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.