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Monday, 16 May 2016

Father's New Home – An Atrocious Day, Saved By A Golden Angel!

I was shattered when I woke up this morning and really wished that I had sensibly booked the entire day off work. I was scheduled to finish work at 12.15pm. I went to work, but broke down completely when talking to colleagues about the weekend and the awful news I received about someone else. Both Gemma, Cilla and Emily were very sweet and supportive and I was nicely ordered to return home and go back to bed! Felt really bad leaving, but they were right, I was in no fit state to carry out my job, so now taking the whole day as holiday. I returned home and was in bed by 9.10am! Collapsed and dozed, but didn't really sleep properly, but it did me good. Got up, dressed again etc and was determined that I wasn't going to get emotional any more today – I needed to be strong and supportive to my parents today.

Arrived at my parents at 12.30pm. Father had just finished his lunch and was sitting in his usual armchair. I think he guessed that my arrival mean't he would be leaving soon – he became very emotional with uncontrollable sobbing and was getting cross as well and said he wouldn't be leaving his home and 'I don't want to go to Heacham' etc etc. Who can blame him for reacting that way, why should he have to leave his home for so many years! He obviously feels like he was being forced out and in a way, he is. But as I have said before, my Mother can't go on any longer, she has gone way beyond the call of duty. She is the strongest woman I have ever known – there are few 76 year olds that could have done that job for so long. Anyway, I didn't get that upset and just tried to soothe things – Mother however did get very upset and left the room. Father calmed down and I kept him quiet. Now, I knew that when the community transport turned up, there was no way anyone would get him into the wheelchair, so I had be extremely sneaky and crafty and somehow get him into the wheelchair before they arrived! I achieved this and gave myself a gold star! A bit later on he requested to use the commode and whilst on there, I told him I had to move his chair to clear some things up underneath – I took the chair into the dining room and replaced it with his wheelchair. Father was then transferred from the commode to what he thought was his usual armchair. 'Is your chair comfortable' I asked.... 'yes' he said – mission accomplished! He had no idea that his chair now had wheels!!!

The transport was booked at 2pm – I know that community transport is famously not punctual, so didn't get too stressed when the wheelchair taxi didn't turn up, but at 2.40pm I phoned Social Services (who had booked this transport) to ask what had happened. The lady I spoke to said she would phone them and then get back to me. I received a phone call to say the community transport was a long way behind schedule and they now had to do the school run and they would be there about 4pm!!! Now I was stressed and angry (don't get me angry!!!). 'So' I said 'school children were being put before my 89 year father who is now uncomfortable in his wheelchair and increasingly distressed..... I have taken the day off work, which I needn't have done...... this is making him and my family very stressed.... two hours later is out of order and also I could have taken all father's belongings and clothes over to the home earlier to unpack to save me time later!!!' The lady from social services apologised but there was nothing else she could do.  It was now 3pm. I phoned Nigel Playford, the Manager at Summerville House Care Home to let him know we would be much later than he had expected. Nigel said that if community transport said 4pm it could be 5, 6 or 7pm!!!

Mother and I decided that it would be better for me to take all Father's belongings to the care home now and leave them in his room and then return to be back for 4pm, so off I went. Delivered things to care home and was very kindly helped by Bibin and Nigel who were very kind and supportive. I was just about to leave the care home, when I received a phone call from Mother to say the transport had turned up with one lady!!! This lady refused to get Father out of the property..... quote 'she couldn't get him out of the property and wouldn't be allowed to lift the wheelchair and she was about to leave the property! My temper was a 10 out of 10 and beyond at this point. Nigel, very very kindly said he would come back to my parents with me to assist, so off we went in my car. On route I phoned (hands free) and asked Mother to put the transport lady on the phone, so I could speak to her, which I did and she repeated the same as she had said to Mother. I explained that I was only 10 minutes away, but unbelievably she said she might not be able to wait!!! Shortly after this, my mother phoned me to say the lady (did I say 'lady'!) had bloody well left!!! I WAS FUMING!

Nigel and I arrived at the house to very distressed parents. I immediately phoned social services and told them what had happened and asked why the hell did they sent one woman out to a property that had difficult access – it required two men to do this job. I can't even remember the answer I got now to be honest – how stupid and unprofessional. I was the told that an ambulance could be arranged later and that also two local Occupational Therapists could be called to come and assist. 'Thanks' I said, I'll sort it myself! I work with therapists all day long and am one myself, I didn't need their assistance, I needed two men and transport. What a disgusting service.

Its amazing what you can achieve when you are angry. Anyway, next job was to calm Father down who was sobbing and very upset. I am fiercely protective of my family and this massive cock-up had riled me to the extreme. There was no way, I was delaying this any further. They could stuff their taxi's and ambulances. Nigel was just awesome and is extremely compassionate and very very kind – he did an excellent job of calming father as best he could. It was extremely kind of Nigel to come out and especially as he shouldn't have even been there anyway, as I think he had finished his shift, before he came over here with me!

Father's original wheelchair had four small wheels and I have never been able to get him out of the property, but a few weeks ago (thinking ahead) I got this changed to a self-propelling chair which has two enormous side wheels and I knew this would be easier to get out of the property. Father was crying and protesting as I wheeled him towards the door, but I didn't get upset as I was so angry! Nigel wanted to do more physically, but I wouldn't let him, after all he is staff, I am family, family can break health and safety rules! The door threshold is the most difficult bit, but I was determined to get him out, I managed that bit, then the next big step down, along the concrete path, turned the chair around and went up the big step and we were out!!! Whahooo! This new chair is brilliant, if I had known this, I would have taken Father hours ago – I do far heavier things in my job on a daily basis.

This was the first time Father had been out of the house for god knows how long. I cheered him up when I pointed out that he was now sitting in the sunshine in the garden and we left him here for a few minutes, gave him a drink and mopped up the tears and he was ok. But – as soon as I started to wheel him towards my car, he was very emotional again, it was awful, really awful. I don't know quite how we got him in the car, but we did. Used my therapy knowledge (from Lesley Kemp) and put a dustbin bag on the front passenger seat – this works brilliantly to help swivel someone into their seat and it worked beautifully! With Father belted in and washing up bowl on his lap (as he suffers terribly with travel sickness) we were off. He became calm again when I said excitedly that I had been waiting for ages to get him in my car again and isn't this great and general words of encouragement etc.

The first 5 minutes of the journey was fine, but then it all turned into a traumatic situation. 'How much longer?' father kept asking me.... 'I feel sick'. In Ringstead I had to do an emergency stop and just moved the bowl under father 's chin in time, when he was violently sick – all the raspberry dessert he had had a lunchtime!!! The rest of the journey was awful, he was continuously sick over and over again, until we reached the car home. Because of my quick reaction the first time and Nigel doing a brilliant job of holding the bowl under his chin from his position in the back seat, Father didn't get any sick on his clothes at all, which was a miracle really.

It was such a relief to arrive at the home. The sunshine was beautiful and there was a donkey in the horse field next to the care home and it looked very pretty. Nigel got Father out of the car this time (bless him) and we got him into the wheelchair. He was sick again, but no more after this – he looked very pale and I was worried about him now – I gave him some water from my bottle. I had suggested to Nigel earlier that it would be better to take him straight upstairs to his room. It would have finished him off to then join 25 residents, after the day and stress he had had. So, we took him upstairs in the lift and wheeled him into his new bedroom.

He didn't cry any more and was simply exhausted. I helped to toilet him and then transferred him into the armchair where he promptly fell asleep. I met some lovely staff today including Gay, Josie and Bibin who were all wonderful and caring people and massive thank you to them all, but the Golden Angel of the day was without a doubt Nigel Playford, so thank you so much. Whilst father slept, I unpacked all his things, which I really enjoyed doing. It wasn't funny packing them all up this weekend at all, but it nice to be able to put everything away nicely and in an organised fashion.

Father woke up and was calm and I pointed out where everything was and what was in the room, not that he could really see anyway, but there was one thing that super organised Penny had forgotten – after I listed everything, he said questionably 'clock?' 'Ahhhh....' I said, "I forgot about that, I'll get you one'. Father likes to see the time and if its a huge clock, he can see the hands on the clock, so will have to nip to Argos or somewhere and get him one. I decided to stay with Father until he got into bed and then leave. The evening was beautiful and I could hear Blackcaps singing in the garden.

A very clever qualified lady, I think her name was Josie discussed Father's medication with me and came back a bit later to give him his tablets. I could hardly believe what I witnessed – she put three tablets on a spoon, he took them instantly, had a drink and it was all done in under 20 seconds. Why then did it take Mother and I two bloody hours at times! If I had known he was going to comply so quickly with strangers, I would have put him in this home yonks ago!!! Well, you know what I mean! Got Father into his pyjamas etc and got him into his new bed (hospital bed) which is much more suitable, more spacious and had two big rails and cot sides. I brought his own pillow with me, as we all like our own pillow don't we. The first thing he said was when I got him into bed, was 'rails again, don't want these, I can't get out' 'exactly' I replied, 'that's the idea...... just like when you were at home'. The only time I got emotional whilst there, was when he said 'when will I be going home?', which for a moment I didn't khow to answer and then said, 'well it depends if you like it here, you might want to stay'. Anyway, I have typed far too much, but I find blogging helps to get everything off your chest. I left Father peacefully in bed at 9.20pm. All the staff were awesome and I felt very happy to leave him here, but my only worry was the call bell string is a very thin string and I don't think he will be able to pull it, but they will check him regularly anyway.

I then drove back to Mother's at Holme to make sure she was ok and showed her a little video I took of Father in his room to reassure her. She looked knackered. I had a quick coffee and a piece of coffee cake I found in the tin, as I hadn't eaten this evening. As Mother and I both said, it was very very weird with Father not being in the house. I tried to paint a rosy picture for Mother and pointed out that she would be able to sleep in, go out and do anything she pleases now!!! I can't wait to take her out birding! Drove home and felt relieved the day was over. Back to work tomorrow!

If any old friends of Father's would like to visit him, the care home is Summerville House, Fenway, Heacham, Norfolk PE31 7BH. It's going to be good for birding too, loads of horse fields around there! There has to be a hoopoe at least! Can't wait to take father out for a walk in the wheelchair, good times ahead all round hopefully! Good Night!


  1. Phew !!! Penny I'm exhausted after reading of your day . What a strain on you all. What a kindly gent Nigel is. Indeed a shambles of a service . I do hope when things settle you make a formal complaint for all the unnecessary strain placed upon your family. I hope your father settles in his new home. Your poor mother , she is an absolute Saint yo have coped this far. I'm sending you and your mum a hug and sending you all healing thoughts. ((((( penny)))), (((penny's mum)))). Take care Penny and don't over do it. David.

  2. Thank you so much David, much appreciated. Thanks for the hugs! x