My friend’s mum has been seriously ill and in hospital for weeks. She spent weeks in intensive care, then the high dependency unit before going to an ordinary ward. Her mum was nursed one to one and then 1 to 3. In the medical ward she was one of 15 patients to 1 nurse. My friend can’t understand how one minute you need this level of care and then next the care has to be provided by family members. Now mum is coming home. Or rather she’s going to be taken home by my friend and they are going to turn the dining room into a bedroom. She needs rehab and can’t manage at home yet although hopefully the aim would be for her to go home eventually. There’s a loo downstairs and they are trying to think what to do about a shower or bath. They have a funny staircase so they don’t think a stair lift would work.
So when I went round there the other day I asked the questions: have you had the discharge planning meeting yet? You know so that you can sit down and work out what will happen, how mum will manage, what level of care she needs at home and what help they can give her. And then you should have an assessment too as a carer to see what help you need’. And of course the answer from her was a blank stare. I repeated myself and said look I happen to know about this stuff if they are going to discharge your mum home then both you and her should have a pre discharge planning meeting and an assessment of both your needs. You can say you’re happy to provide all her personal care, if you are, but that you would want some help with the housework in order to be able to run the house and do your job as well. All this was news to her.
What astonishes me is how people like this manage to slip through the net. My friend is articulate, smart and sensible. She is assertive without being pushy and won’t normally take no for an answer. We live in a local authority area with really excellent services for users and carers and no shortage of voluntary sector provision, although this is under pressure. She had assumed that she would automatically get everything she needed in the way of help without having to ask for it. So I have sat down with her and she has a long list of what she wants, what her mum wants and how she needs help with her family, her work and her home if she is to provide the lion’s share of the support her mum needs.
How does it happen that we go to pieces when we have to ask for something for ourselves? I am so assertive (maybe even rude?) when I am trying to sort out work issues but trying to get an appointment for the GP before the end of the month or to tackle my daughter’s awful teacher is an impossibility. I know I need taking in hand and perhaps it is the feeling of being out of my depth or anxious and worried for my child but I would sooner pick up a spider than speak to my daughter’s teacher about her maths homework and how none of us understood it (so that is my husband, him with a double first from Oxford and me with a BA and an MA both shuddering and juddering in front of Mrs X. Where exactly is the sense in that, pray?)
2 days ago