• Audio
  • 10 minutes

Scene 2: 'It was purpose built, just last year'

Updated Monday, 12th January 2015
Listen to the second part of Louise's story where Katherine is unable to care for her mother any longer and looks at temporary respite care. 

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SCENE 2 “It was purpose built, just last year”
The GP’s appointment included an examination, which confirmed a problem with Mum’s memory. Social services provided me with booklets about choosing care homes and information on care services, since I was new to it all but we had to wait to get a formal assessment from them. 
As I couldn’t leave Mum in her own house she came back to be with us. But that got really difficult. We were trying to juggle work commitments with being with Mum, but she couldn’t understand why we couldn’t be there all the time with her. It got to the point where we all needed a break from each other. 
Mum needed to recuperate physically so I persuaded her that respite in a residential care home would be a good idea. I had to do my research at a distance, using the booklets and the internet for the Social Care Inspectorate reports. From that I made a list of which care homes looked like they offered good quality care and then I rang and spoke with the managers of those homes to arrange times they were happy to have us visit. The idea was if we could all agree on one we liked, that Mum would then stay there for at least a few weeks.
Welcome to the Laurels! You take a seat there, Mrs. Burns – and do you want to sit here Mrs. er…Harding (referring to paperwork to check name). First of all, let me tell you a bit about the home and what we offer and then we can have a little tour, and you can meet some of the other residents and see the bedrooms. They’re not big – but they are cosy and really nicely decorated. 
You’ll have your own room Mrs. Burns. You won’t have to worry about meals or anything like that - it’s all done for you. And your washing too – (to Katherine) you will need to put labels in all your mum’s clothes – and any little possessions she wants to bring – you will have to label those too. Some of our residents are very confused and get mixed up with what theirs and what is someone else’s. 
Every day we have some sort of activity session. Last month we had a celebration – one of our ladies was 100! So we got the residents involved in making the table decorations. We took some pictures and as you can see some of them were really good! 
Other things we do…exercises to keep fit – things that you can do sitting in the chair, you know, even throwing a ball for someone to catch is good exercise. People come and sing to us, the local school choir comes in now and again, we have an older gentleman who comes and sings – and some people like to join in – do you like that sort of thing? Do you like music, Mrs. Burns? 
Then there’s the usual – bingo for those that like it– or watching the telly. And we do try to take our residents out when we can –when the weather’s fine of course. 
So, shall I take you round the home now, and then we can have a cup of tea and I can hopefully answer any questions you may have. 
And of course you can ask me questions as we go round. That’s Bessie – she always thinks that visitors are for her – don’t you Bessie? Rosanna! Could you take Bessie through to the lounge while I show the visitors round please. 
The Laurels is quite new - it was purpose built just last year and we really wanted it to feel light and airy for everyone… (FADE OUT)
I don’t have siblings or any other close family so I relied on my partner and daughters to at least talk through these decisions. But it did feel odd making decisions for my Mum, not knowing where we were in our usual mother-daughter relationship. 
Eventually mum did go along with the idea of going into a residential home for a bit of respite care, even though she wasn’t very happy about it. But I felt it stopped us going around in circles.
We took Mum to the care home which came out as favourite from my desk research and which impressed us with the warmth, the openness and the caring attitude of the staff. Mum settled in well but still wanted to get back to her own home. 
A social worker then contacted me to arrange to see mum at home and find out how she might cope – which led to a care package being put in place very quickly and Mum was able to live on her own again.
Part of the difficulty in putting arrangements in place to support Mum to continue to live in her own home is that she doesn’t accept the need for it. So even though Mum has a referral from her GP to the memory clinic she won’t go because she insists there is nothing wrong with her memory. 

This podcast or article is part of the Dementia care: Louise's story collection and has been produced to give an account of what dementia care is like for the individual, the family and health and social care professionals. 

As an extension of the podcasts, articles and also your own personal experiences, you may like to have your say in our Dementia care discussion forum and hear other users' opinions on the everyday issues that occur with caring for someone with dementia.



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