Yesterday, we said a sad goodbye to Lorraine, one of our regular carers, from Bridgend Council’s Bridgeway service. Bridgeway supports people with dementia to stay independent and live in their own homes as long as possible. Carers visit up to four times a day, to help with basic tasks like washing, dressing, medication and serving meals. Mum’s carers came in the mornings to help her get washed and dressed. They did so much more than that.
Bridgeway was Special
From the beginning it was clear that Bridgeway’s carers were special. They are experienced, well-trained and motivated. They are part of a professional team of carers that cover the Bridgend borough of South Wales. As one of the Bridgeway managers explained before they started, they “pick and poach” the best carers. They can because they offer better terms that recognise the value of expertise and experience, and they invest in their workforce.
Bridgeway’s carers reminded me of the women in the TV series ‘Charlie’s Angels’. They felt like the superwomen of the care sector. They supported mum to do what she could and enabled her to make choices. There was often banter, laughing and singing coming from the bathroom and bedroom in the mornings. Whatever mood mum was in before a Bridgeway’s Angel arrived, she generally seemed happy and calm by the end of the visit. We had one of three regular carers who came for several days at a time.
We were only supposed to have Bridgeway carers during a six-week assessment period, before being passed onto a care agency. I said goodbye to the carer that was with us at the end of the sixth week. I was delighted when they kept coming after that, and that the weeks became months, until 10 months had passed. We got an extension because the closure of some private care agencies meant that social services couldn’t find a care agency to take over. I hoped we would stay with Bridgeway until mum goes to a care home, in the next couple of months. Alas, that wasn’t to be.
New Carer Arrives
Today a new carer from a private agency arrived to help get mum get ready for the day. I spent an hour with the agency coordinators last week letting them know what support mum needs. There was also a handover from the Bridgeway service. Nevertheless, the new carer hadn’t been given any information about how to support mum on her first half-hour morning call. She was pleasant, but clearly inexperienced. She left mum without a continence pad which resulted in an accident shortly after she left.
Thank you, Bridgeway
We’ve been very lucky to have Bridgeway’s Angels all this time. I am so grateful to Bridgend Council for creating this professional team of delightful and skilled carers. I am very sad to see them go. Even though mum doesn’t know that her carers have stopped coming, she recognises and was comfortable with all of them.
Things won’t be the same.