The first stop looked great online: an impressive stone mansion in its own grounds. I thought it would appeal to Mum's taste for the high-life, and a certain level of care was implied because it is operated by a well-known healthcare company. In reality, sadly, the original Manor has been vastly and not-too-sensitively extended to provide up to a hundred more rooms. These are on the generic side, though reasonably large and all en-suite. But the place feels gloomy and deserted and smells a little of urine. I was oppressed by the huge bare communal lounges devoid of anyone socialising. The only residents I saw were sitting alone in their rooms with their doors open to the corridor. On the plus side, the nurse that showed us around seemed warm and kind and the presence of the gentleman on reception in a tight grey wig, skirt and make-up implied a tolerant and surprisingly individual atmosphere given the size of the operation and the corporate nature of the owners.
Next up was a smaller place on the edge of a peninsula and actually close to where we had once lived as a family. I was very keen on this place in principle given the familiar surroundings and great views. Initial impressions were equally favourable: the interior was very well maintained with an 'arts and crafts' feel to it. The communal areas were exquisite and far more home-like than at the Manor, but again empty of residents. Once again, all the old folk were in their rooms. Small rooms. Most of them without a private bathroom. They take their meals there because there isn't a dining room downstairs. The Senior Nurse who showed us around seemed extremely competent if a touch steely. I worried that maybe the place was a little strict. It certainly seemed even less stimulating than the previous place.
After that, the other two places ruled themselves out of consideration due to location or poor presentation. One of them was so shabby and decrepit that I couldn't even find a door-bell and I wasn't too happy about the cracked window I saw either. The other was too near a busy road for my liking, given Mum's propensity to wander.
So I left my house at 10am and was back at around 1:30am and no closer to finding a new home for Mum. I'm sure the exhaustion is still colouring my reaction, but I keep telling myself that at least I've started looking.