We all gathered in one of the suites at the hotel in Boston to go over the Project Truth or Consequences assignment. It was surreal to say the least. I didn’t even want to think about what I might possibly be getting myself into. I was to pose as a daughter taking her Alzheimer’s stricken mother to a memory care nursing home that had, reportedly, been mistreating the residents in some way.
Caroline Simpson, who was an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, would play a big role in coaching Doris and me. We would be doing a series of role plays so we could identify the possible pitfalls we might encounter.
It was apparent that Jack had previously deferred to Mother as being the leader of the group, but he clearly saw himself taking over that position. Another thing that was very clear to me was that Annette Morris was in love with him.
The Phin’s would be posing as Mother Doris’ doctors. They would be prescribing medications, etc., which might be another reason the project had to be covert, though someone had prepared some pretty complete documentation to identify us in the role of our aliases.
Our work went late into the evening and by morning we were ready to execute our plan.
Doris and I went to the nursing home, together. We had practiced several things, like using the wheel chair, and how we would interact or not interact with each other. I would be doing virtually all of the talking. Mother Doris would be pleasant, but somewhat confused. We were met at the door and escorted to a rather nice office, where we were introduced to the Director. She stood and gave us a warm greeting and then immediately handed me several glossy brochures.
I asked several questions concerning nursing care, security, and amenities. We also discussed the number of aides to patient ratio. Throughout our conversation, I indicated I wanted nothing but the best for my mother no matter what the cost.
The place seemed lovely, and the residents appeared to be quite happy. They were enjoying singing Christmas carols while a young lady played the piano. Mother Doris was appropriately reacting to the music. She “acted” as if she was going to get up. Before I thought to stop her, an aide noticed and gently coaxed her to remain seated.
Except for the nurse’s lack of interest, which I discussed with Caroline later, were treated exceptionally well. I told the Director I would be in touch the following day and as we were leaving, inquired as to how soon a room might be available. The Director said they currently had one ready to go and with a small deposit, she would hold it until the end of the following day.
I wrote her a check.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we were debriefed by Caroline and Jack. Caroline asked if they had done an evaluation of Mother Doris. They had not, and although we were introduced to the nurse, she didn’t inquire about Mother Doris’ medications or why she was confined to a wheel chair.
Annette arranged for a gourmet dinner to be brought to the suite belonging to her, and we worked into the night again. She had also purchased and packed the things Mother Doris would be needing at the nursing home. The next day, would be moving day. We had identified enough to move forward.
“Good job, Kat,” Jack smiled broadly. “I knew you would be a natural.” (I couldn’t help but notice the scowl on Annette’s face.)
The next day, after completing the enormous package of paperwork, and paying the formidable fees, I excused myself saying I would be back in a couple of hours with my mother. I would also gather some of her personal things. I told the director that I knew my mother would not recognize her personal belongings, but it would comfort me to know she would have them with her. (She gave me a knowing smile.)
Little did the nurse and director know that hidden in those things, there would be a device that transmitted every sound and conversation occurring within the room. Doris would also have another device she would wear anytime she was absolutely sure it would not be discovered.
I was thinking there would be some opportunity to explore Boston while we waited, but that was not the way it worked. We were on duty twenty-four hours a day. The only time I was able to go anywhere was when I made visits to Mother Doris, who was staying in character quite well considering the circumstances.
It wasn’t until the third week that things started to happen. We were all in Jack’s suite when we heard voices being transmitted from the nursing home. Both the nurse and the director were in Mother Doris’ room. The Phins and Annette pulled out their pads and began to take notes.
“I think it’s time to make our move,” the nurse said. “This woman is not aware of anything and her health is failing. She won’t last much longer at this rate.”
The director pondered this a minute.
“I would sure hate to lose the fees we’re getting from her filthy rich daughter,” she said. “I guess we’re going to have to get the money another way. How much time do we have?”
“Thirty days to carryout the plan. I guess it’s been long enough since the last occurrence. It was a quite different situation, anyway. No one will ever connect the two.”
“Okay then. Start giving her the required medications while decreasing what she is currently taking.”
The nurse was unaware the pharmacy was delivering placebos in prescription bottles. Mother Doris was supposedly taking heart and diabetes medications prescribed by her doctors, the Phins.
Once again, Jack rolled out the plan.
“Caroline, you prepare Kat. She needs to be aware of all the possibilities. I hope you have a general idea of what their plan might be.”
“I do,” Caroline sounded competent and sure of herself. “Kat needs to get over there as quickly as possible. Doris must be reassured and advised. The Phin’s should be ready to go when called.”
“Right,” Jack agreed. “Annette and I will monitor the conversations, but you should come back to this room when you’re finished with Kat. I’m sure we’ll be depending on your expertise from here on out.”
Caroline and I went to another room where she outlined the things I should look for. My most important task right at the moment, was to prepare Doris. She could not take the new medications. Someone would intercept them so they couldn’t harm her. Later, they would be analyzed. That would give us tangible information that would be used to solve the mystery, and also tell us how it was supposed to affect Mother Doris.
In the other room, Jack and Annette were listening to a voice being transmitted through the wire. It was the nurse, and she appeared to be alone in the room with Doris.
“Even though you aren’t likely to live much longer,” she said with a wink. “I sure hope your daughter wants to have you around for as long as possible. Now be a good girl and take this medication. Sorry I had to lie about your condition. You’re as healthy as a horse.”