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56, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire

Sian’s granny didn’t leave her home for four years. Then she became very ill.

"Granny couldn’t have stayed in her own home for as long as she had without my parents and aunt – and they are in their seventies and eighties. They did all her shopping and between them they were happy to do errands like change library books, collect prescriptions and get hearing aid batteries. That went on for years.

From about the age of 98, Granny also had paid-for carers. They came in twice a day to see her safely up or down the stairs.

Coping with a speedy decline

Then, wallop, she got a chest infection. Within days, she went from preparing most of her own food and going up and down stairs to having a bed in the sitting room and needing 24-hour care.

As well as the carers who came in twice a day, I organised a rota of five people - family and friends - to be with her. We also paid for someone to be with her through the night. She was so frail, not eating and couldn't even move from her chair to the commode on her own.

"It was really hectic, as I also had work and family commitments to juggle."

At the same time, we were trying to involve the social services, but getting nowhere. Weeks trundled by and nothing happened.

Increasing care at home

We simply couldn't cope, so we found out about increasing Granny’s care in the home from an agency. The agency we were using couldn’t provide it, so we switched to another one. That was good. But it was very expensive and, of course, the carer had to have two hours off every afternoon, so the family filled in again.

There was a huge amount to organise and co-ordinate and it was too much for my parents so I did it. It was really hectic, as I also had work and family commitments to juggle. I was phoning social services and saying, ‘My parents are in their eighties, they can’t cope with this.’ I’m sure there was an element of, ‘If the family can cope, we’ll leave it for a bit.’

Going into hospital …

A few weeks later, Granny deteriorated further. She lost the use of her legs and went into hospital. Then, after only about two weeks, they said they were ready to discharge her. We said, ‘You can’t! She’s 104 and needs care in place at home.’ This was our opportunity for the social services to do their assessment, so the hospital contacted them. Finally, the social services did something.

… and then into a care home

They said that Granny's options were that she could go home and have a visit three times a day to feed and check her, or she could go into a residential care home. We talked it over with Granny and she decided on the care home option. The question of funding was a bit vague, depended on her means being assessed. Fortunately, we found a care home that we liked and also accepted the local authority rate, which eventually the social services confirmed they would pay.

Granny is well cared for in the home, and her family and friends are able to visit her regularly.

What a fraught six months it was! You can only deal with these things on a day-to-day basis. You can’t plan for it if you don’t know what’s going to happen, can you?"

More information

Page last reviewed: May 2017
Next review due: October 2019