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care services and care homes, carers

When I first embarked on my role of carer, any help I had with WB's care was that which I bought from various care agencies, because that was the only way I knew.

In all, I got through about half a dozen agencies, and heaven knows how many carers, because you are lucky to see the same face twice.

Some were good, some mediocre, some bad, and a few were downright dangerous. The common shortcomings of the agencies were:

Unreliability, an agreed and expected 9.30 start could mean anything from 8 a.m till 11.00, depending on rotas, demand, absenteeism and other factors.

Lack of continuity, with a different face every day,Wriggly Bum had no chance of building up a relationship.

Suitability, e.g. one chap had a serious personal hygiene problem, another suffered from manic depression, a young girl had a very limited command of English, and was too shy and nervous to even give eye contact.

Inadequate training, WB was once dropped by a chap who had been with the agency for just 5 days, and whose tasks hitherto had been domestic. This was all too common. For many, dealing with WB was the first time they had undertaken personal care. Handling and use of hoist training usually turned out to mean they had watched a video.

Cost, out of all proportion to the shameful hourly rate they were paying their staff, and it also irritated me that the endless paper work which had to be filled in at the end of each visit was done in the time for which I was paying.

I could go on, enough to fill a book. Suffice it to say that, to put it politely, care agencies did not satisfy my demands.

I therefore decided to “grow my own”. If only I had done this right from the start!  I would urge anyone to be brave enough to do this. Even if they have no previous experience as an employer, I am sure that help could be forthcoming with drafting advertisements, doing interviews, taking up references etc. (If push came to shove, I would willingly offer help/advice).

As I was saying, employing my own carer(s) has been, for me, an unqualified success, and I am now so relaxed.

Previously, I always felt tense, uncomfortable, even resentful, of strangers invading my home, taking over my role, damaging my home (it happens) and all to often of having to tidy up and mop up (literally) after them as they rushed off to their next assignment.

Now, I have carers whoseem like part of the family, and are just as welcome. I pay them an hourly rate that a care agency worker would bite your hand off for, and yet I am still in pocket. It really is a win win situation.

One of my two carers is on a prolonged trip to attendto a family matter on another continent, so I must not discuss her without her permission.

The other, a delightful, cheerful, competent lady, who could not love WB more if he were her own father, is battling on alone, and putting in extra time, without a murmur.

She is the brightest star in my firmament, her name begins with M, and so I will refer to her as My Megawatt Maggie. An absolute nugget. My only dread is losing her.

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Safety and autonomy when capacity is compromised.  My mum has dementia.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year although she had been deteriorating for a while prior to that. 

Karen Harrison Dening

Unpaid carers are still the mainstay of support for people with dementia in the UK.

Anne de Gruchy

Dementia Caring with Love. Here, for your perusal, is another set of ‘Tentative Tips’. As I said in Part One, please do take them for what they are – ideas shared in the hope they might prove useful to others as they have proved useful to me and other carers I have talked to.