The feature photo looks idyllic doesn’t it!  An elderly lady – sitting in a nice garden with the resident dog at her feet….

If you were trying to decide on a nursing home, this image could sell spaces – and if you had done your homework and enquired about staff, activities, food, laundry etc. – they can still tell you what you want to hear.  It sounds almost perfect!

What you woudn’t know about this image is that I was there to take Mum out to this space and interact with the dog – otherwise she wouldn’t have been there.   The dementia patients were rarely ‘let out’ – yes they had a very small garden – and the staff sometimes tried to take some of them for a walk – but they were so under staffed it was almost impossible.

As I said in my earlier posts, my sister Sue and I thought we had done our homework – we had asked lots of questions and toured every nursing home in the district.  In the end we didn’t have much choice as there were no vacancies at the time – but when this one came up we were thrilled – as it was in our ‘Top Three’.

The picture above was Mum in September 2013 – her leg was giving her trouble but she was okay and had recovered from the earlier falls.  The picture below was taken in November.

nanna nov

This decline in nursing home patients is considered ‘normal’.  I heard so many reasons – ‘Oh – they just give up’  ‘Sometimes the body just starts to shut down’….. and Dr Ego was still telling me that it was her heart.  He pushed that line so hard – he had almost convinced me he was right.  He said he got a ‘different report’ from the cardiologist – she must have ‘softened’ the diagnosis for me….

Once again I could see similarities in the horse world – people will sometimes decide the ‘problem’ with a horse without any clear facts.  The louder and pushier they are – the more you think they are right.

On a positive side – the extra help provided for Mum’s care was wonderful.  She was more erratic – unable to move at times – then she would suddenly jump up and rush around – with the carers running after her.

I was thinking that her dementia/brain injury must have deteriorated.  Her leg was no better – but to me it didn’t seem any worse.  She was placed on oxygen – supposedly for her heart – and was mainly confined to ‘one of those chairs’.

As we moved into December she had good and bad days. Lee – the super nurse – was away.  We had heard no more about a move to the other nursing home.  By now I realised it was too late.  It was obvious she was declining rapidly – yet some days she surprised me.

The staff told me of her increasingly erratic behaviour.  She would sometimes push other patients – and she could be so strong – then so weak.  One day Emma and I were going to wheel her along to the duck pond – we got outside and then Mum was demanding to get out of the chair.  She started to stand up.  Thank goodness for Emma and her nursing skills – she talked Nanna into staying put and focused her attention onto the ducks.  It was exhausting!

nanna duck pond


I just felt defeated –  and to my horror Stan was back on duty.  The board had finished their ‘investigation’.  He was free to return.  On the plus side – he was being ‘reasonable’ to me.  I had moved beyond fighting – I just wanted Mum to be pain free and calm.

In mid December, I was told by one of the staff they had lost three patients in a week – she said to me ‘I’m not meant to tell you, but they all had sepsis’.  I knew that was infection – but I wasn’t sure how it spread.  She told me it wasn’t unusual but they kept it quiet.

I felt like I was living in a nightmare.  I still didn’t think Mum had enough pain relief – at that point I didn’t know if it was just her leg which was in pain or her whole body.  She said she was very cold…. and Dr Ego would tell me that was her heart….

By this stage she needed two or three assistants to help in moving her – I so admire some of those assistants – they really do an incredible job.  By this time it was mid December – Emma and I discussed that it was time to call the family – it was obvious the final weeks were here…




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