On Thursday I described how I’m setting about finding a care home for mum. After a process involving “must have” criteria, shortlists, in-depth interviews and several visits, my sister and I finally chose two homes. We have reservations about both. It turns out one of them may have doubts about us!

Thinking about respite

Earlier in July, with hope fading of a permanent place coming up anytime soon, I talked to my social worker about respite. Social services have previously organised short-term care for mum, so that I can return home and have a holiday with Jack, my husband.

Possible place at preferred home

The social worker made a few calls and discovered that there was likely to be a room available soon, at one of our two preferred homes (which I’m calling Home A and B). My last blog post described my growing concerns about Care Home A, so Home B was now becoming my number one choice.

It turned out a male resident was poorly, and therefore expected to give up his room shortly. With a permanent place within sight, respite seemed less crucial. I asked the manager of Care Home B what we could do to help transition mum, if a room should become available. She suggested bringing mum in for lunch.

My sister took mum for lunch two weeks ago. The experience confirmed our previous positive feelings about the place. I followed up about next steps, and learnt it was too early for the home to assess mum, as after all there was no room free yet.

I’m ashamed to say I have checked up on the poor man’s health several times since I learnt of his imminent demise, and I was disappointed to hear that he was rallying. I asked if we would get a call when the room became available, and at that point found that mum was third on the waiting list!

Checking out another care home for respite

So I returned to thinking about respite care so I could go home for a break. I went to see a care home nearby that I had visited twice before, and had discounted. I thought it might do for a short stay. Let’s call this one Care Home C. Care Home C claims to be dementia specialist and is a short walk away from mum’s home. After a positive interview with the Assistant Manager and a tour of the home, I found myself wondering why I hadn’t shortlisted it. It turned out they had a room available.

I floated the idea that if mum settled during her short stay, then perhaps we could think of making this her more permanent home.

Mum being assessed

To assess mum, Care Home C wanted her to visit for a couple of hours, without me being there. This is not just a formality. Mum had “failed” an assessment at a different home that she was booked to stay in last year. During her two hours, she attempted to leave repeatedly, struggling to open the windows in every bedroom, and then setting off an alarm as she tried an emergency exit! Needless to say, this care home didn’t think they “could meet mum’s needs”.

I took mum to Care Home C for lunch and assessment early last week. The Assistant Manager requested a second visit. After the second visit, they still weren’t sure. At the manager’s request I took mum in again on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. As I’ve been dropping mum off and collecting her, I’ve been getting a good impression of the staff, the home and the manager.

Then two come at once

Meanwhile, I got an email from Care Home B telling me they have a vacancy. Having confirmed I was still interested in the room, the manager suggested lunch and an assessment, which we arranged for Sunday, tomorrow.

When I collected mum from Care Home C on Wednesday, they were still not certain they could take her, even for respite. It has occurred to me that they may have heard some stories about mum from a carer who comes to us two evenings a week. The homecare agency is owned by the same family (husband and wife) as Care Home C.

Mum has been quite unsettled with this carer recently. One night mum was determined to leave the house (I prefer the doors not to be locked). She attempted to clamber over dividing walls to get to a neighbour’s house and then she banged on the doors of another neighbour (who thankfully wasn’t in).

Mum stays overnight

I told Care Home C I needed a decision by Monday, as we were being offered a room in another care home. The manager felt confident all would be fine but were keen to see how mum would do overnight. They asked to keep her for two nights from Thursday through to today, Saturday.

While mum has been away, I’ve been enjoying precious time off. Clothes shopping, writing blog posts and watching Killing Eve. Such a nice change not to have to watch Songs of Praise, which is one of only three TV programmes mum actively enjoys.

Hopefully, both care homes will say yes to mum. The decision will be difficult, as you can never really know which would be better. But then again, it’s entirely possible that both homes decide they can’t accommodate mum.

Stay tuned to find out what happens next in my search for a good care home for mum….

9 thoughts on “Finding a Good Care Home for Mum (Part 2)

  1. The situation seems so varied across the country. Where we are there is a surplus of homes so they are desperate to take people. This gives families choice but in reality it is still the case that homes cannot provide what is needed by people with dementia; they are cared for in a physical sense but spend their days wandering the corridors trying to get home.
    Choice may be just an appearance

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    1. Yes, that’s true. Though there are things that could make a difference. One has got a good reputation for being homely, the staff being warm, and they have two dogs and a parrot; big pluses. Though it is ramshackle, carpets worn and positively shabby. The other one is a nicer space, with bigger communal rooms, more light, recently decorated but still looks a bit institutional. The staff seem very warm, it’s supposed to be dementia specialist. Sadly doesn’t have animals. Neither of them have free access to outside space which is worrying me. You need a carer to take you outside in both. I know mum was taken outside a lot at the bigger one when she stayed there (but that’s because she was agitated), and am reassured people are taken out a lot in the other one… But as you said in your last comment, the decision doesn’t have to be forever if mum doesn’t settle!

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  2. I hope your mum’s stay went well and you can move forward. The constant uncertainty must be very stressful.
    I hadn’t realised before our own experiences, just how lacking any kind of help is. Endless phone calls that just bring us back to the same place, it’s so frustrating.
    It sounds like your mum is amenable to going into residential care, that at least is a bonus but other than that it’s far too stressful a process I think.
    Lots of luck with everything Julia xxx

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    1. Thanks Sally, Not going so well. Care home C agreed to take mum for respite. She had a fall within first 24 hours. I’ve spent the best part of two days in hospital with her. I had scheduled some work during this time and planned to move home. All on hold. Not great start to recovering my life. But I’ve been glad to see mum again, earlier than I was planning. I was already missing her!

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  3. My sister and I took the conscious decision to keep mum in her own home. We knew all about care home practices,as my niece was nursing in one for a while and my brother in law is a caretaker in one. We had to weigh up the situation carefully. As we live in Scotland, care is free. She had 4 visits daily. We couldn’t have worked or had a ‘normal’ family life without this service. Don’t get me wrong, we would have looked for a care home if she had a medical condition that would have needed 24 hour support that we couldn’t have provided,but luckily she didn’t. You are entitled to 6 weeks respite care yearly,but the most mum had was 4. Sometimes we wished we hadn’t bothered,as to get her back into her ‘routine’ when she came home took about 3weeks! She had one fall when she was there,but that was dealt with by us and the care comission. The home itself was pleasant enough and the staff kind,but it was heart wrenching for us leaving her there,but at the same time,we had to get a break. Even though we had the carers,we were still there every day,morning,noon and evenings. This went on for 7 years. Mum passed away 3 years ago at the grand age of 97. We went from running around 24/7,to nothing! That was hard. We miss her every day. She was the funniest person on the planet,even in her last year,when her words were all jumbled up! Would we do it again? Absolutely. I hope you find somewhere for her that meets her needs,as well as yours.

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    1. Dear Catherine Oh dear I am so sorry about the delay in seeing and responding to your message. Your story of how you cared for your mum is truly inspiring and I think you should be very proud you were able to do that. Although my mum doesn’t need nursing care, she couldn’t be left on her own for any time at all. I once went upstairs for a day time nap (mum was up a lot at night) and within minutes she was rushing outside in tears and feeling worried that she was in the house on her own. Sometimes coming back from a two hour excursion together, I would leave mum watching a favourite programme on TV while I prepared the meal. After five minutes she would ask me to just keep her company for five minutes. She had no idea that we had spent hours together and in each other’s company. Because she needed fairly constant support, I’m not sure I could have continued even if I wasn’t so keen to get back home to my own home in Brighton, and husband. We did think about 24 hour home care but sometimes when I left my mum to play badminton in the evenings, she would get quite anxious with the carers, and demand that they left, or she would leave herself. One carer locked the doors so she couldn’t get out. So I didn’t think that would work either.

      I agree with you about respite, it was very disorientating. I was reluctant to do respite again. It did take her a long time to get mum back into her routines. Thanks for taking the time to read the post and comment. Very best, Julia

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