I sort of left everyone hanging there for a couple weeks... Boy, what suspense!
To summarize the rest of the story: We got blue sweater lady back to the room by learning (rule #1) Don't ask "would you like to take a bath today?" Instead, ask like this, "we're going to take you back to your room to give you a bath now, OK?" Small wording change, big difference. We got her back to bed, gave her a bed bath, and changed her bedding with her in the bed. This now seems ridiculous when it's ten times easier and more effective to give a shower, and change an unoccupied bed, but it's all about learning. The three of us clumsily got everything done with 20 minutes to spare.
My two partners finished setting the room back up while I wheeled her back down to the commons area for her styrofoam cup of ice cream. Having learned rule #1, rather than asking her where she'd like to sit (far too many overwhelming options), I parked her at a table and said "is this ok?" "It's ok," she said, "I don't want to be alone." "Do you want me to stay with you a while?" "OK." So I sat with her, and she told me how some lovely students had given her a sponge bath, and how nice it was. Then she tried giving me her ice cream. That made me feel pretty good.
Since then, I've given another bed bath, and two showers, brushed some teeth, fed a resident lunch, taken a few for walks, and observed in the rehab area. Most of the residents aren't very aware, since it's mostly a dementia/Alzheimer ward, but some of them remember us and enjoy us coming there. I think I'll actually miss it a little when clinicals are over.
The thing that's surprised me most about the experience so far is myself, I guess. I wasn't sure how I would be with the residents, but I actually feel pretty comfortable talking to them, and working with them. They seem to react pretty positively to me too, which is most important I guess. I suppose motherhood has made me more hands-on, patient, and compassionate? Maybe I've found where I really fit.