IL Guest Blog: Life in a Nursing Home

David Chapple

July 17, 2014

I had been living on my own for years when I decided to transition to a nursing home. It all started when I moved to Austin from Cleveland in April of 2012 to be with my then fiancée, Kate. When I left Ohio, I lost my Medicaid benefits and was told that the fastest way to get them in Texas was to go into a nursing home. So, on January 3rd, 2013, I admitted myself. Thankfully, I was only in there for a relatively short time because it was an experience that I surely do not want to repeat.


Although some of the aides were great, many did not understand or take the time to get to know my needs. For example, most aides insisted on putting adult diapers on me, even though I can wear regular underwear, and I do have the ability to say when I need to go to the bathroom. Once, I remember arguing with an aide for fifteen minutes about it. A nurse was called in because I wouldn't come out of the bathroom. When the aide explained that I wouldn't cooperate, the nurse said, "David doesn't wear those. Why are you trying to put one on him?" The aide looked slightly confused and said, "But everybody wears diapers.” The nurse got another aide who had worked with me before, and he finally put me in my own underwear.

Another problem came up during meal times. Sometimes, I have trouble controlling my mouth, and if an aide or nurse is unfamiliar with this, they might think I am playing around with them. It is crucial to be patient and wait for me to open my mouth, because rushing me only makes me nervous and spastic. One day during lunch, the staff was shorthanded, and the first available aide to help me had never fed me before. When I didn't open my mouth immediately for her, she started pushing spoonfuls of food in my face and made a mess. I got pissed and started kicking my feet; I couldn’t use my communication device with food stuffed in my face! Finally, she threw the spoon down and left. I was eventually able to eat at my own pace after Kate and her attendant arrived. The aide was reprimanded, but I was thankful that I did not have to work with her again.

Leaving the nursing home became another source of frustration. At first, I was told it would take thirty days to get in and out. I thought, "Okay, a month isn't so bad." The day before being admitted, though, I was informed that my Medicaid application wouldn't even be considered until I was there for thirty days. Then, it could take another thirty to sixty days to be approved for Medicaid and begin receiving services in my own home! All I could think was “What the hell!” The only bright spot was that after the first thirty days, I was allowed to spend some weekends at home with Kate.


A group of 5 formally dressed people stand/ sit in the middle of a wooded area. Finally, on April 19th, 2013, I left for good. I was in the nursing home for exactly 107 days. I did eventually receive full Medicaid benefits, and shortly after, Kate and I had our commitment ceremony and became partners for life (see right).

I have been living in the Austin community with my wife for a year and a half now. I love being able to set my own schedule, spend time with my wife and my friends, and be involved in my community like I am today. I still keep in contact with two guys that I befriended in the nursing home, and unfortunately, they still live there. This is wrong. All people, whether they have disabilities or not, should have the right to live in the community and receive the care they need in their own homes.


About David:

A man in a power chair equipped with a screen grins at the camera. David Chappel graduated from Cleveland State University, in 1994, with a Bachelor's Degree of Computer Science. Currently, he lives in Austin, Texas where he serves as Treasurer for Texas TERA (Technology Education Resource and Advocacy). David also participates in several programs at VSA Arts Texas, where he writes personal stories and paints.

Check out David's first guest blog post for CTD, on his first apartment.

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