. Probably because the chef (me) likes it! I receive hight marks from Maureen for my meals so from what I hear, and see, she still likes the wibbly wobbly stuff.

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    • Families are not allowed to heat food in the hospital here any more. Health and safety! We might give our family members food poisoning if we don’t heat things thoroughly. The fact we feed them at home without poisoning them seems to have escaped their notice.
      I’m glad Maureen approves of your cooking – and that you both enjoy jelly. I’m sure, though, if she decided she didn’t like it any long you would not continue to try to force feed her the wibbly-wobbly stuff!

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  3. No matter how you look at it, hospital/nursing home food is a huge issue. My favorite complaint is how the food “staff” brings a tray into a room, sets it on a table far removed from the patient (who may or may not even be able to feed him/herself) and leaves. The food gets cold. By the time a family member arrives, the pudding has congealed, the meat’s cold and the gravy inedible. My friend who certainly doesn’t have dementia, but did have back surgery, had this happen time and again to her. “Well, the notes say you can feed yourself,” a nurse said. “Yes, I can,” Karen replied, “but I can’t get out of bed to get the tray of food!” Sometimes I despair of the treatment our loved ones get by insensitive people.

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    • Yep, I’ve heard of this kind of thing happen so often. My uncle was in hospital after a stroke. Although he could just about manage to feed himself he couldn’t do it while lying on his back and no one thought to put the top of his bed in an upright position when they brought the food tray.

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  4. Sounds familiar. My father used to talk of ‘the line of least resistance’ as in the minimum possible to fill in the blanks. The fact that she argued with you shows her as a bit brazen…could be accused of lying..impromptu, off-the-cuff lying of course, as opposed to premeditated lying, but just not telling the truth…

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    • Hello Frank. Thanks for dropping in. Yes, it’s unfortunate the scenario sounds so familiar to so many people. You are right, the nurse was not telling the truth because I know that not in a million years would the Goldfish have asked for jelly.

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  5. Great post. Makes for dismal reading, though. For the record – in my case, trifle is most acceptable BUT it must be jelly-free and absolutely awash with sherry-soaked-soft-fruits-and-sponge, with lashings of soft-set-custard and a thick whipped-cream topping.

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    • Thank you, Peter. Your description of a proper trifle is EXACTLY how the Goldfish enjoyed it.
      I’m in the middle of writing a new post which I hope to get up later tonight, quoting from Scotland’s chief nursing officer’s views on professionalism in nursing. I think what she has written is brilliant.

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