In Andrew’s words…
My mother moved into sheltered accommodation after my father died. She had a series of mini-strokes, which progressively slowed her up and affected her capabilities, but she was basically OK. I was her only child and I used to ring her every night. One evening I called her as usual and about 15 minutes into the conversation, I realised she was on the floor. She couldn’t reach the emergency cord, but she could get to the phone.
She subsequently had two full-blown strokes and was hospitalised. The occupational therapist said, ‘You can’t live on your own’ and that began the hunt for a nursing home.
The importance of ‘emotional needs’ in the needs assessment
It was crucial that when they did her assessment of needs, it stated that one of the priorities was that I’m her only son, and one of her emotional needs was to be near me.
The driving force I had was: she’s up there, I’m down here – the most important thing was to have her close to me. It was crucial that when they did her assessment of needs, it stated that one of the priorities was that I’m her only son and one of her emotional needs was to be near me. We absolutely made sure it included that. My mother was a senior nurse who’d spent a lot of her career working with geriatrics, firing out the orders to make sure they were properly cared for. Our requirements weren’t at all about luxury accommodation. The most important thing was that she’d feel the standard of care was good because that was her passion.
Then there was the issue of the budget. She needed to move 250 miles south, where nursing home prices were far higher. The ‘going rate’ in the north east was far lower than the cost where I live in Oxfordshire, which is one of the highest.
For this reason, we were told it would be very difficult to place her near us and that we should try some of the cheaper neighbouring counties. We were looking further and further away, but then we went to see a home near us that we thought might be suitable for her.
The best possible care
You could tell as soon as you walked through the door that it was a caring place. We checked the inspection reports and it had a good reputation. The lucky break was that the manager had a vacancy and was prepared to accept the rate that the ‘exporting’ county was prepared to pay. If she hadn’t, I don’t know what we would have done – I suppose we would have had to make up the balance somehow. But the manager was great actually: she was prepared to take my mother on those terms. Job done.”
[Marion was happy in the home, where Andrew and his family were able to visit regularly until she peacefully died there.]
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