Grumpy’s Donation to Science (and cremation)

If you have read my blog or visited my attention to care group on facebook then you will have heard me talk about Grumpy (my Dad). Grumpy died from Alzheimer’s 3rd April 2019 it was a short journey for us from diagnosis to Grumpy dying. Grumpy and my mother had both made arrangements to have their bodies donated to science rather then a large funeral. They had both signed up for donation and we were all informed of this by them both. I was sceptical I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but now I can tell you I could not be prouder or more amazed at the process.

Mum and I spent the 4th APRIL phoning to see if the local body repository could take dad, do remember it’s not as easy as signing a bit of paper.  Once the person has died you need to check which university hospital has room (you are normally signed up to your local one)  or check if the have restrictions (because some will not take people of a certain size or if the died of an infectious disease). Mum called all around the country and eventually Nottingham university hospital (The National Repository Centre, based at City Hospital) agreed to take Grumpy. They organised the transport (there was a cost for us) and then took him on his journey to help within medical research. We had been informed that he could be with them for 2 years and so we were prepared for the wait but we had been reassured that we would be invited to a cremation ceremony.

We decided to do a little get together for family and friends to remember Grumpy which was lovely. However, I think there was still an element of a feeling things have not been completed and I suppose there was an element of when may they call to say they are doing the cremation ceremony. Not that I am saying this is a bad thing but I think you have to be prepared to feel that regarding a loved one and not to hide that feeling (which I believe we did).

After having Grumpy for 5 months mum got the call to say they are ready to have the ceremony and invited us to attend (people had mentioned it would not be personal or that there would be more then one family in the same ceremony). Sadly not everyone could attend but some of us could and I am very grateful that I was able to be there. We had the cremation on 3rd September 2019 at 9:30 at Gedling Crematorium it was the most beautiful setting. 69939097_563219157755524_8512856593509908480_n

We arrived as Grumpy was been taken in and we were able to give the sunflowers and roses we had prepared with all our names on to be with him and my sister Joanna wrote him a note which the lovely funeral director placed on the coffin. It was very emotional but I can honestly say it was so personal, kind, thought provoking and comforting service I have ever been to. There was not an overly formal feeling Bernard the funeral director informed us that him and his team have  been the ones driving Grumpy around to each of the hospitals. He reminded us of what a help grumpy will have been to mankind for selflessly allowing scientific research and young doctors learn from his death. We were able to choose the songs that played as we walked in and while we sat in the room and as we walked out. We were allowed time to go to the coffin and place our hands and say both hello and some of us said our goodbyes. Bernard did a beautiful ceremony and I was able to get up and do a speech about Grumpy. I have to say Nottinghamshire funeral services did us proud. I can not thank them

It was honestly beautiful and I will now be looking into this process myself. I am thankful that we have been lucky enough to have this moment and even though we still have one final trip with Grumpy to the Angel of The North it was a much needed time.

The point to this blog is to just say have a look at donating if you want, I have checked out the site and there is so much that they tell you so you know what will happen. I am so proud for what this service has done and as a family we thank you. We are grateful for what Grumpy stands for.

As I said the other day ‘grumpy was a giant of a man’ he was our grumpy and we will miss him’. We know he is waiting somewhere and we know he is telling us ‘before you come here you must have squeezed every ounce of laughter and joy from your life’.

We will aim to do just that. 69556012_679307149235639_869669833069821952_n

 

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Happiness and Grief

When I smile does is mean I have forgotten you

When I laugh does it mean I’ve moved on

When I cry does it mean I will not stop

When my sadness is painted over my face does it mean people think I am miserable

The moments I forget your gone does it mean I am in denial

Happiness and grief mingle together

The patterns are intertwined

You will be one then the other.

Moments of grief that pounce upon you with no warning

The little reminders of them fleetingly cloud your thoughts

The ball in the face moment reminding you they are gone

Then happiness takes over and you smile

You smile with joy with no tinge of sadness

You laugh from your tummy, loud and free

But then the smile changes as you are reminded of their smile

The emotions are rapid, senseless and varied

But they are what you feel, they are your way of grieving

They will bring you comfort in time and the sadness can be watered down

The grief will be there but the joy of knowing them will give comfort

Happiness and grief go hand in hand but be sure to smile and laugh be sure to remember

How you feel is you and no one can tell you not to feel

Wishing that sometimes We didn’t know what We know!!

Decided that sometimes knowledge of something can make you know too much.

I am sure this sounds like I have possibly lost the plot but I have worked in care for 30 years. Supporting people to develop skills, keep skills and to be cared for through the end of life process.

Some people would think knowing information or knowing what’s to come is a good thing. However, not always as at the moment it isn’t. Knowing the progression within Dementia and knowing the end of life process means, I know what my dad is possibly going to go through. As a trainer in social care I stand each month and teach about dementia awareness which has an impact on me as I am actually talking about what might happen to my dad, over and over (I love my job but it can be hard when going through something).

Knowledge and experience

As my dad progresses through the dementia journey I struggle to get those images out of my head of people I have met, cared for through this incredibly harsh disease. I see the people screaming as they are being cared for and shouting for mum because they have forgot the reality they are in. I see the progress of having to assist the person to eat with a puréed diet because there swallow has been effected. I also see the families broken and frightened of who they now, don’t really know. I see the daughter visiting their mother but she no longer remembers being a mother. I have also been lucky enough to be with people at their end of life and know what it can be like sometimes I wish I did know as I am sure others wish they didn’t know.

My reality at the moment is wishing I didn’t know wishing I was being told by a professional at each stage rather already knowing quite a lot all at once so I know the possible end journey.

Just a family member

We forget that people who work in care or in the caring profession whether a doctor, nurse or care worker that they will have loved ones who may be suffering from a condition. But just because they have the knowledge they are not a doctor, nurse or carer when we are talking about a family member they are just a daughter, son, husband, mother etc. They too will be on the journey and even though they can’t forget what they have learnt or seen they will wish they could for a day so they can be just like everyone else and be the daughter, son etc.

Dementia is a journey for all. Just remember to enjoy the good days and role with the punches on the not so good days. Do what you can and just love each other.

Take care all.

Dad (AKA grumpy) Our families Dementia journey part 2, 3 and maybe 4

Mish Mash of information and most likely not in chronological order. Please bare with me while I try to remember the sequence of events that came once we had diagnosis.

Bloody this diary malarkey (great word) is rather hard I can now see why I never had one, you really have to keep up with it or you end up like me wanting to tell you the journey but getting lost in the events. I have deleted this post a few times.

Recap: doctors visit with mum, first lot of tests completed, referred to ‘Memory team’ (quite apt) went to memory team and had more tests and the wait for the diagnosis commenced.

During this year waiting I was planning my wedding, dad was ill so many times, major infections, mini strokes, terribly bout of D&V which meant he collapsed in a hotel room only with mum to raise the alarm. Each time he had a hospital stay we would explain that he was waiting for a diagnosis. He had some stays in hospital that caused massive distress and upset to all (sometimes due to poor care). He would beg to go home, he would blame mum it was very distressing. There were calls that he may not recover and he just rallied round. We did not know if he would be able to walk me down the aisle (well walk is not the ideal term as dad is in a wheelchair). Levels of confusion fluctuated as the infections had an impact but as always, family and mainly mum just carried on and got on with what had to be done. Just before the wedding Grumpy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the memory team nurse came out and gave them both the news and commenced Grumpy on medication (not a cure). Grumpy made it to the wedding and managed to stay for a little but he was not well.

On the journey home mum said she was so scared has he kept on slumping and all she wanted to do was get him home. He had many more stays in hospital (in and out every few weeks)  and it was exhausting for mum. I have to say I am in awe of my mother she is incredible.3FBD670A-D848-4029-A4E9-9C89D529F51D

Dad was assessed for 3 months by the memory team who came out with the medication each month after the first month they changed the medication and on the third month stopped all medication. They felt the medication side effects outweighed the benefits. By this time dad had really taken to his bed he had stopped really watching TV. He used to love all sport and watch films with mum but he no longer watched (there will be logs of moments of watching TV). He had become obsessed with hankies and a towel that he needed with him at all times, he slept a lot and if he got up he would never stay up long.

After a particular visit to hospital after a major bleed the decision mum came to was to ask for some help from carers just in the morning. We had to make our voices heard each time he stayed in we had compiled a medication list we had written ‘this is me’ we had explained fully all about grumpy and at times some wards were not good in fact there was only one stay which was when he had the bleed that we felt all his need were cared for and mum could have a break.

Its a bit late that I am writing this after 4 days away training. The journey has a long way to go but we know it’s going to have sadness and loss at the end. We have a group that helps and that group that my  mum set up is called Grumpy’s groupies which is not for people of a sensitive nature. It is all women who love grumpy and who have a warped sense of humour but it keeps ups going.

So I will continue and tell you some of our joys that we have had and triumphs but also some difficulties and issues along the way that should not have happened.

Oh an a snippet from Grumpy’s Groupies as you can see it’s really helpful stuff  but it keeps us smiling even when things are overbearingly awful.Next 1Start 2

 

 

 

Blog or not to blog does the swearing and risky blogs get more traffic?

Starting to lose the motivation to blog. 

I don’t seem to have the traffic, or the readers interest in what I have to say and let’s be honest we blog, so people see what we have to say (bit of self-pity). I have been trying to think of what I really want to say, being self-employed and needing to have a positive reputation I hold back a little on what I want to really say. Should I hold back? Will this really affect me gaining more work?

Sometimes I want to shout out about the amazing work Carers do, I want to also scream when there are diabolical care stories of abuse to people because of others. I don’t want to be all diplomatic. I want to say it how it is, I want to say care is bloody hard. It’s not a ‘fits all job’. I want to say you will get stressed and you will go through the saddest of times in your role and you will cry, scream, laugh and just hold your breath.

However, I want you to know I have stayed within Care industry for 30 years and I would not swap it for another industry. There is so much I could swear about, and I want to. I want you to know how passionate about care I really am. I want you to know how much I am desperate to value care and carers – both paid and unpaid. When I think about the stuff I want to say it fills me with frustration that I hold back.

More things I want to say are:

Hey, you lot in the government get a grip, wake up. Social care needs you to take it seriously. We may not be the NHS, but we do a bloody hard job and work as hard as the NHS staff. We need more visibility that is what is missing.

Other parties hope to get our votes, but you don’t seem to want to get it right. Don’t promise us the world when it cannot be given, don’t lie to get our vote, don’t say you can if you can’t. Talk to us on the front line, talk to those who do the most intimate care for the most vulnerable people within society.

You out there – the one who thinks think you can treat people badly, stop it right now stop being cruel, unkind. Stop abusing our most vulnerable. Stop what you’re doing right now and think. Think about that being someone you care about. If you can’t then go work elsewhere – do not work in care and do not think we will put up with your practice.

Inspectors – look beyond the chatter that some companies front with, the chatter that keeps you from looking at what is really going on. Take notice of the concerns and make sure you start asking the right questions. Know that sometimes you get it wrong and we know that, but please do not constantly get it wrong.

On a personal note just for the care workers who are supposed to support my Dad, take of your coat, do not talk to your colleague over my dad, do not moan about your company and do not forget to put your gloves and aprons on. Think about what my dad needs and wants. Do not think about your next call and the lack of time to get to it – that is not my Dad’s fault. You have lost my respect and I am disappointed that you are called carers. Don’t bother coming to work if you cannot provide good care and support.

However, the poor care both in hospital and at home my Dad has had doesn’t mean I am turning my back on promoting care. I still value all the other people within care that do an amazing job. So finally thank you to all you that do a GOOD  job who do give up their time and sometimes time that is unpaid.

Just a quick blog Dementia related

Important part of being a trainer is to keep your self up to date, refreshed and competent in what you train so at the moment I am doing a free course within Dementia. Its not advanced training its getting back to the basics and updating on my understanding. As part of the course there I have just watch a video from Terry Pratchett. He was talking about the difference in getting a diagnosis of cancer compared to dementia (both horrid). He made a point that people when diagnosis with cancer with be given hope or feel there is still hope but for someone diagnoses with Dementia there is no hope of recovery (at this point in time) and therefore he felt he was very alone with his diagnosis as everyone knows hope isn’t something that comes into it.

However, he still wrote best sellers and was focused on  living well with Dementia. 

I am enjoying the course it is simple and when I finish I will gain a certificate and I am already feeling I am being reminded of things to consider but also how important it is to not have one size fits all approach. Its something I teach a little of but I am now going to ensure it plays a bigger part in my training.

The course I am doing is from the university of Tasmania I have shared previously on my FB page. This is not a recommendation as for some it will not fit their learning style but hey check it out. Free learning is important and CPD can only support you with what ever you do in life. You don’t even have to be working in care, or medical field to do this course. Knowing about Dementia is important for all.

Check the links out you may find them helpful

 

I have been quiet!

Me and Mental Wellbeing

Sometimes you just gets carried away and you forget to take a moment to just stop and do something as simple as sitting in the garden. At present I am working mainly doing  “in house training”. On the plus side it is work (which if fantastic) on the flip side it does mean long days and quite a bit of additional travelling, which means I’ve not had time to stop, think and contemplate.  Even on my trip to Brugge texts and calls were coming into my mobile and I was thinking abut work; which was not ideal

Currently, I have a number of new blog ideas and will try to get these down and posted soon. However, for now I am sat here in the garden preparing for next week, compiling a powerpoint for Mental Health Awareness training. Which has got me thinking  and I decided to stop for a moment and blog.

Today while looking on information and refreshing my knowledge on Mental Health I was able to think of my own Mental Wellbeing (its not something I talk about a lot  or even try to think about to much).

Like many people, I can say that periods of my life has challenged my mental wellbeing. While researching the prevalence of mental health I realised that more people develop mental health issues at a younger age.  The amount of young people that suffer anxiety and depression is quite worrying. However, when I think back I realise that I suffered anxiety as a youngster, its just that the name was not used or the awareness of Mental Health was not what it is now.

Mental Health unfortunately did follow me into adulthood and its only now I admit what it is, I used to just ignore it and would never ever admit to labelling how I was feeling (not sure why but a hidden illness comes to mind). Some of how I felt was about loss of control and fear of what might happen to my family or friends and then it would build so I would feel anxious.

I am lucky I have a supportive husband who has admitted that he is still learning about Mental Health, and initially did not understand why I react to the simplest of issues in the way I did, and seemly blow them out of all proportion. Now though, he does and he helps me to structure things and take control which has helped. This has allowed me to manage my mental wellbeing to a degree .

I now recognise and am more aware of times in my life, when my Mental Well being has been challenged and I am trying to be more open and honest about my feeling and not hiding them away for fear of judgement and what might happen.(Work in progress)

Things that have helped;IMG_0230.JPG

  • Taking control of my financial situation (thanks to my husband) as now I am not as afraid about money as I used to be.
  • Autonomy within my career which has allowed me control (well some control).
  • Trying to open up a little more to my husband.
  • Being aware that I am not in a good place and trying to not ignore.
  • Trying to organise my life a little more.
  • Enjoying simple things in life.
  • Sitting in the garden and just focussing on whats important.

Don’t get me wrong this is not a quick fix , but it has helped me greatly and given me peace of mind. I am hopeful that as time goes on things will continue to progress and I will continue to work on myself. IMG_0250.JPG

I sit here now and feel good and feel happy I can take moments like this (yes I am working but working outside has a different feeling). I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am suffering I am not I am just sharing which I think is a massive step. Hiding is not the answer, feeling embarrassed is not a feeling we should feel, being scared to admit how we feel today is not allowing us to heal.

So today I am good but hey tomorrow it might be different. However, as I say make the most of the good days and feel alive as life will still be there and will still need you to breath. Just stop take a moment, look at the simple things like our cat Kobe needing attention from the most caring man I know.

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Don’t forget to take pleasure in the simplest of things because that will give you joy and joy is the greatest defence against feeling low. Stay safe, speak up and do not hide away.

 

Maxine

Memories and the making of them

So you all know about my Dad AKA Grumpy, well he continues to go through the journey that is Alzheimer’s and the progress within this cruel and unforgiving disease (yes a disease not a normal part of ageing). So as a family we are now realising the importance of making memories and today was one of the days that my niece managed to make one and video the evidence for us.  She captured her daughter and us all a memory that previously his grandchildren have and now great grandchildren may still have time to make. So it was great to see a video of Dad with his great granddaughter stood on his wheelchair has he drives it into the house. He actually looked like he used to be and do you know what it made me think we need to grab those memories and just store them to share with those that come after us or are to young to remember. So log it and keep it, enjoy looking back, value who your person is and don’t just see the condition. Remember they are who they were just a little buried under all the chaos that is Alzheimer’s. Its a short blog today but honestly it is so important to remember and save those moments and love them. Just take a moment and sit back and remember the person in front of you. SEE THEM!30922044_10157320885744622_2107416334_o

Attention to Care the Aim

Morning everyone, another week in the life of Attention to Care.  After posting about recruitment and retention of staff within care I decided to just write a little more about Attention to Care and what my aim is.

Attention to care as I mentioned in previous post is my own company which is not LTD at this point in time I am just a sole trader. I set it up as I lost a little faith in being employed by others. I felt I lacked control in my life and I was losing who I was, which then meant I lost a little of what I was aiming to achieve. Care has been my life since I was 16 I went to college and did a qualification called Preliminary Certificate in Social Care. It was a good course that then gained me a job within Cambridgeshire Mencap where I worked on and off for 23 years. I then as previously explained went on to Assessing and training. I felt the needed to try and give others the opportunity to learn and develop to then progress. (sorry digressing)

I worked for a number of years with 2 large training providers and learnt a lot but also learnt that there is a push for bums on seats not on quality. Sadly this is true and the fact that we talk about individual learning as far as my experience was there was not individual learning just generic. I ended up having a full break for 6 months and then went to a college (not the best decision) realising that it was really not for me I need a new challenge so luckily I kept in touch with a colleague (friend) and he got me some freelance work as an assessor. 2 years later still dabble in assessing have now about 9 learners. However, my main goal is to build the training in house at care companies which I am loving. I can show my passion and be honest with people about care and all its wonderful colours and sounds.

Attention to Care was set up last year and the aim of Attention to Care is to train in care companies but also to use Facebook to promote care in general. To give care a face, a visibility, a value. I do not wear rose coloured spectacles I know the reality within care and know when things go wrong they can go gravely wrong. However, I know how great care can be across all companies. I can meet people who are amazing, who value people who promote fully the 6 C’s (care, compassion, commitment, courage, communication and competency) people that wants to make some difference whether that is leaving a person with a smile after they have supported them or supported someone to be independent.

So if we commence sharing the good stories and valuing the care staff and management then I am sure we can commencing fixing a system that seems a little broken at the moment. If I can be part of that fix then the aim of Attention to Care will have been fulfilled. Its not a lot to ask that we look at care and what people do on a daily basis to support our most vulnerable in society. If we look at the value it has for those that are being cared for then we can see how vital it is to do something to make it what it needs to be. Care needs to have a value, it needs to be about a career choice it needs to be a first choice in options for our children (not a throw away subject).

So the more I spout off , communicate and just generally speak up then hopefully someone will read and help me with the aim then share and like. That’s the aim to show care as something worthwhile.

So if like a soap box, bandwagon or just generally like sound of own voice (Like me) then please read, like, comment and share. Join a community to value care.

 

Brainstorming can I do Alone? (just a quickie)

Brainstorming? Does it work?

Process for generating creative ideas and solutions through intensive discussion and processing information that is within your mind. Normally group participation but the question is can you then not do brainstorming alone?

Well I am Attention to Care at the moment it is just me and its my business that I am nurturing and trying to grow so its down to me and my mind to brainstorm. So I have been brainstorming (well that’s what I am calling it) I have encouraged myself to think aloud and suggest as many ideas as possible, no matter seemingly how outlandish or bizarre. Don’t get me wrong as I am doing alone there would be no challenges and disagreements but there is in my own thoughts. I am using the sticky note method laid on my mini desk just words and ideas including things to do. As you can see there are many things that need to be thought about. It got me thinking doing this and how others may generate their ideas if they are the business if it is just you.


Attention to Care is a business to train care staff at all levels and its about ensuring I meet the needs of each service in a unique way but what I need to do is get the name out there hence my brainstorming session all alone.

So to clarify this blog today is to try to find out what people do when they are in business alone to generate and analyse their ideas. Also, is Brainstorming only good as a group. Come on and tell me what you do please, I need inspiration and need to know how to get the ideas out and in a way that can be monitored.