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Respite care 2 - or never judge a book by its cover

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Topics: 
care services and care homes, carers, respite care

Whilst on my quest for seeking nursing homes which would offer both respite care, and an acceptable standard of care, I visited a place which I will call the Lawns, though it is nothing like that.

The Lawns was housed in a large dwelling of a previous era, a splendid architectural example of faded grandeur. Once inside, I felt overwhelmingly sad. The majestic oak doors, the high skirtings, the dados, mouldings and period fireplaces, were covered in generations of gloss paint, which was chipped, peeling and flaking.

The very friendly manager, wife of the owner, showed me into her office, and then proceeded to shift piles of paper work from a chair, so that I could sit down, The floor seemed to be the main filing cabinet. There was no room for my knees under the desk at which my chair was placed , as the knee hole was filled with nappies (clean), old shoes, a broken umbrella, and yet more files and papers.

I could only stare. It was truly chaotic, and I wondered how on earth she ever managed to locate any records or information. She didn't need to. After we had talked for a few minutes she exclaimed, Oh! You must be Sally, the lady who rang me 3 weeks ago. Oh!  I am so glad you have been able to come.

When she showed me round, I could hardly hide my horror, or suppress my giggles. It was Hitchcock Horror curtains versus nightmare inspired carpets, with Aztec styled duvet covers to boot. The plastic flowers which adorned every windowsill or other available surface were so garish that you had to shield your eyes. They were in colours which God had never known  about when he created the universe.

I went home, regretting a wasted afternoon, but knowing at least that I could tick it off my list.

The light bulb moment came hours later. I told myself to forget the paint, forget the chaos, forget the flowers, and to ask myself “what was your overriding feeling, Sally, when you were in there?”

Well, welcome, warmth, kindness, an ethos of caring, of treating the residents like people.............all good things, really.

Thank goodness I came to my senses, and saw through the shabbiness and tacky décor. My gut feeling was right. My husband stayed there for a week, Neither he, or I, or friends who visited him, could have been happier with the way he was loved, cherished and looked after. It just goes to show! Try to ignore the cover. Look (and feel) deeper.

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