Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Betty requests to go somewhere to be looked after

Suddenly, one day after the hospital appointment the manager at the Sheltered housing called to say that Betty is in need of a higher level of support than can be offered by the wardens. She is calling the wardens all the time and expecting them to act as security and companions. She is weeping and not getting off the bed.
Luckily, a work colleague had his father in a facility near to Betty's flat. So without seeing the home I rang and asked if they had a bed for respite care. This was at 10.00 a.m. They had - hurrah! Someone would be out to assess Mum at 2.30 p.m. I went over and found her, as described, in low spirits. She said " I need to go somewhere to be looked after". Sue, the Senior worker from the facility arrived to assess Mum. She confirmed Mum was suitable for residential care and she would talk to her manager. It was now 3.15 p.m. " Is it possible for her to come tonight? She does not need a meal."
Fingers crossed and she rang to say " Yes". We packed the bags, complete with the cocktail of drugs and used the famous lightweight wheelchair to transfer to the car. Betty does not want to walk.
When we arrived it was a relief to see a large, modern facility. The staff were so welcoming and we arrived in a simple, clean and fresh room. Betty sat in the wing chair. Blanket on legs and one round her shoulders. Hard to believe this was my fiesty mother! She sat with her right hand supporting her forehead and could give no reason why it was so comfortable to be like that.

I was able to leave knowing that she had the right level of support. I telephoned the Dr and he remained of the opinion she did not need to be in care and advised me to be led by her as to where she stayed.
The next day the staff told me she had stayed in her room all day, hardly eaten, head in hands. " I have lived too long" she said. What happens next? I wondered.

How can the Dr know how much attention is required?

For 2 weeks Betty phoned early in the morning to confirm " I am not at all well!" Only 2 options in sheltered housing: Call the Dr or call me. My response, advised by the Dr is that he does not need to be called. So the next option for Betty is to call the warden to support her opinion. The warden on duty might change, but they all got involved. In the end the Dr was persuaded that there might be something wrong and we went to the hospital for a geriatric assessment. I accompanied Betty into the appointment. She failed to recall exactly how long she was a smoker . When reminded of the 40 years from 20 - 60, it was hard to realise that she gave up 26 years ago. She had not realised that the chest and heart problems started 8 years ago and that her mobility has reduced over 3 years. According to Betty everything has happened in the last 12 months.
I was sent away for two hours. ECG, Heart and chest checks. The diagnosis was a racing heart and depression. The drugs would take 7 days or more to lift her mood.
I asked if we could have a walking frame and the team arrived to assess Betty's ability to go home independently. Exaggerated tales of preparing salads and light meals persuaded the team she was ready to go home. They suggested day centres, meals to be delivered, companions and interests.
When we arrived back at the sheltered flats it was a different story. Betty did not want to be independent. She checked the warden was available and hailed a next door neighbour to request support in an emergency. The neighbour reminded her that the red pully is available to call a warden. I had a feeling that this was not going to be easy. Betty was attention seeking.
"Are you sure I am OK to be left?" " Yes Betty, the Drs have confirmed you are fine."

Monday, 8 October 2012

Liz is a wife and a mother too Betty!

Betty is not at all well. She really isn't. It has been 4 days since she walked properly. She struggles to breathe and cannot stand upright. With the aid of the lightweight travel wheelchair we have been out and about. After 4 days of description of a life that is very hard and a reluctance to eat and miserable conversation I decided to bring in the reserves and recruited my husband for a Saturday afternoon drop in. On arrival Betty instructed me to sort out her soup in the microwave. I had only just walked in the door. No greeting or enquiry as to my well being. " No Mum, you can make your own soup after we have gone". Betty then said to my husband how sorry she was he had to witness me being rude to her. " No Betty he replied, she is not being rude. It is just that she has a great deal of responsibility. Me, 3 boys, her job and you. You need to do things for yourself. The Dr has confirmed you can do it for yourself". It was wonderful to have someone else challenge Betty and stop me being the baddy!
When we said we would be off shortly Betty expressed surprise. " I thought you might be able to take me out". She had the energy for that then! " No Betty - we are en route to the tip to drop off some electrical waste - jobs to do". She ate the soup and expressed regret that she had a long evening ahead of her. Until the next day then!