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7 Reviews

Providing home care and nursing care for the elderly in the UK.

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      18.05.2011 14:16
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      Choosing the right care home can be a difficult decision

      Whilst spending the week in a very wet Lancashire and doing the dutiful daughter bit, I thought I'd write a review detailing my experiences of choosing a care home which hopefully will prove useful to anyone faced with having to place a loved one into care.

      We're told the population is living longer and many of us can expect to live to be over 100. Personally, I think many of my own generation of baby boomers probably won't make a century - too much sex 'n' drugs and rock 'n' roll in our youth - but our parents' generation who lived through the Second World War are practically indestructible. They lived on very meagre rations but it's often been said that the nation was never as healthy and they are reaping the benefits of a longer old age than any generation before them.

      The sad fact is though that although their vital organs may be strong, their bodies are wearing out and either through something like Alzheimer's or simple frailty, they can no longer look after themselves and their children are presented with the problem of their care. Simply putting them into a care home is the obvious solution but it isn't as simple a process as many would think. There are a lot of very mediocre and downright poor quality care homes out there and, depending on where in the country you live, a limited supply of quality care for the elderly. Also, if your relative has property or savings of more than £23,000, it all comes at a hefty price.

      My experience:

      My mother was 89 at the time she had her stroke and was in hospital for six months, most of which time either my brother or myself were there visiting every day and although her progress was very slow, with therapy she could manage to walk a few very doddery steps with the aid of a quad stick and support from one person, at which time the hospital said they'd done all they could but in their opinion her heart was failing and she wasn't likely to last more than a month or so. The hospital then told us that as her treatment had ended, they would be discharging her into our care.

      For many reasons, both physical and financial, Mum didn't qualify for NHS care funding so I took a sabbatical from my job to look after her in those final weeks or months. However, from the minute she set foot back in her own home, she began to get better. Although delighted at her physical recovery, it presented me with a huge problem. I was living 250 miles away from my own home and the way Mum was improving, it looked as though she was going to go on for years rather than the weeks we'd expected! In the first few months following her discharge, I'd already discovered that looking after Mum myself was just too much for me. She needed a lot of personal care which entailed being woken up several times a night to take her to the loo, washing and dressing her, pushing her around in a wheelchair and the like and despite having half her brain blown away by the stroke, she could still spot the smallest speck of dust at 100 paces and point it out! It was beginning to take a toll on me. Returning to my home town with the prospect of it only lasting a few weeks was one thing, but my life and my job were 250 miles south.

      My brother and I knew it would be difficult to persuade Mum to leave her home but although she's very comfortably off financially, having live in help comes at such a prohibitive price that it simply wasn't an option so, having explained the situation to Mum, she reluctantly agreed that it was the only solution and we set about finding her a care home. This didn't prove to be as easy as we'd anticipated.

      Obviously, not everyone's experiences will be the same as ours. Mum lives in the Ribble Valley, a very rural area so care homes, especially good ones, are not to be found on every street corner and she'd already managed to make it known that she wanted to stay up north. The search for a good care home took quite some time but here are my tips for finding the perfect place.

      ~ Finding the right care home ~

      1. If at all possible, include the elderly person in the process right from the start. Obviously, if there is mental incapacity this won't be possible but remember you're looking for somewhere on behalf of someone very dear to you and their wishes must be taken into consideration. The early stages of the process will involve getting brochures from the various homes, recommendations from others and internet searches also prove very useful. A care worker from the local authority should be assigned to the case and they will be able to provide lots of valuable help and assistance.

      2. Once you've come up with a shortlist of suitable homes, check out the inspection reports on all of them. These can be found via the Care Quality Commission website www.cqc.org.uk or via your local authority website. These reports will highlight any problem areas that have been found and although seeing is believing, they can certainly help towards informing your final decision.

      3. When it comes to visiting the care homes you've chosen be very wary of those who only offer visits by appointment. This may mean they have something they'd prefer you didn't see. A good home will be happy to let you call in whenever you want and see them 'warts and all'.

      4. Don't expect any care home to be a real home from home. This is communal living and many of the residents are well on the way to being instututionalised. What may look to you like a room full of old people sitting there waiting to die, but it doesn't mean they aren't perfectly happy. The very elderly, I've discovered, spend a lot of time napping in front of the TV.

      5. Check whether the home allows residents to take pieces of their own furniture with them. This can often help the transition from home to residential care if they have familiar furniture, ornaments and photographs around them.

      6. Cost and availability. Maybe I should have put this one first because you'll discover that on top of the weekly or monthly fees (we're currently paying just over £1,700 a month) there are frequently hidden costs such as hairdressers, newspapers, additional toiletries, and the like. As for availability, most care homes are filled to capacity and it's a case of waiting for dead men's shoes. The waiting lists can be quite long, too.

      We were very fortunate in that, after visiting quite a few very expensive turkeys, we hit upon a real gem. The home had a lovely feel to it, was reasonably small and the room we were shown was likely to be available in a matter of days as the present incumbent was currently breathing her last in hospital. Mum was happy (well, reasonably so) as there were people already in the home that she knew, including one of the staff , all of whom were delightful. The manager made no attempt to hide the fact that the home wasn't the number one in the area but was the one that tried the hardest to make everyone feel comfortable. This included, at no extra cost, trips out every month throughout the summer around the countryside and no regimentation. Many homes insist on the residents eating meals and going to bed at set times. This home was run more like a hotel for the elderly. We had in fact visited the number one residential home and discounted it as having a very cold and sterile environment and the room we were shown was half the size of the one in the home we eventually chose.

      ~ Moving into the home ~

      Once you've made your decision, there are still a few hurdles to cross, mostly emotional ones.

      If you're placing a parent into residential care, your overriding emotion will be one of guilt. My advice here is don't let your guilt stop you doing what will be in everyone's best interests. You're not alone in feeling this way and people won't criticise you for doing this. Your mother or father have had the best years of their lives and you're still living yours.

      The final wrench of leaving the home they've probably lived in for years, with all its attendant memories, is going to be traumatic and there will likely be tears - even grown men have been known to cry at times like this - and once they get to their new care home, it's very likely they'll hate it at first. The home we chose suggested not visiting for a fortnight to allow Mum time to get used to it. It was tough, especially as Mum cried when I left her (I'd only ever seen her cry once before and that was when my Dad died) and when, after a two week gap, I went to visit she again burst into tears as soon as she saw me. As she can't speak, it seemed as though she was begging me to take her back home again. Two months later, however, her friends had begun to visit her and she was happily settled and I felt I could leave her in safe hands. For the second time in my life, I shook the dust of Clitheroe off my feet and headed south and the sense of relief was enormous.

      One thing I would advise anyone to do when putting a relative into a care home is take along a few bits of information about them. As my Mum can't communicate very well, I wanted the staff to be aware that she hadn't always been the frail old lady they saw but had been a vital and intelligent person, so I wrote a little biography of her life and included some of her food likes and dislikes, too.

      My Mum had been a career woman until she married my Dad. She trained in technical drawing and was working in the engineering drawing offices at Rover in Coventry at the beginning of the War and when the Government approached Rover to support Frank Whittle in developing the jet engine, she was selected to be part of that rather exclusive team. When Coventry was blitzed she and the rest of the team were moved to Clitheroe in Lancashire to continue the work and Mum was billeted at my grandfather's house which is how she met my Dad. They married a couple of years after the War and she's remained in Clitheroe ever since. She was inordinately proud, and rightly so, of being part of the jet engine team, albeit a very small part, and of being involved with an invention that helped move the world forward.

      Of course, this isn't the end of the story. Mum isn't capable of managing her finances anymore as she only understands very basic sentences and she gets this glazed look in her eyes if you try to discuss money, so we've now got Power of Attorney which takes quite a while to get and because it involves solicitors, isn't cheap. (Don't get me started on what I think of the legal profession!) Making sure their money works for them isn't easy either, especially at these times of 0.5% interest and juggling their finances is yet another headache.

      Nobody is saying that a residential care home is an ideal solution but increasingly it's becoming the only solution. My brother and I aren't alone in living miles away from our parents and visiting isn't easy when you're at one end of the country and your parent is at the other. I'm told by the manager that many people shove their parents into homes and then more or less forget about them, only visiting once in a blue moon. My Mum is more fortunate as she has lots of friends who visit her regularly and although the long drive up the M6 every other month can be a real drag, I feel it's a small price for my brother and I to pay for the lifetime of love and devotion my Mum has shown us.

      It was difficult deciding a star rating for this review. I've given it 5 stars and they are for the care home where my mother now lives happily and comfortably. I hope this has demonstrated that going into a care home needn't be the end but the beginning of a new chapter in an elderly person's life. Although it's a very difficult decision to make and there will be a few stumbling blocks along the way, if you've chosen the right home, there can be a happy outcome for everyone.

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        18.03.2009 16:38
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        Is it fair to tell a person what they can spend their money on?

        I have decided to write this review to warn people of the financial rules made by the local authority, if and when the time ever comes for one of their parents to go into a residential or nursing home then they need to be fully aware of Nominal Capital and how it can cause problems if ever a claim was needed to get help with fees.

        Both my Mother and Father in Law are in a residential care home, they are very well looked after and have no worries which is a blessing, but my husband and I have had worries beyond belief over the last year due to the Local Authorities rules and regulations.

        Mum and dad owned their own house and it was their pride and joy, Dad looked after the garden and also grew vegetables on his allotment while Mum kept the house immaculate and walked her beloved dog Kim at six every morning and again at night.

        My husband moved away from his home town for his work quite a few years ago but we used to visit about three times a year and they would come and see us on the train for a week's holiday. They were a very active loving couple and sticklers for paying their way in life.

        At the beginning of 1995 we started to become concerned because we were beginning to notice that their house was getting a bit dirty and Mum was starting to act a bit strange but we just could not put our finger on the problem.

        After a few weeks we tried to talk to Dad and suggested that maybe Mum should get a check up because we thought that she was looking a bit 'peeky,' this did not go down very well with either of them so we tactfully backed off.

        We started to visit more regularly and it was becoming very apparent that Mum was getting very confused and the house was getting into a worse state. It was as if Dad was trying to protect her and didn't want any interference. He would not take her to a doctor so we went to see their doctor behind their back.

        I remember that day so clearly we both felt absolutely terrible but after talking to the doctor and telling him about the situation he immediately told us that Mum was showing classic symptoms of dementia and that it was quite normal for a partner to try and cover up the situation.

        The doctor visited Mum and Dad to assess the situation and immediately arranged for Mum to be put into a home temporarily to be assessed and to give dad some respite.

        This was a very sad time for Dad he was absolutely devastated and travelled the nine miles every day taking two buses there and back to sit with Mum in the home.
        He insisted that he could cope with her and wanted her home even though he was 84 years old at the time.

        Social Services became involved and agreed that Mum could go home on the condition that they got home help and meals on wheels.
        Dad was over the moon and agreed to everything, we promised to visit the following weekend and of course he should ring us if he had any problems what so ever.

        After one day we received a call from the hospital Dad had collapsed and Mum was put in yet another council care home. We felt terrible and also extremely sad for both of them more so dad because he was distressed and shattered and I saw a frightened old man that just couldn't cope anymore.

        We had a meeting with the Social Services at the home where Mum had been placed and it was agreed that she had gone down hill quite dramatically. The home itself was very large and she was miles from home which made it difficult for Dad to visit. We were told that we could find her a home ourselves and that she would get help from the local Authority with her fees and we did find a great place five minutes walk from their house.

        A solicitor applied to the Court of Protection to assist in looking after her finances because she was no longer capable of making financial decisions for herself and my husband was appointed Her Deputy for the Court of Protection. This meant that he was responsible for collecting her pension and controlling her assets from a bank account that was set up for him.

        Once a year he has to fill out a report explaining exactly what has been spent and how much is in the account. The main bill every month is the home fees and this has been running very smoothly for four years up to now.

        Mum needs very little she is quite happy to just sit in a chair and eat her meals. We buy her clothes when needed and make sure that she has nice bubble bath etc and she gets her hair done once a fortnight. she does not go out at all and doesnt even know who we are.

        Dad eventually started to go down hill he couldn't cope without her and the house was just too much for him, he asked if he could go into the same home as Mum and was really keen on the idea.

        We managed to get him a room there and he was able to go out shopping and have his freedom.
        At no stage did social services get involved with this move it was his decision and he was quite happy to be nearer Mum. He accepted that the house would have to be sold to pay his fees and we had a solicitor deal with all of this for him.

        He asked the solicitor to make my husband and myself power of attorney and an Enduring power of attorney was set up so that he could have a say in his finances as well.
        After the house was sold the money was split between Mum and Dad, Mums money went straight to the Court of protection and Dad got a cheque for his half which he put into the Power of Attorney account.


        He had a little spend up after that, he bought a brand new bed for himself a television for his room and I took him shopping for some new clothes. He deserved it after losing his home and his wife to dementia.
        He started to enjoy his shopping trips and quite often went out during the day on his own to meet up with his old friends from the allotment, it was nice to see him settling down and starting to laugh again.

        His fees were 1.600 pounds a month and of course after the house sale he had to pay the full amount, Mum was helped by the local authority but once the sale went through they sent a bill for over 20.000 pounds to retrieve their money.

        When an elderly person in this country goes into care they have to pay all their own fees if their assets are over 22,250 pounds and Mum and dad had money from the house so this had to be used to pay for their care.

        I am not going to get into a debate on the rights and wrongs of this, that is how it is and has to be accepted I am afraid, but what happened when dads money went down to just under 22.500 pounds was quite distressing.

        We applied to the local authority for help with his fees and were asked to send bank statements etc so that they could assess the claim after a month or two they sent back copies of the statements highlighting transactions and wanting explanations as to how the money was spent.

        We answered all their queries 65.00 for a winter coat etc. Monies taken out in cash by Dad over the years it was a good job that we kept everything in order so that we could give an accurate breakdown.

        After a year of waiting for help and 19.000 pounds being paid out in fees since the original claim Dad was left with very little and just his pension every week.

        The local Authority wrote to us saying that they would not be helping with his fees for some time to come because they assessed that he had a nominal capital over the 22.500 pounds.

        This means that he spent money that he was not allowed to spend. Apparently when a person goes into a home they are not allowed to spend more than 25.00 a week, it doesn't matter that it is their money the local authority state that that is the amount they need for clothes and treats etc.

        We were totally shocked by this, how can it be right? a man sells his home to pay for care then gets told he is not allowed to spend it. People get more than that for unemployment benefit. What if he ran a car or enjoyed a pint occasionally 25 pounds does not go a long way at all.

        Out of this he is expected to pay for hair cuts, chiropody treatments, as well as buying his clothes and toiletries. How can he afford to buy treats like a bag of toffees or a bottle of pop? A newspaper every day would make a large dent in his allowance; I am sure inmates in our prisons get fairer treatment.

        We were left with the problem of finding his fees ourselves or fighting it tooth and nail. It is criminal to treat an elderly person in this way so of course we did fight.

        Eventually they agreed to help with his fees because at no time did they ever give us or dad in writing the rules about only being allowed to spend 25.00 a week.

        I feel totally drained after months of arguing with the authorities and I doubt if we will ever get an apology but Dad is still happily plodding along at the grand age of 88 years old totally unaware of how the system has treated him.

        If you ever find yourself in the situation of finding a care home for a parent or relative be very careful and get as much information as you can about the rules and regulations on nominal capital.

        I must add that in no way am I knocking the care home itself for my Dads treatment they do a marvellous job and have given us so much support in fighting this, I cannot praise them enough.

        I do apologise for the length of this review but if it helps just one person to avoid this situation it will have been worth while.

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          22.02.2009 12:23
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          Care homes are much more than just a home

          Signing the piece of paper to say you agree to your mother living in a local care home must be the hardest, gut-wrenching thing you will ever have to do. But my mum did just that and I'm so proud of her for it.

          She has always lived with her mother, even after her marriage in 1965. I couldn't have done that. When I got married I wanted my new found and frisky freedom to be honest. My dad probably deserves a gold medal too. But there were advantages to this. My brother and I were raised in a 3 generation household and I now know from teaching for 22 years that the stability of an extended family is absolutely priceless. We were offered unconditional love and support from four adults.

          My nan is going to be 98 in March and she's lived through two world wars and the death of her amazing husband in 1976 and her wonderful son when he was only 57 in 1992. I can't imagine losing one of my three children. It's not a parent's job to bury their child, however old they are.

          Yet, she is still as smiley as ever. She always thanks us for going to see her and she is amazingly resilient. I am convinced she's made of ball bearings so she just keeps rolling along so to speak.

          She had been in a wheelchair due to mobility difficulties since about 1993, but my mum would take her out most days (with all the lifting and hard work that entails) and we'd take her on holiday as an extended family for a couple of weeks every year.

          My mum must have saved the state hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs for her care but she did it lovingly, enjoying her mother's company mostly, but there were periods of intense frustration and a feeling of constantly being 'on duty' as a carer. Things were becoming unbearable for mum in 2003 so I offered to house sit while they took a welcomed week's holiday in Spain.

          It was only then that I realised what an unbelievable job she was doing. Emptying a commode every morning was not my idea of a thrilling half term I can tell you, or trying to bathe someone who's frail and could break a bone with one simple trip. She was mostly in bed for the week I spent with her as she had a chest infection at the time and every night I thought she might die, I kept going in her room to see if she was OK. My parents returned refreshed, I went back to work totally worn out.

          I granny sat once more in 2004 but nan's health worsened and my parents wouldn't leave her after that. It was in September 2005 that the crunch came, literally. My nan got out of bed to find her purse, fell and broke the top of her left femur. We thought she wasn't going to survive the operation to insert two pins, but she did, amazingly.

          She had three weeks on a ward in the local hospital, followed by ten weeks in the geriatric specialist care hospital. All the time she remained cheery and bright with only the odd day where she seemed to be down.The care that she received in both places was outstanding and at last my mum became a different person. She was less anxious, she could actually leave the house for more than an hour at a time and she had a younger look about her.

          When the time came to assess what would be happening to nan after she was 'rehabilitated' there was no doubt in my mum's mind that she could no longer care for her at home. Neither did she want a care team coming into her home. She made the correct choice and when a place was made available at a local nursing home, my mum consented whole-heartedly. The decision would have been far more difficult had nan still been at home, I'm convinced.

          There are times when we visit the home and we want to cry when we leave, looking at some of the people there who are trapped in their own little world as a result of a stroke, or those that have the clear signs of Alzheimers. But, in the main, our experiences are positive. My three girls are string players and go to 'entertain the troops' or they take friends from church to sing a few times a year and John, who sits next to my nan, accompanies them on his harmonica, bless him.

          We recently had another scare when the home couldn't contact us as my mum now visits her caravan in Spain when she can and I was in the Lake district in an area of no phone reception whatsoever. When I got to checking through my mum's mail, a letter was there from the care home, saying nan was ill, a GP had been called. I never finished the letter. I was there three minutes later and , right enough, she appeared very ill. But the next day, no less, she was sat up in the lounge, bright as a button again. Words don't often fail me, but I was gobsmacked. My kids couldn't believe it either.

          We look forward to the day when my nan receives her telegram from the Queen as I'm sure she will. She is a fighter and it's down to the loyalty, dedication and general angel like qualities of the staff at the home.

          Without their constant care, engaging activities and fun-loving personalities the home would not be the place that it is. Every day we visit, and we visit most days in holidays, there's something happening for the residents. The hairdresser's salon, which is part of the home, is the hub of the community and the lounge is comfortable and mostly filled with laughter. It's a place I'm glad my nan has been lucky enough to find.

          My mum still has some issues she'd like sorting out such as clothing and personal effects disappearing from time to time, but these hardly compare to having to empty a commode, bathe an increasingly frail mother and generally anguish over every decision that you have to make.

          Care homes are often misunderstood places and the people in them aren't always given the recognition they deserve or the financial rewards they need. It's about time the Government legislated on home carers too, recognising the huge amount of money they save the state.

          My nan seems happy where she is, she now has more friends of nearly her own age at least and the staff love her smiling face. My mum is a much more fulfilled person now she has been able to develop her own interests and spend time with my dad now he's retired.

          Here's to all carers. There is nothing more honorable that caring for someone just because you want to, but when things get tough it's important to find someone to turn to and let someone care for you too.

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            08.11.2008 13:20
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            Very great centres.....meant for humanity

            When I read review about care centers, I remembered one of care Homes in our City which is meant for blind people.
            I first went there went i heard from my friend's father that they are gifting a cricket bat. Since then I visit there atleast once in an year.

            That is basically meant for children and provides schooling too..the technique they use to teach the blind students is known as the brail lipi in which students learn with moving their fingers on the crafted letters on the page...it is really a touching feeling to hear them reading like that.
            Both the students and the teachers work really hard almost ten time normal ones can.
            The care such institutions provide to all the blind children is really very appreciable. All the basic things like good food including two times breakfast, lunch, dinner is given, nice clothes to wear, good rooms, sport faclities, even radio and tape recorders for entertainment and most importantly the school.

            When we go and see such people and students, it feels like anything can be done if we really have good spirits for any work with good aims., and when people like those have so much strength, why cant we do such good works which are meant for humanity when God has given all that we need..,.....we always should pray for all those and really help them by any sources like prayings, charities, education, entertainment etc..

            Thanks for going through....

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              04.11.2008 19:41
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              Hopefully the right decision has been made......

              I have worked in 'Care' for more years than I would like to remember. There are lots of different types of Care Homes.

              There are Care Homes for young people with Physical Disabilities, for young people with Mental Health Issues, for people who suffer from Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, Eating Disorders and this names only a few.

              There are also Care Homes providing, either Residential Care or Nursing Care for the elderly and infirm.

              In this review, I would like to talk about Nursing Homes for the elderly.

              Today I went to visit my Mother-in-Law at a Nursing Home, which will be her home from now on.

              She is a wonderful lady, and I love and respect her very much. She is suffering from Vascular Dementia, Diabetes and Asthma. Having been in hospital for the last five months, the family had to make the very difficult decision, regarding her future care.

              The Doctors had told the family that this lovely lady was a danger to herself. All she wanted to do was to walk around, but one part of her brain told her she could walk but the other part of her brain forgot to tell her legs to move. This resulted in many falls. The Doctors suggested a Nursing Home and advised that this was best for my mother-in-law.

              The family got together and the deision was made. Not an easy decision and there were lots of sadness and tears.

              The family visited lots of homes, before making their decision and I think they have chosen one of the best.

              She now has her own room and bathroom. The room is beautifully decorated in lovely pale colours, with everything matching. Everything is spotlessly clean and I would have struggled to find even a speck of dust. I have been told by other family members that the food looks very appetising.

              In the past I have always been the person who tried to re-assure family members that their loved ones were being very well looked after. Today was a completely different story. My hubby and I were the one's being re-assured.

              When we went to her room, she looked so pleased to see us. She was sitting in her chair with everything she needed close by. We chatted for a while, some sensible conversation and some not so sensible.

              She appeared to be settling in very well. The staff offered us tea and coffee, which was nice, as we could sit and have a cup of tea without waiting for the end of visiting.

              One member of staff in particular was very kind to us, and she told us that we could visit at any time, as this was now mum's home.

              I am happy with the idea that we can visit at any time. To me this means that they have nothing to hide.

              Hubby put her family pictures up on her wall and this went down very well. Her new television is being delivered this afternoon.

              Overall things look fine, but because I have worked in Nursing Homes, I will be keeping a very close eye on the day to day goings on.

              All Care Homes have to be kept up to Care Commission Standards and in the main this is true. My concern is the few who slip through the net.

              I don't expect there to be any problems with this Nursing Home, but previous experience tells me to be vigilant.

              It was a very difficult visit for hubby and I to make today, but I am pleased with what I have seen so far. I am also delighted that 'mum' has settled in so quickly.

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                04.10.2008 23:23
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                They were so kind to us all.

                I have just read a review about care homes and how to choose one and I thought I would share my (our) experiences with you. This is another difficult review for me to as my mother only died in April of this year.

                To start from the beginning we moved here to Llandudno in the summer of 2002 so that mom and dad could live with Dave (hubby) and me as dad had Alzheimer's disease and mom was struggling to look after him on her own. I became his full time carer until he died in the summer of 2005.

                Sadly as dad deteriorated mom developed Vascular Dementia and so, after dad's death, I became full time carer to mom.

                The nature of mom's illness meant that her short term memory had all but disappeared although she could hold a reasonable conversation - it was just that she would have forgotten all about it within five minutes.

                This got worse over time and sometimes I would tell her the same thing over and over and over again within the space of half an hour!

                She also kept asking where dad had gone and then she began to imagine that she had seen him with another woman and she would get very upset about it! Incidentally dad was one of those men that you could guarantee would NEVER have gone with anyone else!

                I wasn't any help to mom when she was like this as I used to try and reason with her to alleviate her distress and this used to make matters worse and we would end up arguing. We always made friends very quickly but she needed someone who could be objective and distract her from her pain.

                She used to go to the local memory clinic for a day each week and then for one week in every five as a residential patient. This was fine for a couple of years but, as her physical health also began to deteriorate, the strain begin to take its toll on my health and the doctor at the clinic suggested that it would be better for mom to go into a nursing home and he suggested a local one.

                Mom needed to be in a nursing home rather than a residential home because a nurse would need to be available at all times in case she needed medical help.

                As a full time carer I had my own social worker assigned to me and I contacted her about the situation. She immediately offered to take me to visit one or two homes so that I could see for myself what they were like.

                I will say here and now that I do not intend to mention any names here as that would not be appropriate.

                My social worker took me to the home recommended to me and it was awful. It smelled really odd and was dark and claustrophobic. She then took me to visit another one which was lovely and airy, it smelled fresh and clean, the staff seemed really nice and the residents that we saw seemed happy enough.

                My social worker was not legally allowed to offer me any advice but I could see that she was trying to show me that the second home was the one to go for.

                What I wanted to do was to get mom in as a day care patient for one day a week to get her used to the place. I had no intention of just dumping her somewhere strange and letting her get on with it. I loved her far too much for that.

                Anyway a nurse came from the home to chat to mom and see how she was and whether she would be suitable for the home and vice versa. She was lovely and mom took to her straight away.

                Mom started going to the home every Friday in November 2007 and she was put on the waiting list for a room.

                She enjoyed her day out each week and quickly made friends with another lady who was at the same sort of level as mom if you see what I mean.

                On New Year's Eve 2007 I received a phone call saying that a room had become available that would suit mom. As it happened she was away on respite at the memory clinic so Dave and I went to the home to view the room and see if it was suitable and whether there was anything we needed to get. It seemed OK so we accepted it providing mom liked it.

                We took her to see it the following week and she was happy enough so the wheels were put in motion. I was a nervous wreck during this period as I wanted everything to be perfect but, as my sister pointed out, things weren't perfect at home were they so why should I insist on perfection in the home?

                Mom finally moved in on 25th January 2008 and settled very well. She did ask us at first when she was coming home but she soon got over that.

                The financing was sorted out for us and we were advised of how much we needed to pay each week.

                Mom enjoyed being with her new friend and was always happy to see us each week when we went to fetch her for a day out. The members of staff were always kind and thoughtful to the visitors as well as the residents. Mom always told us that they couldn't do enough for them and were always kindness itself.

                After about eight weeks we had a meeting with the people from the home and mom's social worker about how she had settled and then mom was invited in to say what she thought of the home. I was terrified that she would be difficult and demand to come home but she said how well she was treated, how nice her room was and how good the food was so she was officially admitted as a resident.

                Sadly she developed a chest infection at the end of March 2008, which was nothing unusual for her as she often suffered in this way. She came out with us on the Saturday (29th March) as usual although she wasn't as lively as normal.

                The following day someone from the home phoned to say that the doctor had been to see mom and prescribed antibiotics and steroids. They said that she was up and about and chatting to her friend so there was nothing to worry about.

                On the following Wednesday the nurse from the home rang to say that she had been taken to hospital to get some oxygen but that she seemed ok apart from being breathless and not to worry. Later that morning the hospital rang to say get here as quickly as you can and mom died at about 6pm. She always said she wanted to go quickly so I thank God for that.

                The people at the home were very upset to hear the news and their caring didn't stop just because mom had gone. They were so kind to us when we had to go and clear mom's room and again when we had to return to collect her rings which had been left in the safe.

                Staff from the home came to mom's funeral and brought her friend with them. There was even a man there who was the husband of one of the other residents! That was the sort of friendly place that it was.

                Sadly for me even though it was such a lovely place I still feel guilty that I didn't continue to care for her myself, I feel as though I let her down at the end. Still I have to live with that and come to terms with it in my own time.

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                  04.10.2008 20:50
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                  Advantages

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                  Lots of choices so there will always be the right one

                  ---INTRODUCTION---


                  There are 2 main types of care homes. Residential care homes and Nursing care homes with many homes offering different services. Some specialising in specific illnesses/disablities. They can be run by councils, private owners or charities and although homes and services vary, they all have to be regulated and regularly inspected by government offshoot, CSCI.



                  ---RESIDENTIAL CARE HOMES---


                  Many residential care homes have a 'speciality', ranging from dementia/alzheimers disease to old age only.

                  Things that you can expect from residential care homes are;

                  -Meals and accommodation
                  -Help with personal care
                  -Staff available 24 hours a day
                  -Physical and emotional care
                  -Care through short illnesses



                  ---NURSING HOMES---


                  Nursing homes are for people with a disability or illness that means they need nursing care on a frequent basis. A registered nurse is on duty 24 hours a day.

                  Nursing homes offer the same as a residential care home as well as care for more complex conditions and terminal illnesses.



                  ---COMMISION FOR SOCIAL CARE SERVICES---


                  CSCI regulate and inspect all care homes, to ensure the service users are looked after in a safe and caring environment. They help improve standards of social care and stamp out bad practice.

                  All care homes recieve quality ratings of excellent, good, adequate and poor.

                  The CSCI are an important organisation and very useful in choosing the right care home. Their website offers advice on using care services and has a list of all registered care homes, also showing their 'speciality'.



                  ---MY EXPERIENCE---


                  I have worked in 'care' for almost 8 years now. I started when I was 16 and about to leave school, originally a way to earn extra money whilst I studied at college. I soon started to enjoy it and the satifaction I gained from helping people. The regulations have now changed, meaning nobody under the age of 18 can administer personal care. Although I understand that an elderly person may feel uncomfortable having assistance from a young person, it does mean that fewer people are choosing this as a career and an already short staffed profession is suffering further. Add to this the huge amount of paperwork

                  I have worked in 2 residential care homes, the first for 4 years where I gained an NVQ level 3 enabling me to be a 'Senior', administering medication and supervising other staff members. The home I worked in was registered for 19 and was a mix of dementia (EMI), physical disalbilties and old age. I enjoyed the variety of residents and each day was never the same.

                  The home I work in now is registered for 14, specialising in EMI only. I have worked here for nearly 4 years and although it is harder in repects of the residents, I enjoy the challege of looking after them. The people I look after can be aggressive, I have finished work on many occasions with bruises, cuts etc but I still love my job.

                  Looking after people that have so many amazing stories, with many that fought in wars for our country is a pleasure. There is no greater honour than caring for people in their last moments/days/months/years and giving them the best quality of life you can.

                  The people I work with are just as passionate about the job as I am. There are fantastic care homes out there, but sadly the only ones you hear about happen to be bad. These really are in the minority.


                  ---Extra Information---


                  For more information on care homes visit;
                  www.direct.gov.uk/en/HealthAndWellBeing/HealthServices/CareHomes/index.htm

                  or CSCI

                  www.csci.org.uk

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