Long Term Care
Perzine, Christine Comeau, christinec.storenvy.com, $5 + postage
“And so nursing’s a pretty humbling and down-to-earth profession,” writes Christine Comeau. Comeau describes learning what many nursing students discover too late: that they’re in the wrong field.
To be safe, she takes a job as a health care assistant. Long Term Care documents four months working at a long-term care residence, acquainting the reader with some of the patients and coworkers alike. The whole thing is retold in a keenly observed and highly readable way. Unfortunately, despite some moments of levity, it doesn’t sound like it was a very positive experience.
Comeau details some of the problematic aspects of the workplace culture in long-term care that have a deleterious effect on the psyches of residents and caregivers alike. Despite only “lasting” four months, her zine vividly describes complex interpersonal dynamics, which is pretty impressive considering that these experiences were all translated from their francophone context. Comeau navigates inappropriate touching, petty politics of other care workers, the challenge of building trust with vulnerable patients, and one instance of homophobia. She seems to handle stressful situations with maturity and grace, but by the third month, she finally realizes some-thing: she doesn’t like her job.
At the core of Long Term Care are the ethical considerations of following orders and the desire for change. She wonders when it’s appropriate to try to solve problems, and when it’s best to just keep one’s mouth shut and follow along. She also asks, when is it wrong to obey or trust certain orders? She comes to learn that too much compassion can be a liability in that line of work, but her desire for improving the system is real. She writes,“How can I work for the well-being of my community? How do we gather the power that’s necessary to make things change?”
You don’t need to be personally invested in nursing or healthcare to connect with this short, but affecting zine.