A Son’s Journey With Helping Hands
Everyone’s route to care is unique. To offer future and existing customers an insight into how care can work for you and your family a son of one of our current customers has agreed to share his story……………………….
Mum used to live in Norwich before she moved nearer to me. My brother, an academic lives overseas in South Africa and is unable to support unless he is over for a week or two. This can put a lot of pressure onto my family as I am the most local son.
Mum always was the ‘carer’ of the family. She cared for us children, she cared for dad. We grew up and left home and when dad died she was lost and became more and more socially isolated. She lived on an housing estate that initially had lots of neighbours in her own age group but over the years they moved away and in the end the whole estate was full of young families. This increased her feelings of isolation.
It took three years to convince her that a move to Warwickshire to be near me and her grandchildren was a good idea. She was so resistant it was unbelievable. We talked and talked and when it seemed the ‘lady was not for turning’ she suddenly announced she would move. I found a lovely warden supported flat in Stratford Upon Avon. It appeared perfect. Lots going on, social events, good ‘neighbours’. Mum agreed and we moved her thinking this would be brilliant for her! However, mum had different ideas. Her hearing was never the best and nor is her eyesight and these were given as the excuse for not joining in with the social events and building relationships. Also because she was now so local, mum’s expectations of me and the care and support I could provide increased. I ended up providing her evening meal 7 nights a week and doing her shopping and helping round the house. The balance between wanting to support mum and juggling this level of commitment with the other side of family life with my kids and wife caused a lot of tension.
Then things were taken out of my hands. Mum had a fall after a series of TIA’s or mini strokes. We were in a vicious circle. Mum was not eating, not drinking, weak and dehydrated. She drank less and less as she worried about getting to the loo. The situation was about to spiral. Mum was admitted to hospital. Her GP went to the hospital to visit her. She told him she was fine, there was no problem, she was not dizzy and could walk perfectly well. I told him the truth. She went to a 2nd hospital to convalesce and then we prepared for her to come home. We set goals. 3 weeks in the Ellen Badger Hospital in Shipston on Stour. Prove her strength had retuned and she could go home.
It was at this point that it was proposed mum should come home with professional care. Not everyday but enough to help me, to support mum, to take the pressure off. I vaguely knew Helping Hands by reputation and thought they were local. I did some research online and also asked friends, a couple of whom are doctors. Helping Hands name came up on several occasions and one friend of a friend raved about them. I contacted them and arranged for their Care Assessor, Denise to come out and meet mum at the hospital. Denise also needed to see mum’s home. Helping Hands were able to react the same day and I really did feel they had a ‘can-do’ approach. Denise was really good, She made several helpful suggestions regarding raising mum’s chair and was great at identifying and reducing risks as well as being very knowledgeable about the service they could offer. There was no hard sell. The options were well presented and we made our choice.
Mum arrived home and the very next evening Mandy a Helping Hands carer arrived at mum’s – She was scheduled to do 2 evenings a week to give me a couple of nights off for good behaviour. Mandy was like a breath of fresh air. I soon felt we needed to increase the care as the ‘risk point’ for mum was lunchtime. For continuity and as we did not want mum to be able to put up any more barriers I was delighted that Mandy was able to rearrange her schedule in collaboration with her manager at Helping Hands. So then mum started having Mandy at lunchtime 6 days a week. I covered the 7th day as mum comes to us on a Sunday for a family lunch. Mum took to Mandy and a couple of the other girls like a duck to water. Mandy remains her firm favourite though.
Things went on well for a few months and then mum had a serious fall trying to put something into the bin rather than waiting for her carer to arrive. Mum badly injured her face. She was admitted again to the local hospital. Her stay there was quite stressful and I was very pleased to be able to get her home relatively in one piece.
Clearly we needed to look again at the care. We involved Natalie, Mum’s Area Manager and asked Mandy’s advice. Mum now has, at the time of writing, four visits a day. Mum accepts she needs it and adores Mandy who is her key carer but its still a challenge for mum. She can get frustrated at times that she needs quite so much support but as its managed so well and she has a core team of carers its made everything so much easier all round.
With regard to Helping Hands as a company – I can honestly say they have been there all the way with us. Understanding and highly responsive at key moments they have exceeded my expectations every step of the way. I also feel that I have the added reassurance they can step up the support if required. From the information I have seen and from my conversations with the carer and office staff I know that they also support with full time live-in care should mum get to that level of need and that is a huge weight off my mind.