Saturday, 1 December 2007


Mum rejected the first Home out of hand, saying that it was "too close" but not able to explain why that was a bad thing. I suspect that she doesn't want to meet any of her current neighbours after being 'sent away'. We drove on, with Mum wincing and sucking air through her teeth to let me know how much she needed the toilet again.

I drove to our old town, where there's a brand new Care Facility (I'd use that word instead of 'home') that came recommended by Mum's Social Worker. It certainly looked pristine and impressive, with sunlight flooding down 3 stories from a glass roof into a central atrium. The rooms were well-specified and en-suite and there were hand-rails around all the walls. Mum was smiling and nodding and seeming agreeable, but I had concerns that the place was a prison - so many doors that needed swiped cards or keys to get through and the House Manager walking around with a necklace of about 20 sets of keys and cards. Also, the other residents looked very far gone in their Dementia, lolling and drooling and calling out incoherently. I kept looking at Mum's face to check if she was alarmed, but her attention was on our guide and I'm not sure she took in anything that wasn't pointed out to her. And of course, all she was thinking about was going to the loo. I found her a WC and she went inside. As she came out she announced that she needed the toilet and that she thought there was one there... pointing across the hallway. This while stood in the threshold of the toilet she was leaving. Curious.

I drove Mum on to the next recommended Care Home. We had been advised that this one had no current vacancy, but I wanted to get a sense of what constitutes a "good Home". This time, the Home was an older property - a Victorian double-fronted house set back from a busy road. Once inside, however, I understood why the Social Worker had recommended the place. The Owner and her staff were so warm and friendly and full of humour. As a converted family home, the corridors were not designed for Zimmer frames and there were ramps and a stair-lift in place to overcome obstacles for the infirm. We inched our way past single and shared bedrooms (not en-suite) and into a lounge at the back of the house. Here, I was encouraged to see a group of residents actually interacting and seemingly retaining their wits. The Owner told us that a couple of the residents had recently celebrated their 104th birthdays, which I took as a good sign. I was charmed by the Owner and felt that this was a person I'd be happy to care for my Mother. Where the modern Home had the facilities I'd wish for, this place had heart.

During our 45 minutes there, Mum didn't ask to use the toilet once. Curious.

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