Last week there was a lot in the British press about carers in the home and you may even have caught Deborah from talkhealth talking on BBC London radio about the issues surrounding the care provided for people in their homes. Following my mother’s fall, broken wrist and discharge and then re-admittance to hospital all within a 36 hour period, I wondered what the next step was for her immediate welfare. The answer turned out to be carers in the home.
My mother’s dementia noticeably become worse whilst in hospital and after managing to get her out after a two week stay – which I have to say was a fight and the reason being I found out in the end was they had lost her notes thus the reason for an extra week’s stay…..but that’s another story. I was very keen to get her home into her own surroundings and particularly her old routine. I had hoped that this might improve her condition slightly, but alas it does seem to be a rather one way street with dementia. We were offered free care in her own home for a period of 6 weeks whilst her wrist was still in plaster. The carers were to come in 3 times a day with a brief to help her out bed, wash dress and breakfast, followed by lunch and to leave something for tea and then the last call was to check she was okay for washing and bed. In theory all sounds good along with a little house keeping. However how on earth anyone thinks that can all happen within a 30 minute session each time I have no idea.
My experience was with only one agency, and I wonder how much they may or may not differ, but would be interested to hear others experiences. Some of the carers were absolutely excellent and I do believe the agency tried to give my mother the same ones each time, however obviously that wasn’t always possible. The two main concerns or impressions I was left with was how on earth were the poor carers expected to do so much in such a short space of time and also they were never allocated enough time to either travel to their different appointments or to have enough flex in their time to help with unforeseen problems. Secondly and most worryingly – if no one turned up to help no one was any the wiser. My mother wouldn’t have a clue as to whether someone had visited her or not as one day pretty much seemed like the next during that period. I only know this as one evening I arrived and stayed and no one did turn up. When I contacted the agency they had no idea – there seemed to be no reporting in or certainly no immediate reporting of what was happening and finding out 12 hours later could be life or death for someone waiting for care.
The agency that was contracted by the NHS appeared to be totally reputable and had all the right qualifications as one would expect. But theory and practise seem to be a long way apart and in these situations they surely can’t allowed to be?