Dementia: ‘Trouble In Big Brother’s Household’

I took a worrying call from my sister in law yesterday that all is not well in my brother’s Nursing Home. Apparently there has been a significant downturn in the quality of care John has been receiving in the last few weeks.  This is such a shame as John had seemed well cared for: surrounded by lots of ‘lovely ladies’ who attended to his every need.  Now the signs, approaching neglect, are clear to any observer – with Jean having genuine concerns about her husband’s personal care.

At this juncture I think it is worth revisiting John’s journey to his Nursing Home.  His route to diagnosis has a familiar ring to it; with close family taking a while to accept that Alzheimer’s was causing radical changes in his behaviour.  Once his condition was out in the open we struggled to know how we could help.  As things got more difficult for Jean to cope with she persuaded John to attend a local Day Centre.  When she sought respiteone weekend John’s destiny was sealed.

Unfamilar with new surroundings John struck out, so we are told, at a carer.  Police were summoned and John was sectioned.  A considerable spell in a Mental Health Unit resulted in chemical intervention, to calm down his behaviour, so that he could be placed in a Nursing Home on continuing health care.  How fortunate that Maureen didn’t lash out at anyone when she was dumped  by a social worker in her ‘Mental Home’: it’s scary to think about where that might have led!

Whenever I have visited John he has seemed happy: comfortable and surrounded by ‘lovely ladies’.  A new manager has recently been appointed and staff turnover has been high.  John’s main carers are now predominantly bank nurses from an Agency.  Few of them really know John and may well not understand his personal needs.  As his wife says she has had to call at John’s Household on a daily basis in the last few weeks to make sure he is clean.  Staff shortages and the influx of new staff have led to personal care of residents falling by the wayside.  The Nursing Home has never been spick and span but now the constant aroma says it all.

I am often told that Maureen is at the most challenging stage of dementia.  I don’t mind the daily challenges one bit.  Yes it is tiring and I wish my wife had never had a stroke with ensuing dementia. However, I don’t relish the day I can no longer cope seeing her neglected by others and not knowing where to turn.  No wonder this is on my mind so early in the morning as I can’t easily get down to see my Big Brother or give my sister in law any support at thois moment in time.

When you are a Care Partner you soon learn who your real friends are.  It only took an EMail, to the Coventry contingent, and my daugher and two sisters sprang into action as soon as I passed on  how distressed  Jean had become.  The other thing you learn is never to pass on any bad news, of any kind, to Maureen she has enough to deal with!

Footnote: Just remembered today is ‘Sunday Roast’ day.

6 thoughts on “Dementia: ‘Trouble In Big Brother’s Household’

  1. I’m so frustrated and sad to read todays post. Only earlier this morning was I commenting on Kate’s blog about residential care, suggesting that some homes really are trying and succeeding in providing happy, good care and that a more positive approach might be helpful. I know some homes are failing, I desperately hope that they are in the minority but I really know they aren’t. I was told by a well meaning friend yesterday that i can’t save the whole world. My reply was that at least I can start wit the 16 people I work with. I’m not saying that for any plaudits only to let you know that there are folk out there trying to make a difference. I really hope that we will come to a time that families won’t be so fearful about their loved ones living in residential care; that it will be a warm, safe and joyful place for them to move to once the time comes.


  2. Hi Jenny I am always impressed by the imagination you bring to your work. I know there are lots of people in the care sector who are doing their best. The austerity measures meant that local authorities are presented with a difficult task and are squeezing the care sector hard. It is difficult to recruit and retain staff. There has been lots of media coverage over the Living Wage leading to wholesale closures of Care Homes. Just to end on a bright note the Activities Organiser in my mother’s Care Home is a volunteer who needs the bingo that she puts on as much as the residents!


  3. Oh, Paul. I am so sorry to hear about your worries for your brother, and also the sad sequence of events that brought him into residential care. I do hope the problems can be resolved but it is a sobering description of his experiences. Love to you and Maureen.


  4. Thanks Ali: the Coventry contingent are on the case. A bit like my beloved Sky Blue’s song: ‘while we sing together we will never lose’: What an irony Jimmy Hill was our manager when we adopted that song and he has Alzheimer’s now!


    1. Thanks Lemony it is so sad to hear that John is no longer surrounded by his lovely ladies. I hope to be able to get to see him in a couple of weeks and give Jean some support. In my hour of need they along with my sisters were there for me.


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