With our Avante care services meeting the challenge to care for older people with Dementia type conditions in our care homes, it’s nice to hear a relative perspective on how good care practice is being delivered at one of our care homes, Bridge Haven in Bridge, a village just outside Canterbury.
“I think everyone who has watched as dementia takes hold will be familiar with the grief, the anxiety and the fear that comes with the dissolution of a loved parent, friend or spouse. Add to that the media reports on abuse in care homes, the stories of people being lost and found wandering or not found until it is too late and it is no wonder that, like me, the distress of caring for my mother was increased by the terror of putting her into a care system which appeared to be anything but caring. For five years, I did everything to keep her at home where I could protect her from herself and from what I thought of as the depredations of ‘care.’
I have lived in Canterbury for more that forty years and knew hundreds of people who sympathised with my situation but regaled me with stories of visits made to relatives. I don’t need to write these stories. If you are involved with residential care, you already know them.
The moment came which I had dreaded. Mother was taken into hospital and clearly, I could not manage any more, even with family support and four-times-a-day-carers. I visited Bridge Haven with my husband, weeping. I know this isn’t unusual, I have seen it so many times when other families visit the home with a view to bringing a parent or a partner. It seems as if you are abandoning someone you cherish, that you are disloyal and hateful and just not trying hard enough.
If only I had known about how wonderful Bridge Haven is, I could have saved myself and my mother a great deal of heartache. She has lived there for nearly five years now and her mental decline has been as steady as it is inevitable. She no longer walks, cannot feed herself and speaks rarely but she is well and I am certain that she is happy. How can I know? I know as surely as I know myself. She loves a little chocolate and her puddings and listening to the old songs and still has a life, all thanks to the love and care she receives from the staff. They talk to her and she smiles (when she is awake, which is not very often!) and they have completely cured the psoriasis she had when she first arrived through daily creaming and careful cleaning.
What astonishes me is their patience and kindness, the way they talk to residents, with respect and as if they really are interested in their welfare; the jokes and the dancing, the staff who buy, out of their own money, little treats or bring in photos or take people to the ‘snug’ for lunch and chat, all to make lives a little happier. An arm round a lady who is sad, a little sit down with someone who is alone; all this adds up to daily acts of kindness that makes Bridge Haven something special.
I never worry about her. That in itself is the most amazing difference that has happened. Now, I have the chance to enjoy my grandchildren and to help with their care. I can do voluntary work and have a real life in retirement which was impossible before. So thank you, everyone at Bridge Haven, the domestic staff and the carers, the cooks and the launderers, the managers and the volunteers, all of you.
Finally, you may read this and find it too emotional. That’s fine, because no one who loves a person with dementia can be anything but emotional-see my first line”.
I would like to thank Pauline for taking the time to put pen to paper and tell how good the care is at Bridge Haven.
Pauline is an active member of the Avante Dementia Advisory Panel.
If you would like to become a member and bring your perspective and ideas to the panel which only meets three times a year then we would love to hear from you.
For more information please contact: Richard Macintyre, Head of Care and Welfare at Avante Partnership on 01795 597400.