Moving Home – A Positive Development

The Spring brought good news – Something Dad has been waiting on for three years – The offer of a new apartment 

Back in 2014 my dad had been considering moving to a smaller place, maybe a ground floor apartment. He had been viewing a few new developments during that time, but I didn’t think he really wanted to leave his lovely home as he just loved being in his garden, which was his pride and joy.

However, two years later when my dad had a heart attack and became very frail, we talked about the idea of a possible move, thinking this would be the time he would have to consider this as an option.  Dad was very poorly and throughout his recovery I always worried about the stairs in his home, which he now struggled with.

It wasn’t too long before I heard about a new development which had been under construction for a number of months in our local town, not far from my dads current home.  It was to be an extra-care development with a number of two bedroom bungalows as well as one and two bedroom apartments.  The site undergoing construction was that of an old watch factory which was being d developed by the local housing trust for the elderly in our home town.  Names were being taken by residents within the borough who had an interest in applying for a property, and it wasn’t long before my dad and I were sitting in the local council office going through the details of the development, and my dad made the decision to file his application for a property.

May 2015 – Dad was on the list for a property, this was something really positive to look forward to and dad was certainly happy about it.  He was looking forward to moving into a home that didn’t have stairs.  However, two years later the wait went on, there was delays in the development which was disappointing.  By this time dads health had  become worse and, as you know from reading my blog, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s related dementia.  He had suffered from another fall and hospital stay, despite everything that was in place to protect him.  Dads short-term memory was getting worse and I was becoming more concerned about leaving him on his own at times.

March 2018 – Good News – Dad receives a letter informing him that he has been selected for an apartment in the new extra-care development, dad seemed happy about it, but the memory loss effected his ability to plan ahead or look forward to the move as he would forget what we had discussed about his new place.  I would keep reminding him about it, making sure dad had time to take it all in, I knew he would forget our discussions so I would leave little notes about it and pictures of the new development for him to read.  I would also drive dad past the site regularly and show him where he would soon be moving to.  I must admit, I was worried how the change would impact on my dad, despite his the interest he showed, I was very much aware that he may not be taking all this in.

May 2018 Dad is invited to view his new apartment in the new development – The site is known as ‘The Watchfactory’ and has a history going back to the 1800s when watches were made here in Prescot: 

The link below takes you on a journey back in time to see the history of the Watchfactory:

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/prescot-watch-factory-development-100-year-old-9429628

The much awaited day arrived, I was taking my dad to view his new apartment, we were told we could take measurements at this time for carpets and blinds etc. . and discuss any concerns we had regarding the property.  This was also the day that dad would have to agree to accept his property ( a lot to take in on an initial visit)

Here is a photo of me and my dad arriving at the new development in May 2018

On the far right of this photo you can see a foundation stone which was laid at the site of the original building of the Prescot Watchfactory in 1889 by Lady Margaret Cecil, apparently this stone now sits close to the original place were it was laid all those years ago.  What a great piece of history retained here in Prescot.

In my next post I will tell you more about dads ‘moving day’ and the difficulties we, as a family have faced, moving dad from the last home he shared with my lovely mum (who passed away 13 years ago) It certainly hasn’t been an easy move, its been very traumatic and upsetting, but I know it’s been the best option for my dad.

I will also tell you a little bit more about the history of the Watchfactory and of Lady Margaret Cecil.

Chris x

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Home Care – Positives & Negatives

It’s good to be back, finding time to update my blog again.  I still can’t believe I’ve only found the time to write one blog post in 11 months, I guess it shows just how busy life has been with caring for my Dad. . 

In my last post I discussed the positive’s of my ‘Carer Assessment’ and the steps I’d taken to put a ‘Care Package’ in place for my Dad.  However, it was not easy sailing, it took a long time to get the right amount of support for my dad without taking away some of his independence.  It was also quite difficult for me to rely on others to help care for my Dad, I had just spent over 2yrs taking responsibility for all aspects of his care, medication, hospital appointments etc. . This was a learning curve in ‘Trust’ and ‘Sharing’ in others i.e Experienced Carers (or so I thought)

The Care Plan – Initial Meeting with Care Providor 

After an initial meeting with the ‘Care Providor’ a ‘Care Plan’ was created and signed off, this listed the care my dad would receive, which including help with personal care, washing & dressing, medication & nutrition.  It was noted during the meeting that Dad had almost stopped making himself anything to eat, other than tea & toast and that I had taken on all of the meal preparation over the last few months ( a requirement that would be now be met by the Carers)

Care Package:

September 2017 – The care package was (as always) discussed with my Dad, he agreed with the plan, which was put into action the following week.  I agreed to take a step back during this time to see how the care package was progressing, I would still be there in between the carer visits to check on my Dad, and I would carry on doing all of his cleaning, washing, shopping & taking care of his garden.  I would also be making sure everything agreed was taking place, and documented in the care plan file.  The care plan file listed dads needs, and each visit was documented with the time the carer arrived, what had taken place, and the time they had left.  This provided me with the information I needed to make sure the appropriate care was being given, and I could also see what dad had been eating & drinking (or what he had refused to eat on some visits)

My decision to put the care package in place for my dad, came following a fall and a hospital stay where I witnessed a real change in my dad, he became very confused and disorientated and this caused me some concern.  I also felt it was something I had to consider after my carer assessment, due to the increased pressure I felt I was under caring for my dad on my own.

Positives:

There was a lot of positives to report, although it was difficult knowing other people were letting themselves into my dads house (a key safe was installed which contained a key for the Carers) I had to put my trust in them.  I was assured that professional experienced Carers would be involved in my dads care, they would be understanding of his needs and be competent in caring for the elderly. (I had requested that dads Carers were more mature as I didn’t think young Carers would be accepted by my dad especially around his personal care, washing & dressing, the social worker and the care manager had both agreed to this request) Dad is a very proud man and he wouldn’t take kindly to a young carer helping him wash or dress, he would feel as if they had better things to do and I knew this would be a problem (dad has a granddaughter in her 30s and he certainly wouldnt allow her to help him wash/dress) I wanted to make sure dads dignity would be considered at all times.

The first few visits went well, Carers were arriving on time and following the care plan, dad was happy with the care he was getting and the help with meal preparation and medication. Dad seemed happy and I found my visits more relaxed as I could be the ‘daughter’ again.  I could read the care file to check on dads food intake and the times of arrival.  I found the kitchen to be tidy, dishes washed, dad looking clean and tidy, so all good to start with.

There had been a number of different Carers at first, even though we discussed continuity of care with the care services, but I let this go at first as I wanted to see how everything would become established over the next few weeks.

Eventually it seemed that continuity had been established and Dad had been assigned three lovely mature Carers, who I met in the early days of his care package, and I was very happy with them.  They soon got used to my dads needs, they gained his trust and mine and they stayed in touch with me, which was really good of them.  Dad soon began to look forward to each one of them calling, he built up a great rapport with them as they took time to sit and chat with him, getting to know him and his life experiences.  I even started to call in when they were there some days and it was lovely to see dads sense of humour returning, they brought out his cheeky side again.

The months that followed brought a little sense of relief to me, the care package was going well, dad seemed to enjoy the Carers coming in, he soon started to offer them cups of tea when they arrived, even though they insisted that’s what they were her to do for him! That was dads politeness coming through and that had to be good.

It wasn’t long before they got used to my dad, they soon realised he would have days when he would say he wasnt hungry, or that he’d already ate something, but they knew this wasn’t right and they would liaise with me, they would also start to encourage dad with a choice of breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just make him something nice and invite him to the table, where he would eat his meals, they would sit with him and have a cup of tea with him.

Some mornings dad would already be up and about before the carer arrived and although that was good for his own independence, it was worrying as dad was very vulnerable in the morning due to his balance and lack of coordination. Some days he would wash and shave, but most days he needed help or prompting with this.

It wasn’t long before dad had days when he would insist that he could stay in bed, and the carer would call me to let me know, on these occasions I would go and encourage him to get up, help him wash and dress and prepare breakfast.  However, due to the patience of the carers, they soon started to encourage dad to get out of bed while they were there.  They had a lovely way of talking to him, they would also remind him that it was safer for them to help him (I could see that dads independent streak could come out still, and you had to respect that)

By the end of 2017 I noticed that Dads short-term memory had started to decline more, he couldn’t remember if anyone had been some days, and he would sometimes say that he had cooked, or washed up as nobody had been near.  This, I knew was not true, but I never contradicted dad, what was the point of that?  I would just read the care file to make sure. . .

Negatives:

I don’t really want to focus on the negatives of the care package because I was always able to rectify any issues by speaking with the care services.  However, there were times when I did despair and wondered how anyone going into a vulnerable elderly persons home and leaving, knowing they had not given the care required, could be ignored.  My dad was lucky, he had a voice in me, I was also well informed of the services and the expectations of good and bad care! I had worked in the NHS for 28yrs and was familiar with the good and sometimes poor care! My dad was vulnerable and under no circumstances would my he become a victim of bad care, not on my watch.

Although we had established a continuity of care with the two to three Carers, there were times they had days off, holidays, sick leave etc. . and other Carers had taken on dads calls.  This is when numerous instances of concern crept in, most of the time it I felt it was due to the lack of experience and knowledge of the elderly and their needs as well as the general complacency of young Carers.  I am, by no means making any statement that ‘young Carers’ are not carrying out their expected care duties with compassion, as I have come across a number of young Carers who do a great job under immense pressure.  However, a certain person who was assigned to my dad on a few occasions left me with quite a few reasons to be concerned, all of which was reported to the care agency.  Here are just some of the issues addressed during this time:

  • Late morning arrivals – Dad already up, dressed, trying to make his breakfast
  • Lunch/Dinner – Meals not made as dad had said he’d already eaten
  • Meals left out – Not observed eating so left to go cold (not eaten)
  • Missed calls – Dad had been forgotten on some occasions.
  • Meds forgotten to be administered
  • Dad left in stained clothing (food spills)
  • Times not being adhered too (quick in & out calls and not the half hour as agreed)

All of the above happened over a number of months, and each time I raised concerns with the care service, they always apologised and agreed they would speak with the carer, unfortunately it still happened.

I was surprised to be told that the care service had a shortage of Carers in my dads area, and that other Carers had to cover from a different area, hence the late calls some days, but this was not good practice surely, and was not discussed in any meeting with the care services prior to the care plan and times of visits being agreed!

Having had several meetings with dad’s social worker and the care services, it was always agreed that dads care plan could be met.  After all this was a paid service, it wasn’t free, the cost was coming out of my dads pocket, and we should not have had any part of his care compromised due to staff shortages.

These services are bid for, they have to show they can provide the service prior to any funding being commissioned.  Therefore, to be told by the care providor that shortages led to my dads care issues seemed very inappropriate.

I was eventually left with no option but to request this person be removed from attending my dads home.

Eventually things got better, dad gained the support and care he required, as agreed in his care plan.  The two Carers he was lucky to have, provided the best care and support throughout each day, they thought so much about my dad and treated him with respect at all times.  They took the time to talk with him, laugh with him and most of all became friends with him and myself. They met my son & daughter and my grandchildren, they talked about their families too, it was really nice to get to know these two lovely ladies who cared about my dad, and were generally concerned if he wasn’t his usual self.

I made sure I praised their commitment, support and respect, all of which I passed onto the care service and social worker during review meetings.

Things were going well and I started to feel less guilty about considering the care package. . . Both, Dad and I had made two lovely friends, and over the next few months everything was going well and we were soon into the spring of 2018.