Unusually, Patricia’s care is a bit of a family affair. Her primary carer is Rose, and her secondary carer is often Rose’s daughter, Esther.
Tell us about your experiences of live-in care
It’s a big change to get used to but, for us, it was a relatively easy one. I think this is because Mum’s carer, Rose, just gets her – so does the secondary carer who comes in from time to time – Esther. They genuinely feel part of the family now, I feel I can rely on them to look after Mum and make sure she’s happy.
Rose has made a big effort to get to know Mum’s life and what makes her tick. It’s incredible how she’s really become part of the local community, just like Mum. She integrated really well and that comes down to the fact that whatever my mum does, Rose does too. They’re a bit of a dynamic duo together.
What kind of activities do they do together?
My mum is nicknamed the ‘Dancing Diva’ – as soon as she hears music, she dances! They go to a group called Everyone Can Sing and as soon as Mum hears the first notes playing, she’s up dancing. At first Rose was a bit shy, but now they dance together!
They also have concerts and sing together. This is great because it really brings people together – our whole family goes along to watch and Rose’s family do too. When we were looking for a carer, we were looking at the more professional things, you know, ‘is Mum going to be safe?’ and things like that.
We’ve been really pleasantly surprised how a real friendship has flourished. It means Mum has a real companion – someone who knows her really well. It’s lovely to see and makes her so happy.
See the dancing diva in action
How does Rose help support your mum with her dementia?
Rose knows how to get my mum up and out of the house, to keep her motivated – which I think is really good for Mum’s condition. It can sometimes be tricky to get her out of bed but once she’s out, she always really enjoys it.
Mum has a free bus pass, which gives them both a bit of freedom to go on trips together. Rose sends me WhatsApp pictures of their days out – it’s lovely to see what they’re up to, you know, but also really reassuring to see Mum so happy.
Often on their trips, Rose takes Mum back to the town where she used to live. It jogs her memory, helping her connect with her past. She starts telling stories of her time there – usually tales of the places she sang in or played.
What are the important things in your mum’s life?
The biggest thing for mum is her cat, Adele. We adopted her when she was a little cat with no fur, but we nursed her back to heath and she now has a full, black coat. Adele is the focal point of mum’s life – she gives her order, and something to look after. Actually, they look after each other. Emptying the litter tray might not be something everyone wants to do, but Rose has never complained once.
The other things is probably getting out and about. I’ve talked about the trips – but there’s also just getting out in the garden. In the summer, I’ll get a picture of them out there, both eating an ice cream!
What difference has having a carer made to your life?
It just means so much having Rose about. It’s often those small things that you might take for granted before it’s time to get a carer. It just makes it all so much easier knowing Mum is so well looked after. It makes you feel like you can get on with your own life – you know, the day-to-day, paying the mortgage and the rest of it.
Earlier today, I took Mum a mother’s day present, but I couldn’t go in because of the risk of coronavirus. I felt bad as I always make sure I see her. But later on, Rose sent me a video of Mum opening the present and saying thanks.
What’s the best thing about care in the home?
There are so many things about staying at home – what it lets Mum do. She likes to be in control, so Rose lets her do what she still can. She might say ‘it’s your turn to make tea, Patricia’, and then she will help her make it. Mum doesn’t remember how to do everything, but it makes her happy to still be involved.
If Mum had gone into a care home, I don’t think she would be here now. But she’s happy and has a lovely life. And ultimately, if my mum is happy, the rest of the family are happy too.
*Joanne is a customer with Elder.*