Friday, 20 February 2009

Home Sweet Home

This post is probably not about what you think it is. Recently dementia has started to figure on the government's agenda and John Suchet, the former ITN newscaster, has raised the its profile, highlighting the problems that he is having coping with his wife's dementia. This current interest has resulted in letters to The Times supporting both the care home and remain in your own home options. One letter from an 80 year old grandparent did not want the life of their daughter and grandchildren blighted by having to look after them in their old age, implying that for them a care home would be the preferred option. Another letter from a Consultant Stroke Physician suggested that rather than investing in a network of dementia care homes, that elderly suffers should be cared for in their own homes by an army of carers. Do you have an elderly relative with dementia? And where do you stand in this debate?

So, you are wondering where does this fit into a blog about relocation and renovation? Well if we had not relocated 200 miles north west of where we used to live, we would not now be 250 miles from my mother, who has vascular dementia. (Do not worry she does not read my blog let alone know that I write one). I strongly believe that she should be able to remain in her bungalow for as long as possible with the help of carers and that is what she wants. Well to remain in her bungalow - I am not sure about the carers. My brother lives just ten minutes drive from my mother but cannot or will not arrange for carers to look after my mother. This has left me with no option but to look for a suitable residential home for her close to where we live as it is not practical for me to look at homes that are 250 miles away.

I started this task, which I have to say is rather daunting, by writing or emailing twelve homes in this area which I found on a care homes web site, requesting a brochure and details of fees etc. Of the twelve, only five responded with a brochure. I had a quick look at the brochures and decided that initially I would look at the nearest residential home to us which happens to be on the outskirts of the village that we live in. It also happens to be the most expensive and based on the glossy brochure provided, it looked to be the best. When I phoned to make an appointment to see the home I was asked if it was for me. I quickly informed them that it was for my mother as I thought ' do I sound old and doddery?' I was advised that I could go any time to see the home as long as I avoided meal times. The home which is set way back from the road and has a large and attractive garden, was clean and tidy and odour free. I was impressed and there was nothing that I could fault apart from the fact that it did not look as glossy as the brochure had led me to expect. The manageress took down some details then informed me that the one problem she had was that they do not take people with dementia. Right, back to the drawing board, I thought.

Back home I had another look through the brochures and tried to work out which homes took patients with dementia. I decided that I would simply have to ask before I arranged to view a home. Fortunately the next home that I approached specialises in patients with dementia but I had to make an appointment rather than turn up when it suited me. They sounded a bit disorganised but I should not pre-judge them. By now it was 12 noon and meal time I supposed, so it would not be convenient to be calling homes. I waited until about 2 pm, by which time I thought that lunch time would be over, then tried phoning another home. The phone rang and rang. I got no answer. So I came to the conclusion that the staff at this home must be having a nap with the patients. Never mind there was another home that I can try. I felt certain that I would not want to put my mother in this home but they say that you should look at as many homes as possible. This home is on a busy main road with a small garden at the rear. It was clean and tidy but somehow it was a bit dowdy. I was shown round by a large and jolly man who looked like Friar Tuck in a nurses uniform. As we climbed the stairs I asked if there was a lift. No, was the reply but there is a chair lift on the other stair case. We looked at bedrooms and bathrooms and chatted until we came to the other stair case. Looking down from the top I thought for a moment that I had been transported to the chair lift at a dry ski slope. It didn't look terribly safe to me.

So next to be viewed was the home specialising in patients with dementia, which had given me the impression of being disorganised. Well this turned out to be the best home so far and I would be happy for my mother to be in this one. It is in a village not far from here, surrounded by fields. It is modern, clean, warm, smell free. In fact everything that I was looking for and the manager was very helpful and understanding. So I think that Mum's name will be going on their waiting list, but I know that I also need to continue to look at some more homes.

27 comments:

Maggie May said...

This is a nightmare, isn't it? I do hope you find the perfect place if that is at all possible.

I also so the John Suchet interview and was very moved by it.
Takes me back to my own mother, who didn't have dementia but another devastating illness that made me feel I had *lost her* several years before she died.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I don't envy you that task CW and do hope you find a suitable home for your mother without too much stress and anxiety.

My maternal grandmother had dementia and an aunt (my mother's sister)also suffered from it. Both were in homes, looked after very well and their carers were wonderful.

I think homes are a better option as they have 24 hour care and are less likely to endanger themselves. Good luck with your search. A x

Scriptor Senex said...

My two elderly parents eventually became too frail at 90 to live on their own - despite plenty of friendly and family support. They came to live with us and faced with the same situation I would do the same again. But it wasn't easy - understatement of the year. And if dementia had been added to the mix I think it would have resulted in a nervous breakdown for me and probably divorce! I hate the the thought of going into a care home but I would dislike even more the potential impact on my children of living with or near them and letting them carry the burden.

Gilly said...

Finding a home for an elderly parent, with or without dementia is a nightmare. Look at as many homes as you can - it all helps you to define what is good and what is bad. And ask if they have any people coming in to entertain the residents - manhy older people can remember the old songs, etc.

And my one fear is that I will get dementia. Sometimes I think I'm on the way as I get terribly forgetful!! :(

Lindsay said...

I wish you luck on your search. My 90 year old dad is in residential care and we have just successfully obtained Attendance Allowance. I only became aware of this benefit after reading an article in the Finance Section of the DT. Both Dad and I were surprised that the care home did not automatically suggest applying for this benefit when he first went there.

French Fancy said...

The best of luck with this one, cheshire wife. Been there, done it -albeit without the dementia aspect. It's not an easy time and I feel for you.

Moannie said...

We had a care home for twelve years and could not take dementia patients. One has to decide on one or the other. If you have the elderly, who simply need care but are lively and have their wits about them, one dementia patient would be too upsetting. If on the other hand you decide on becoming a nursing home then the staff ratio increases and true nursing staff are essential twentyfour hours.
I sympathise with you in your search...just make sure there is adequate and sensitive staffing.Looking after folk with dementia requires saintly qualities of patience and more patience. Do not expect that the glossiest home will be the best one. Talk to relatives if possible.
Good luck!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Absolutely with Moannie on this - speak to rellies if you can, and get recommendations - Ask to see home's care plans, if possible - Gives you an idea of what patient-centred focus is like? I would also suggest getting social care folk involved too, as you may need more support as time wears on, particularly if your brother is too selfish to support you - All the best.

jinksy said...

I feel for you in this situation, and fervently hope you find a satisfactory resolution.

Working mum said...

A difficult time for you and a difficult task. I hope the home near your village has a place soon and she can be nearer to you.

Helen P said...

I'm not sure if this is a helpful suggestion or not CW, but my mother-in-law has been in a residential/nursing home for 10 years (in Cheshire). She is now 73 and so well looked after I'm sure she has many more happy years in her yet. She had had two stokes, one after the other; her daughter lives a long way away and has not been to see her for many years so there was just me and my husband to make the decision about what to do.
I actually found it easier for me to make a lot of the decisions because she wasn't my mother. I found I had the right amount of distance not to get too emotional, because it is such an emotional time. Make it a joint decision with your husband and then you won't feel such a weight of responsibility. I think it helped my husband, who has been visiting his mother now twice a week for 10 years, to live with a difficult decision that had to be made. (We had two small children and stressful jobs when she had her first stroke and knew we couldn't look after her ourselves.)

Limey said...

You're in a particularly difficult situation and I empathize greatly. I saw my mother have to look after her aged, fading parents while her brother played almost no part in helping her because he lived abroad. She drove from Surrey to Southampton at least twice a week and it wore her down. It was so difficult. I really hope you will find a solution that suits you all and eases this difficult situation.

CG said...

What a good daughter you are; I hope you find your mum somewhere nice to live. Both my parents died comparatively young so I've never had to face this situation.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It is terribly daunting for anyone, let alone if you have to accommodate dimentia too. We had to put my late fil in a home, a 24 hour nursing home but luckily there was one 20 miles away. The money is a nightmare and the whole episode can be quite heartbreaking.

I hope everything runs smoothly for you.

CJ xx

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I seem to be reading and seeing many features about Dementia at present...I think it is a very cruel and sad disease.
your post is so moving

Susie Vereker said...

Imo, your mother will be better looked after in a specialist care home than in her own home. I do hope you find a place soon - the nearer to you the better. It doesn't so much matter about the view, it is the kindness of those in charge that counts. And, as you say, lack of smell is crucial. Good luck.

Jan said...

This is a hard time and I empathise completely having "found" care homes for my parents and aunt ( all long gone now) several yrs ago.
But all one can do is take each day/problem as it comes/happens and at the same time, hug both yourself and them as much as possible..

david mcmahon said...

My mother suffered from Alzheimer's. I know what a major issue this is.

david mcmahon said...

Just saw your comment: ``Very perceptive. It reminds me of the bars on an electric fire'' --- YES, you are absolutely right. When I took that shot some weeks ago, I wondered what it reminded me of and you've just provided the answer.

Thank you!

French Fancy said...

Well done on being mentioned on authorblog. Are you any nearer in finding a suitable place yet?

Catharine Withenay said...

I've also been moved by John Suchet's interview and honesty. Carers in our country are not given anywhere near enough support and encouragement. I wish you all the best in finding the right home for your mother.

Akelamalu said...

What a sad thing for you to have to do but I'm pleased you seem to have found accommodation for your mother that you feel happy with and what a blessing it is reasonably near your home. :)

blogthatmama said...

Oh CW it is so difficult isn't it? My friend's mother has the same and she is really struggling to find appropriate care. I wish you all the very best with this. Blogthatmamax

Carol and Chris said...

Awww hon, my heart goes out to you....it's such a tough decision to make. My Grandfather had Dementia and we ended up putting him into a home because my Gran just couldn't cope with him in the house.

I don't know if it helps but the home he was in was brilliant....they took really good care of him.

Good luck

C x

imbeingheldhostage said...

This is such a hard thing to deal with! My grandmother is now being cared for in a facility and a big fight had to happen for her to go-- it was three sisters against one. The thing is, she was a danger to herself (almost burned her house down twice and wandered a lot), it wasn't a matter of shoving her away so that their lives would be better. I'm for caring for family as long as it's possible, but with dementia, they need a special care and 24 hour supervision. This must be so hard to do this all from such a distance!

GoneBackSouth said...

Whew I'm glad that last one sounds promising. You're right though, to keep looking. My husband and his siblings have just been through the same thing with their Dad - it's really not easy. Emotionally, practically and financially it's challenging. I'm sure it will all work out in the end ... I wish you luck and strength in the meantime. x

cheshire wife said...

Thank you very much for all your kind comments and advice.