My mum recently had a stroke and, despite my initial resistance, has now moved in to live with us. I have been a carer most of my life – for my dad, my disabled daughter, my grandmother and her brother, so I knew it was not going to be easy, but even I didn’t expect the problems to start quite so early. So this time round, I have decided to keep a blog.
As I have said, I really didn’t want my mum to move in, I am no saint. I told her as much and that the time had come for her to go into residential care. I suggested that she would have some company, be taken out occasionally and have the 24 hour care she needed and that I could not offer. She wasn’t too happy to say the least and vehemently accused me of abandoning her, but I eventually persuaded her that it was the way to go.
Despite recovering really well from the stroke everyone, including mum, agreed that she could no longer live on her own. The nights are the main problem and prior to the stroke she had been sitting on the side of the bed all night, frightened that if she laid down she might not be able to move or that she was going to die. This was made worse by the fact that the ‘carers’ were so unreliable. They would put her to bed far too early, usually at 6.30pm but sometimes as early as 4.00pm! Morning calls were any time between 6.00am and 10.00am and lunch could be as late as 2.30pm or 3,00pm but quite often they didn’t come at all. On one occasion, when mum rang the office to say no one had come to put her to bed, they simply said ‘tough’ and hung up! I remain convinced that these long gaps between meals and the anxiety caused by the carers being so erratic, contributed (along with her diabetes) to her two severe episodes of sepsis and subsequent stroke.
So care home it was, but having no savings of her own meant she would need to go into a Council-discounted care home until she sold her home. Having made this difficult decision, we soon learned that there were no discounted residential care homes in our Borough anyway and the Council could not afford to send her to one outside the Borough. Fees were extortionate ranging from £1000 to £1500 a week so you could understand why the Council wanted the discount. A live in carer was not much less. To make matters worse, we were then told that she actually needed far more care than a residential home could offer, she wasn’t safe to live on her own and yet she did not qualify for a nursing home place! Work that one out! And finally the nursing homes were considered unsuitable anyway as they all had dementia and mum didn’t. So in reality she had nowhere to go, but to us.
In all honesty, we were in a position to have her. We could convert the front room into a bedroom and we already had a walk in shower/wet room, which we originally installed for our daughter who was no longer living at home. So this really was the the right solution, except for the fact that I worked full time and she would be left on her own all day. So the social worker agreed we could have carers four times a day and the hospital were fantastic in agreeing to provide a hospital bed, leaving me to just do the night time care.
So our tale begins….