January 7th, is my mothers 79th Birthday. I would usually be travelling to see her but was feeling a little under the weather, so had her over for a late dinner on Sunday instead.
However she won’t remember why It’s a special day anyway, unless I remind her & as soon as we part, she will probably forget I was ever with her.
That is Dementia.…
My mum has vascular dementia, from years of smoking, (that’s not just my opinion, that’s what the specialist at London’s biggest hospital told us quite matter of factly). Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of this disease & occurs when blood flow to the brain becomes reduced. Its a progressive illness, it will NOT get better !
My mums ability to remember, understand, communicate and reason has declined at a steady pace over the last 4 years – with some astoundingly severe changes, following infections (Flu & Kidney).
BUT every now & then there are flashes of her prior self – her sparkling personality, her wit, her intelligence (A published author) – which I long to cling too… As I am sure she would too…
Dementia is a cruel illness and one that demands a LOT of care – To try to care for her as the disease took grip, Mum lived with me & my daughters for almost 2 years – it was a struggle to say the least.
When it became too much, she lived in a flat nearby with a live-in carer, but she still managed to leave the oven on, go for midnight wanders in the PJ’s & fall over often.
So after over 18 months of rowing with the local authority, they found an “extra-care” housing facility.
The facility looked absolutely stunning, all shiny & new, with lovely facilities on-site & carers there 24/7 (Not a local authority one, as none were available, but a “HA” one that the local authority contract out to) & over the last 2½ years, the care has been ranging from absolutely great to poor, as has the communication from the Housing Association that owns it (resulting in my mum being in arrears with rent/ food costs, as they just let her portion of outstanding payments pile up & up for 18 months before contacting next of kin – ME).
I have always had an issue with how much this “facility” is costing not only my mum, myself, my sister & the tax payer (almost £700 per week), however this post is not about that. This is about the fact that for many people in these facilities, the watchful eye that is promised is either not there, or worse still, doesn’t see what actually goes on.
After a number of falls & lost glasses / keys / food incidents (yes food) my sister & I decided to install CCTV in her flat. The falls are less now (I can’t explain why) but also, just being able to have a quick peek on her every now & then has really helped with our peace of mind.This is just a cheap, PC World, Wifi enabled CCTV inside her flat & it took some persuading of the “facility” – as they didn’t want it initially.. But I believe it helps. Every now & then Ill call mum on the telephone & she will give me a cute wave on the camera (when she remembers they are there). I personally feel, this should have been a standard part of the property, to safeguard not only mum, but the carers too (my mum can be very vocal when she doesn’t want to take her med’s & if you were listening outside you would believe she was being attacked).
But taking this away from my personal issue – In the last year or so, I have noticed the revelations more about the abuse of patients/tenants in a care homes. The issues can range from deliberate cruelty & wilful neglect to unintentional (but nonetheless appalling) negligence.
There is too little attention paid to the issue of the quality of care, there is too little attention paid to the time limits they get to perform duties (Believe me, I’ve been in the meeting with Elderly services and the carers are tasked to the minute to perform duties such as medication giving, washing, cleaning, preparing food). So when we throw up our hands in horror after reading heartbreaking stories of how callous care workers behave, can we say its just “bad apples” or is this a deeper problem with many roots?Im not saying I have the answers, I do however have some ideas – and one of which is most definitely CCTV in property – This would / should at least address the neglect/abuse part of the many issues.I have connected via a friend on Facebook with Jayne Connery (Big Brother 2016 contestant) & heard about her campaign for CCTV in care homes.
This is not the first such petition. The idea is floated regularly on e-petition sites, with the Government even responding to one recently –
“The Government does not object to the use of CCTV cameras in care homes on a case by case basis.
“Care home owners should consult with and seek the consent of residents and their families on their use.”
Sounds great until you realise that those care homes where there are issues would be those which wouldn’t want to install CCTV regardless of whether the Government say its OK or not!
So lets take away the uncertainty – Jayne Connery is calling for (& MUST GET)
The petition needs 100,000 signatures at least to get it in front of parliament for debate.
Im doing my bit – not only for my wonderful mum, but for everyone who may be in need of protection both now & in the future.
Question – What will you do?
Answer – SIGN THIS!
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