Heading East in the morning to spend time with Mother at the hospital, and to view nursing homes.
Sorry, I mean care homes with nursing that specialise in looking after residents with dementia.
It pays to get the vocabulary right, or too late you find you have had an entire conversation at cross purposes.
You also learn to watch for the loaded phrase, such as ‘best interests’ and understand how that is defined by the Mental Capacity Act.
Since the notes for guidance to this act has been my bedtime reading for about eighteen months, I’ve become quite good at spotting these which some professionals use as conversational landmines.
The specialising in dementia part is important too. When it was understood that Mother’s house is not worth a fortune, and that social services will not be recouping from a bottomless pot when it is sold, it was suggested that Mother’s needs could be met in a home without the dementia specialism.
This on the grounds that her dementia leads her to call everyone darling and say she loves them, rather than chucking jugs of cold water over them. So she would be easy to manage. Nothing about the need for staff to understand where she is coming from.
But isn’t she being deprived of rehab under the NHS because of her dementia? Doesn’t this cut both ways?
So, we said it was not in Mother’s best interest to go to a home where staff are not skilled at working with people living with dementia. We’ve seen quite enough of that in hospital thanks.
Trouble is, our shortlist is very short. We’ve struggled to find four homes. Two of these are in awkward locations. A third, whose the manager was very friendly and positive on the ‘phone, does not have en suite loos and showers. Which leaves us with one.
A while ago there was a wonderful comedy series on Radio 4 called Beauty of Britain, where Beauty Olonga, star of a gospel choir, works as a carer for the elderly through an agency. Coming from a different culture, her perception f care homes, which she describes as all being named after trees and places where we leave our relatives when we don’t want to look after them any more.
I find I’m thinking about it more and more frequently.