As I sit here tonight my dad is in the hospital waiting for a bed in a residential care home.
If we rewind to the last time I wrote about dad, you will remember he went into respite care for 2 weeks, but following both the home and the Social Worker’s claims that he wasn’t ready for residential care, mum took him home again.
This was evidently not true as once home again, even with the sleeping tablets, things grew worse. They had a couple of good nights initially but the violent episodes and refusal to take pills happened increasingly more often.
Last Tuesday when we were on holiday I spent the day with mum. I met the Social Worker she has been dealing with and disliked her immediately. I have never been a “basher” of Social Workers, they are human and make mistakes like everyone, but not everyone who is a social worker should be. Unfortunately, their mistakes mess up a lot of other people’s lives, but even so I felt that they couldn’t all be useless.
This one bloody was though. Every question I asked, she answered to my mum instead of me, she wouldn’t make eye contact with me, she waffled for the whole hour and then finally said (this quote is verbatim) “It’s up to you what you do with him while you’re paying, we can’t get involved until he’s under the savings threshold”.
I’d like to point out that we are not arguing about having to pay. I don’t like it but we will pay while we have to (which, given that the average care home costs between £600 and £900 per week, wouldn’t be for long) but NO ONE HELPS. No one. They pass you from pillar to post and back again. The social worker said “I suggest you get him in somewhere that will take him as a Social Services resident once your money goes under the limit”, gave us the names of some homes in the area (which they are not allowed to have an opinion on) and left. Even though her first line to me when I walked in was “we’ve clearly come to a crisis point” she just left us to contact homes and to remember to “tell them you’ll only be funding privately for about 2 months”.
“It’s up to you what you do with him while you’re paying, we can’t get involved until he’s under the savings threshold”.
The crisis point to which she referred was that dad had been awake for 36 hours. He’d refused his sleeping tablets and all other meds (a regular occurrence) and had not gone to bed/sleep at all but had spent the whole night roaming the upstairs while mum shut herself in her room with an ear out for trouble. Since then he has continued to do this regularly.
Mum and I wrote a to do list and I looked through the finance forms that she had been putting off looking at. I wrote all over those in pencil for her ready for when she needs to complete them.
Dad’s behaviour has worsened over the week. I’ve likened his behaviour to a toddler – he sulks and behaves badly when mum is on the phone, he now regularly and deliberately wees on the floor, he rips buttons of things and mum has had to hide and lock away so many items recently it’s just not true.
Mum spent several days trying to get in touch with her preferred home and on the 3rd day of trying she was told that dad could only have a space there if he was referred by Social Services. This was the complete opposite of what the social worker had told us.
On the Friday Dad had a check-up at the Memory Clinic and the doctor there made a point of seeing Mum on her own. He said he understood that things were deteriorating and they discussed the options available – Dad could have anti-psychotics which have awful side effects, or they could up the memantine dosage again. Mum went with the second option. Then the Doctor said “would you like to speak to our social worker?”
Excuse me? "OUR" SOCIAL WORKER???
Dad has been a patient of the memory clinic for over 2 years and no one had ever mentioned that they even HAD a social worker.
Anyway, they set to work immediately trying to find a place even though it was a Friday and told mum they’d get back to her on Monday.
On Monday when mum and the Social Worker caught up she told mum that there were still no beds available but that she would arrange for them to be assessed to get interim help so that mum would have in-house help with dad at nights, his worst time. There was no cover for the Monday night in the end, so they were supposed to be assessed yesterday.
But then, yesterday the day care centre had to call an ambulance for dad because he’d collapsed. He ended up going to hospital because they thought he might have been having another stroke, but ultimately they could find nothing wrong with him, so they decided that it was the culmination of the sleep tablets he’d taken (on the occasion he’s actually taken them) and then not actually sleeping.
Sadly, last night, mum had to call 999 again because of dad’s violence, and this has led us to where we are now. The paramedics said they thought it best to take dad in, and as he went willingly he wouldn’t need to be sectioned.
Finally, it seems to have clicked with those concerned that dad DOES need to be in a home and today people finally started to do something about it.
Dad is currently in the EADU because there’s no beds on the general wards, but mum is sticking to her guns that he’s not coming home now.
My dad. He's a person, not a case.
What sort of society do we live in where it needs to get to this stage before anyone will help? Why are there so little resources directed to care of the elderly? It’s because there are too many people out there willing to pick up the slack. They know that families will care for the person for as long as they can – they bank on that fact. We didn’t even want immediate financial help, just advice, some support for my mum. As usual, it varies from county to county but more and more I was hearing “if your dad goes to hospital that’s your chance to get the care”.
It shouldn’t have to be like that. We owe our elderly more than that.