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….