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70, Stratford-upon-Avon

Hall arranged care for his mother Doris when she became frail and forgetful in her eighties.

“My mum was of the war generation – she was called up when she was 18 and she was a welder. She was very capable, sewing and knitting (she made clothes for us as children), and was an excellent cook. She loved music and ballroom dancing, was very sociable, even taking up badminton in her late 60s after Dad died. Though she didn’t have a career, she enjoyed life.

As she got into her eighties, she resisted old age and considered herself to be perfectly capable of looking after herself, but she slowly became more reliant on family for things like shopping and cleaning. Her short-term memory gradually got worse, and things like remembering how to change the TV channel became a bit of a problem. Her eyesight deteriorated as well, and she had pills for various ailments – and sometimes she’d take two a day, or none at all. It all became a bit of a worry

Getting support at home

A social worker visited and Mum made light of everything and said, ‘Oh yes I do all my own shopping’ and there’s me shaking my head behind her back to say, ‘No she doesn’t!’

So the social worker arranged a daily visit and a weekly clean, which was a great help. I knew someone was checking on her every day and making sure she took her pills. Mum, being very independent, would say to the cleaner: ‘Leave that, dear, I can do that,’ so I found a way round that was to take Mum out for a bit of lunch before the cleaner arrived and return when the coast was clear and that worked fine.

At the time the carers were contracted to the local authority and that could be a problem. If I needed to report that visits were getting later or shorter, all I could do was tell the social services and hope they would take it up with the care agency.

"When I took over employing the carers direct, via an agency, that was much better, because I could speak directly to them."

Employing carers directly

When I took over employing the carers direct, via an agency, that was much better, because I could speak directly to them and they wanted to please me because I was the client and I was in the driving seat. And actually one of the cleaners was particularly good and we ended up paying her privately to do the work because it got done properly. But you do have to be prepared to respond if the agency reports something amiss.

The thing is, you can pay for help and support for an aged relative, but you can’t really buy true care. Care is a by-product of friendship and love really, isn’t it – you need to have an emotional connection, so true care usually comes from a friend or a relative. Visiting carers are bound by time and outcomes, and that doesn’t always fit in with an older person’s needs – they can’t be rushed and sometimes they just want a chat and a bit of company.”

More information

  • Financing care at home: read about your options, including self-funding care and exploring the possibility of getting local authority funding.
  • Choosing a home care agency: get as much information as possible before making that final decision about which home care agency to work with.
  • Radar keys: if your relative is registered as disabled, they can obtain a radar key to give them access to disabled toilets across the UK.

Page last reviewed: December 2016
Next review due: October 2018