The Chapel: The Chapel was nothing more than a small area designated for the daily afternoon, and Sunday evening, churchy-type services. A long-time resident would play the piano, they'd sing a few churchy songs, then it was time enough to get back to their areas before supper. The nursing home itself is ran largely by church-donations (as well as the fees it costs to live there by paying residents, and medicare). Occaisionally they would have different types of special events out in the chapel area, like a certain local 'band' that played junk for instruments (wash-board, jugs, spoons) would come to entertain the residents. Out front, which you could see from the Chapel windows, was a garden with a fountain in a small pond, flowers, regularly trimmed hedges, and all sorts of bird houses. The cafeteria is right in back of the chapel area, separated by a wall, and either side of this wall are large open doorways. At the opposite end of the cafeteria are the halls that go to skilled on the one side of the building, or intermediate if you go the other way. From these back-halls that lead to either unit, and the kitchen, you can see directly into the chapel area if you stand in the doorways that go into the cafeteria. The doorways are all quite large, at least 10 to 15 feet, roughly, or more across.
One night when I was leaving the skilled unit to clock out at the end of my shift, which means I had to pass by the cafeteria, where the chapel windows are clearly visible that look out to the garden. I saw, from the corner of my eye, a man, or a manly figure, standing with his back to me in a long dark trenchcoat like a business man would wear. He seemed to be looking out the chapel windows into the garden. I looked his way, and nobody was there. That was the first NHX ghost I saw. Later, when I told a co-worker, she told me that I just saw the ghost that a resident always talks about in her room! She said the resident described him the same way, in a trench-coat! That weirded me out a little, but I didn't really want to judge it. I thought maybe I was just seeing things. It was pretty dark in the chapel. They turn the lights out except for a few 'night-light' type lights, and of course the outside lights are on at night. Perhaps it had been a shadow of some kind that I thought I had seen, I had thought to myself.
After this had happend, I began to talk to other co-workers about stuff they saw around the NHX. A couple girls who worked together on third shift said they chase the ghosts when they see them, others had a few interesting tales. One girl told me that she and another co-worker (who verified that it happend) were in a room putting the last of their two residents to bed. They heard the faucet in the bathroom came on and run for a few seconds. The first CNA was leaving the room, happend to look into the bathroom and nobody was in there, further inspection showed the water was circling the drain! Personally, when I worked third shift, I noticed on the Skilled Unit (where all the residents required more care, and could not get up at all by themselves without a lift-machine, or the assistance of 2 girls) bathroom lights would come on by themselves (they were all motion-sensor bathroom lights, for added patient safety), or occaisionally hear a toilet flush by itself. Most nurses would not acknowledge the existance of ghosts, and thought of us as 'silly' for thinking this way, there were a few nurses who thought otherwise though.
The Skilled Unit: After a resident had passed away a few days before, I was checking on her room-mate (a woman who never talked because of whatever form of alzheimers or adult dementia she had) whose eyes were following something across the room. Her eyes followed it straight to the wall, and in the next room was one of the 'screamers' (or affectionately: "Old Yellers") you find occaisionally at nursing homes, the kind that just yell all the time. A second after her eyes met the wall, from the next room the screamer (who also had some kind of alzheimer's) yelled "GET OUTTA HERE! GET OUTTA HERE!" I ran out to check on her, thinking it was just going to be a co-worker checking to make sure her bed was dry and to see if she needed help changing her, there was nobody in there to my surprise. I said to the resident "XXXXXX are you ok, hon?" She just kind of mumbled, and I quickly walked away from the room, feeling slightly freaked out.
Other times I would walk by resident rooms, or other rooms like the soiled-hold, and just see a figure standing there out of the corner of my eye, I'd look and nobody would be standing there.
Intermediate: This unit had most of the residents requiring little-to-moderate care, but couldn't quite live 100% on their own. One evening on 2nd shift while I was gathering supplies to get my residents to bed (soap, towels, washcloths), out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman in a long white gown at the end of the hall in her doorway. This was not unusual, as her normal routine to get your attention was not her call-light, but flagging you down if she saw you in the hall ways. I turned to ask her what she needed, but she wasn't there. I went down to the room, in case she popped back inside before I saw her do it, but she was in her bed sleeping, and her room-mate was also sleeping. I thought nothing of it, and returned to my cart to finish organizing what I needed, again there was the figure standing in the door way. I turned to look, and it was gone again. I shook my head, because I knew it was either my eyes, or the ghosties again. I went back to my work, getting a couple residents washed up and ready for bed. I walked a resident to her bathroom, and went back to the cart to get more washcloths, and again there was the woman in a white gown in the doorway down the hall. After I got my last resident to bed, I told a co-worker I thought I was seriously going nuts because I kept seeing this woman in the doorway at the end of the hall. I didn't really notice any outstanding features, other than it was more-than-likely female, and the figure wasn't very tall. It turns out that the woman who lived in that room before had died in the chapel area shortly after the daily afternoon services had started, just after I started working there. One thing I did not know was that this resident had brought her own gowns from home, and they were all long and white!
Other Residents: Employees were not the only ones with ghost experiences. A few residents often complained of a little boy jumping on their beds. They were the ones with adult dementia, but after you hear more than one resident, confused or not, complaining of something too similar, you just have to wonder. Two residents who complained the most about the little boy were on skilled, and the other was one on intermediate. Off and on, others would say the same thing, but for the most part it was basically the same three. The one on intermediate once said he was 'hanging from a hook on her wall', I hoped she meant hanging like on a monkey-bar, not hanging because he was impaled on a hook. That really freaked me out, and I mostly avoided her room the rest of the night.
It's hard to tell when residents see things, especially the confused ones with dementia. One resident saw 'cucumbers' laying all over the floor she needed to pick up (she must've been a farmer's wife). Others have seen relatives who have passed away. One resident talked to her father sometimes as though he was in the room with her. So it's hard to discern when they are truly seeing something, or if they are just thinking they see something. That's why I don't want to share each and every story of residents seeing strange things, just the ones that seem like they have more than just a coincidence involved, like the 'little boy ghost' that jumps on the beds. There was no way these residents could have conspired against us CNA's and nurses, because they didn't share rooms, they didn't sit at the same dinner table, or in the chapel together. They weren't the sort that would have sought each other out to talk about it. I do think that perhaps it was more than just a coincidence.
The Final "Goodbye": After a long battle with cancer, a resident who called nursing home X her home for years, was finally ready to go "home". The other CNA's and I got all of our people to bed and we had been talking about this particular resident all night, how we were glad she didn't have to suffer any longer, and how we wish we had that night off to go to the visitation. The call light in the room she left behind went on. Nobody had been admitted to her old spot just yet, and we went to see what her room-mate wanted. Well, her old room-mate was asleep, and the call light that was on in the room (you can tell which light is on by which plate it is plugged into the wall, the plates are separate) was the one that belonged to the resident who had just passed! The room-mate was not responsible for it going on, the curtain between the beds was drawn, the light was nowhere in her reach, the room-mate could not even get up by herself, she required at least one person to help her transfer from chair-to-bed, and couldn't walk more than a step or two) everything was pretty much untouched. We looked at each other in amazement. It was just her way of saying "Goodbye, thanks for the good care you gave me!".