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

 

 

 

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Care/Career

Blogging does not seem to come overly natural to me but I still want to promote care and promote discussion/debate. I feel the need to ensure people realise that care work is valued and should be a chosen career .

In the about me I talk about my career within the care field but I feel my caring commenced long before I got a job in care. I was always looking for someone to look after even as a child. It was who I was, I remember being asked at 14 in school about what I wished to do when ‘I grow up’ (not sure I have grown up yet). My response even then was not met with encouragement as I said I want to be a social worker or a probation officer (none of which I am ). Thing is I was not overly academic as you may notice with my poor grammar (apologies). So I wasn’t encouraged I don’t believe.

However when it came to work experience I was sent to the care home next door to where I lived.  I can still remember my first day as a 15 year old going in to the home, I remember even then the home had an odour that should have been dealt with, there was not as many safety protocols in place and inspections that there are now (or maybe there was but just not followed). I was asked during this work experience to support someone to the toilet, it was a man who was around 80 I  was left to take him to the toilet on my own. I was terrified but I knew instinctively that I could not allow him to feel he was a burden and that I was nervous.  I knew I had to pretend it was OK, I got on with it and can still remember the first sight of a man naked from waste down. However, it didn’t stop me from deciding to do some kind of care work. What it did make me realise is that I would never do what this home did, I would never leave someone inexperienced, untrained to do such intimate support.

Care I think was a natural career for me to choose, I liked listening and giving advice to people I met who were going through difficult times, I liked babysitting, I enjoyed just helping I felt I was achieving something each time I was able to help.

Once I completed school I went to college, I was interviewed for the course ‘Preliminary Certificate in Social Care’ the tutor a glamorous lady asked me what I wanted to do and at that moment I said ‘until I do the course I don’t think I fully know’. Mum had come with me and she said to my mum ‘that was one of the most grown up answers I’ve heard’.

I went through 2 years at college (interesting time) completed GCSE and gained some good grades. I knew then I still wanted to try to become a social carer. I applied for a number of jobs in all different areas (none of them near home). I eventually got a job at a company in Cambridge working with people with Learning difficulties. It was the first step in a career that now spans 30 years. Care is a career it really is and its worth doing.

My career in care has been interesting, colourful, noisy, hard, scary, sad but mainly has been my choice it has been my passion. I want more people to know that it’s one of the best but hardest jobs you can do. It’s not valued like it should be and certainly the pay is not the best but its a career it really is. I would still choose this career all over again.

My journey to where I am now:

Support worker

Senior support worker

Deputy manager

Registered Manager

Trainer Assessor

Regional Manager of Training provider

To Self Employed in House Trainer (this was my goal and I have been lucky to achieve). 

So I will continue to try and blog about care, my family, my dad (AKA Grumpy). I will continue to highlight the good that is out there within care. I will also share when there is not so good care but will hopefully remind people that we can make it good.

Its a quick blog today to try to get myself back to it. I had 5 draft blogs that I have deleted that never came to the page. I now have added 2 more drafts but luckily today I have at least published one. If you are reading this please comment, share, add what you believe care means to you. Most of all if your reading this and you are thinking of a career and have the attributes to be part of care then feel free to check out some of the links.

 

Pull up a chair and lets talk

I’m sat here on a bank holiday weekend feeling somewhat sorry for myself (have a bad back). I have gone through social media seen the usual posts that raise my blood pressure and seen the posts that make me smile and make me thoughtful. I have cleaned (a little), moaned at my husband (waiting to moan at the 14 year child who still sleeps). I have thought about doing some work (but I should be allowed a day off even if I am self employed). I have gone back to reading (Where Memories Go) and as I was reading it got me thinking (this would worry my husband as me thinking causes stress).

It got me thinking of when I thought I would write a book, I did commence ‘Pull up a Chair’ but can’t find it anywhere (feel sad about that). I am asking myself today if I should try and start again? Some of you will know ‘pull up a chair’ was a title my friend Valerie used to say and that it would be a no holes barred self help book but it would be blunt and no ‘oh woe be me’ type of self help. I adapted it to more of a about my life book which would obviously have Valerie within it. Over the past year things have changed in our family but I now question do I scrap it fully or do I try something new. I am not the most articulate in writing so not sure I could actually write a book.

However, today has me thinking as I sit here feeling sorry for myself. Valerie would not be happy she would give me a course in ‘get the f@ck over it’.

Blogging has become less of late I don’t really know how to make myself more visible. I still want to blog about care but not sure its the most fashionable subject or glamorous. However, I will keep trying.

Happy Sunday All and if feeling sorry for yourself then ‘Pull up a Chair’ and talk. cropped-etchings-and-roses-ivory-wallpaper_yellow-chair1.jpg

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.

 

Colour and sounds of working in care Part 2

Part 2

I could go on and on about being a care worker, which I was for 20+ years I could use lots of  language that may upset my potential customers. So, I am going to try not to swear to much but apologies if one drops in now again.

Care is still what drives me to do what I do. I hope to ensure who I meet will be great at supporting people who are classed as vulnerable and require care. We should share our experiences it’s an amazing but bloody hard job. It’s not valued as much as it should be, and it needs to be. I hear so often about poor staff retention and not being able to fill positions there has to be a reason for this and its time to do some work on finding out why.

I was a young 18-year-old when I first moved to Cambridge on my own for a job in social care. It was my ambition to work in care from when I was 14 and so I went to college for 2 years and then got my first care job in Cambridge. I remember the interview and there were quite a few candidates but was so pleased when I go the job. I moved from home on my own and started my career in care. Part one tells you about my experiences of the first day.

I loved it even though it was so time consuming. I found myself just going in and getting on with empowering the people I supported. I would ensure they knew I was there to support and enable at times with some interesting and noisy outcomes. I wouldn’t say it was all fun there were moment when I was younger where I struggled with my own ability to speak up and stand up for people.

I made a choice at 20 to have children and left the company for 5 years going back a very different person. I had grown as an individual and seemed more able to speak up and I did which meant I was able to be brave enough to speak up about a poor manager. That changed the lives of the people I was supporting in such a positive way but had a positive effect on me also.

I have had the honour of supporting people who have learning disabilities to develop and achieve independence as many levels and I value my input and the input that the people have had that I worked with over the years. I was lucky enough to work for a company that had many supported living homes on one site within a small village. we were a tight knit team and would ensure that there was full social inclusion both between the support living homes and the local community.

The growth in the people I supported is what drove me to continue and to then go onto become a Senior to deputy manager to a registered manager. I saw every level as a step to my ambition of being a manager that could make a difference. I had an amazing team of young and older people who were committed to providing a support service that was focused on people being a valued member of the community. We did that, we did somethings that were new and never achieved before. We sometimes think we can support people to the end of life, but this is not always the case, if someone reaches 65 and still in supported living at one point they would have been transferred to the ‘older persons team and potentially moved to an elderly residential home. Which was not in my opinion the best option. So, we worked hard to ensure the people we supported had a home for life. I had a great team to work with. We changed the registration and ensured we had the staffing levels and equipment to ensure we could meet the needs. So, we did it we ensure that if someone was unwell and at end of life we enabled them to stay and die in their own home.  I have to say that being with the persons family and support them was very valuable. I was able to see someone be settled with loved ones around them. I remember on person we supported and being with the family after he died and the family saying ‘mother always said he would be a tall man in death’ the person we supported had scoleosis but when he died his family found comfort in seeing him that way.  It was one of my best achievements in my career and will always stay with me.

All these journeys that we go through are as important as each other.  (think I might be waffling). As carers/trainers/managers etc we have an impact in all we do so for those days that are hard look back and remember the good ones.

So now that I am training I use all the experience I have had. All the noises and colours of living to ensure the training is interesting and honest. Training for me is about reality of life and living well with the support of people who want to enable you.

Simple.

January is Over

Well what has January done for us lately? Well, business was good and looks like its taking us into February positively.

However, Grumpy saga’s still continue (reminder grumpy is my father) he has had 3 admissions to the hospital and another 3 discharge letters that are unhelpful, not clear and sadly the last one not factual. How is it someone goes into hospital for one thing and comes out with something else and really not seeming any better well in fact potentially worse? With the discharge letter leaving out vital information for the GP.

This time for my mother the experiene was distressing with a Doctor shouting at her and a Nurse (head nurse I believe) being rude, snappy and unhelful to my mother unless oddly if others were there. With the lack of understanding within Dementia and the need for my mother to be there to help so as my father does not get distressed. I don’t understand this and I clearly did not see any understanding of his needs both physically and emotionally.  What fustrates me is we have completed a THIS IS ME write up to tell them about how he is, his history, his needs, his capabilities but I am not even sure they bothered reading it.

Of course on looking at the CQC report I am not surprised the hospital is inadequate and the fact that it took me to tell them to place a fluid chart in place before they did.

So why am I writing this and not naming and shaming well thats because my mother would not like that as she is very much appreciative of the NHS and of the hard work some do but also there is no point as it seems not even CQC have responded to a complaint  I put in. I am therefore writing it for me. I am writing to just show that we need to try to speak up get a voice and say no to poor practice, poor empathy from people who should know better. I am writing because I want to know when Grumpy has to go back in that I know he is having the best care they can possibly give and that they consider my mother and emotional wellbeing.
What this hospital lack or at least now 2 of the 3 wards my father was on are the 6c’s which are:

Care

Compassion

Competence

Courage

Communication

Comittment 

These a key principles not hard, nothing you need to be taught really, things that we should expect and things I remind people of when I do in house training.

So where are we now with grumpy, well he is home. mother is managing and is doing as always and amazing job. Best put that she would do better if the council came and got a bed that has been stood in her garden for nearly 2 months. 

Mother his helped by some (what should I call?)  gentle jibes through the facebook group Grumpy’s groupies. It have got worse by the way with the content to bad that I can not screenshot much of it. This group continues to do its job of light relief and offloading. Its important to know when you need to be serious and when you can just show how nuts you are as that is what this group is about. ‘Its not all about Grumpy’. It has to be about our mum, our grandma it has to be to ensure she is kept up beat in times of adversity.

So bravely I share some of the content.

As you can see its so wrong but for my mother it is so right its her place and she gains so much as do we. Try it. Caring is hard butcan be made easier with the right support and right dose of nuttiness.

 

Hey feel free to share you groups. Smiling and laughing is important. Take care of each other, speak up and be the persons voice and know your rights.

Book time

Been thinking about this for a while and as some of you may know Pull up a chair and lets talk care comes from an ambition of mine to write a book inspired by my beautiful friend Valerie who died just over 12 year ago. I did do some initial writing for the book but then found it to be not the right time.

However, in bed last night I was thinking about my Mother and Father (grumpy) and how things have been rather hectic, challenging, upsetting and just exhausting for all. My thoughts led to me think of how our family and the young children and how we are all going to be seeing Grumpy change and how this maybe distressing at times.

So firstly I thought as an adult I will be able to research and look up what the process maybe for some with Dementia but the chidren may need something more simple and real to allow them to digest the changes in a different way. There are lots of books out their for children but I want it to be personal for them. So, I have actually commenced writing a potential children’s book. I know where did that come from?

I sat on my phone in the notes section and commenced thinking of what I would want them to know and how to place a positive on the changes.

So all just watch this space this may be something I just do for my family. My daughter Lauren is also going to be part of the writing process (she is so much more articulate in her words and also she is a great proof reader).

Hey what is there to lose apart from time of course but I have that so ideal time to have a go.

Be ready and I hope that I do it. I will keep you updated.

 

“OUR MOTHER, GRANDMOTHER”

3FBD670A-D848-4029-A4E9-9C89D529F51DIf people have read some of my blogs in recent times you will know my Mother is the carer for my father who has many health conditions including a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Last night at 9pm he showed signs of being unwell and needed some medical attention. My mother is 70 years old and she wakes every day at 5:30am – sometimes even after not having a good night sleep. Since the diagnosis, dad can get unsettled and have some obsessions.

After making the first call at 9am it took until 2am for medical attention to arrive at their home (not a complaint as it was a busy night for the services), so by time dad was taken in and settled they did not leave the hospital until 6am. As you’ve probably realised, this is over 24 hours since my mother woke up – over 24 hours without sleep, for a 70 year old. She never once complained once though, she just got on with it and took it all in her stride – because that’s who she is.

My mother (who at this point had my sister, Joanna with her) had been awake over 24 hours. So as I write this I am hoping she is sleeping and hope that my dad is being looked after well by any nurses or doctors. We have as usual all come together to support and make sure she has someone with her and we are thankful for the family we have.

My mother will wake and just continue.

She is a carer, but, ultimately, she is a wife who loves her husband and who wants him to be safe, well and have a meaningful life – a meaningful life with her. So she finds the strength to carry on being the best carer that she is, every single day.

So, from all us groupies and all the others in our mad, slightly odd and special family, we appreciate you and what you do mum. We love you and thank you for showing us what love is and how we should care and love through adversity.

I would personally like to thank Joanna for staying with you and making sure you drove ok (terrible back seat driver).

So today, anyone out there who is a carer of a loved one, know that we are grateful, we value your courage and strength. We know you won’t ask for help but know the help is there. Know that we see your tiredness and hear your weariness. We know its bloody hard, it’s frustrating and sometimes it’s like being in a nightmare. We know you do this because you love and you feel you must to do what is best for yur family – you need to know your loved one is safe and cared for after all.

You do what you do so well that we are all in awe of you. We all hope that we will grow in our own strength. We know you are the role model. If we could, we would bottle who you are, so we could share it around to all who are vulnerable so everyone gets equal quality care. You are who should be training our carers of today, you are the training material we need. YOU ARE THE REALITY OF CARE AND CARING.

Grumpies Groupies (WHY OH WHY)

The name of a small family group which was set up to chat and keep each other informed regarding my father (AKA GRUMPY). My mother set up the group (she has become a great user of facebook sometimes embarrassingly) she though it would be good to be able to let us know to be aware when she needs a nap in the day and so the idea was to post things like bad night so phone silence. Or grumpy not great today, etc etc. So all about gumpy.

Well interestingly its sort of turned into a group of women discussing life, issue, concerns, comfort, love and honestly. Well sort of but in reality its got gossip, good news stories, current affairs, just basic bitching and offloading of being a parent at times for some. I should say but if of the sensitive nature you maybe offended with some of the language and discussions I am going to share with you.

Oh with some of the members they have learnt how to add GIF’s and the joy of that can be that a whole evening communication is just through the art of GIPH’s its a GIPH OFF.

 

So as the start:

So all in all not a bad start within a group know check how Grumpy is and check how Mum/Grandma is dealing with things and if we can be of morale support.

However, here is the opposite to what the start was:

Now I know the language and content is terrible and I can only appologies, I will be sharing more and they will make your hair curl but do you know what this is my mothers life line.

We were able to respond at the weekend quickly when mum posted a video on how Grumpy was so confused and unwell it meant that she got people round to help quickly and to support her to call for assistance and get medical attention for Grumpy.  So here is how it helps:

No Grumpy is home with a camera in his bedroom for mum to keep and eye on him. We managed to keep everyone informed and it worked.

So I will share more insights at a later date, but on a serious note, remember to check on each other support the person who has to support their loved one 24/7. Remember they need to be able to laugh through the hard times and realise life goes on even when thing are hard. Everyone one needs to be given a laugh and at the moment the Grumpy’s groupies are full on with the messages today to the point I am struggling to get my work done.

So enjoy the snippets as I say there are more and here are the ones from today:

My family support group we look after each other. Sort of

What’s next, What can I do?

Today I am sat at home, waiting  to do some one to one session with learners (working from home), had appointments booked in but sadly not one completed at the moment and its gone 12:00 (tick tock). However, I have had an interesting call about a new idea for a support site and I am now questioning what I want to do next.

Don’t get me wrong assessing in general is a good job and it fits with my life but like today, I have not had a session completed, sadly people not picking up the phone, no work to mark so in some sense it becomes hard to ensure someone’s learning journey is consistent and meaningful. Commitment sometimes is lacking or schedules change in care and people just don’t let me know.

So I am now sat here thinking (cogs turning, head full).

My ultimate goal was to go into more training, motivational sessions to get people to buy into the care and how to be the best. I wanted to get a community talking about care but not sure how.

I see the best but some times not the so good (poor practice and care). I set up my Facebook page and this blog to try to get a community talking and sharing their stories but to be honest its not working. Have less then 100 likes on FB page which if you consider the amount of people in care that’s just nothing. Followers on word-press I have 21. Is this because I don’t use profanities, I do a blow by blow log of my day, is it because people just don’t talk about care or is it people in care just don’t have the time.

So where am I going wrong? What do I need to do?  Where do I go from here?

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