In Rachel K’s words…
It started gradually really. My mother couldn’t remember what she had to eat the day before and then, because I used to do all her shopping and get it delivered there and I would be there to put it all away, she’d say, ‘Well, why have you got me this?’ and she didn’t remember that it was her favourite food.
She had a series of falls and because she wasn’t capable of getting up and down stairs without extreme difficulty, the other members within that building were expressing concern over her ability to look after herself.
The final time she fell over, one of the residents, who is a retired GP, said that he felt we should call an ambulance. We had a paramedic and he said, ‘Well you know, she’s OK, but I would suggest that you send her for an assessment.’ So that’s what we did.
I suppose I expected the first port of call to be her GP and they were very helpful, but there’s a limit to the resources they have. They also don’t seem to be able to point you in a central direction and say this is where the information can be found that you’re looking for, or advice, or something.
In order to get my mother to an assessment, we had to call the ambulance service, who then had to do a health and safety assessment. They then said, ‘Sorry, we can’t take her.’ So I’m thinking to myself, if she’d had a heart attack or something else, you would have taken her, but because she’s going for an assessment, you’re not going to. It cost £300 in ambulance fees.
It all happened so quickly
It literally went from last fall to getting a needs assessment to realising that she’s incapable of looking after herself – and that all happened within three days. I couldn’t possibly have her living with me because she has dementia, which makes her abusive and very, very hostile. We had huge problems even trying to get my mother there and back, and basically they said that she needed 24/7 care, so I was given a booklet by somebody at the hospital while she was being assessed.
I work, my husband works, I couldn’t take any more holiday off. I’d already taken about four or five days off. I just couldn’t cope any more.
I work, my husband works, I couldn’t take any more holiday off. I’d already taken about four or five days off. I just couldn’t cope any more. So I picked the agency that said, ‘Yes, we can do it. I’ll send somebody over.’ I’m afraid the criteria was that simple, because I was that desperate.
My mother had what they called waking nights. She would sleep during the day and be up until two/three/four/five o’clock in the morning. [The agency] add extra fees for that because the careworker can’t sleep, so it was three shifts of eight hours by different people from this nursing agency, but they weren’t nurses as such they were just carers.”
[Rachel’s mother is now living in a nursing home and Rachel is happy with the care she is receiving.]
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