Sue and I toured every nursing home in the area. We thought we had a good idea of what was important – Mum wanted a nice single room and an area where she could walk outside. She needed supervision and company…
In the end, it wasn’t really a matter of choosing – at the time there were no vacancies in any of our choices – except one – Legacy had their own nursing home – a very good one and the obvious choice as Mum knew many people in Legacy. However we turned it down as she wanted her own room and she would have had to share a room with three others.
I’ve written this detail for anyone else who may be in this situation. We were still thinking about Mum being well enough to enjoy her own room – our priorities were wrong….. in the end, good nursing/medical care would turn out to be the priority.
Finally a place came up in a nursing home on our list – let’s call it Dodgy Aged Care… It was in fact one of the up market nursing homes in the area – but that doesn’t always translate to good care.
We had waited such a long time for a place and I was elated when this came up. I naively thought that a nursing home would be able to take some of the load off me – that I would have some free days to spend some horse time……
I had started Alexandra Kurland’s online course. I had managed to go through the first few lessons and I had chosen one of Alex’s online clicker coaches – Cindy Bennett Martin. Cindy not only helped me with the horses, she supported me through some dark days with Mum. She constantly reinforced me and that was such a help. Thankyou Cindy!
I would sometimes come home from visiting Mum in tears. I would walk to the horses exhausted, often saying over and over ‘I can’t do it – I can’t do it all’. I really thought I’d have to give the horses away. I didn’t realise at the time that it was the horses who were saving me – I would go and brush them and feel calm – I’d feel their soft muzzles on my hand – and my heart rate would drop to a more normal beat. The connection to the earth – the peace – it would wash away the drama of the day…
At that time I needed the horses more than they needed me. I knew Doug had my back – he would feed them if I was late – they were 24/7 on pasture – so their basic needs were met.
Dodgy Aged Care was meant to be a support – instead I became a support for many of the workers there – and I tried my best to change how things were run…… all to no avail….
Mum was moved to the dementia unit where they had a full time activities manager. Julie was amazing – the patients loved her. And she was the reason I left Mum there.
The trouble started almost immediately – there were two nurses in charge – let’s call them Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Now Stan – the skinny one – was the self delegated boss. Not only did he bully staff – he did not send patients to hospital if they needed to go. The reason was that they were highly critical of the care these nursing home patients were receiving – and for good reason!
Ollie was his sidekick – he didn’t like working and had been reported for being found asleep at night when he was supposed to be caring for the patients.
My first experience of Stan was when I received a call to say Mum had had a fall but was ‘okay’ – well – she was crying in pain – Stan was convinced she was ‘putting it on’. I frantically phoned her new doctor (who I will name Dr. Ego). Fortunately Dr Ego’s nurse was brilliant – unlike Dr Ego. Mum was prescribed painkillers – but Stan was mean in dishing them out.
In hindsight, we should have taken her to the hospital – it was only after I asked Dr Ego to get x rays that we found she had fractured the pelvis. Suddenly the nursing home was in panic mode and they fussed over her and treated her much better.
There were great nurses and aged care workers. They were there because they had a genuine love for the elderly. They recognised that they had been people who had led productive lives and were entitled to the best of care. There was a man who had once been captain of the Queen’s ship, also a doctor – who now walked around with a clipboard, a postman who did laps of the ward constantly, a ballet dancer and escapee of wartime Poland – mothers, fathers – all people who had led productive lives. Surely they deserved the best of care in their final, difficult years.
I liken it to horses – all those horses who have served humans so well – they deserve the best of care when they are no longer able to do their job. At least animals can be humanely ‘put down’. It’s a shame humans can’t when they wish to leave the earth….
The feature photo is of a horse statue in the garden of the nursing home. It reminded me of Danny – and I liked to think the horses were watching over Mum – in fact – they were!
COMING UP – DESCENT INTO HELL
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