The search goes on
When Ash was first diagnosed one piece of advice I was given was to start looking at care homes immediately because then I wouldn’t have to rush into anything in a crisis. I couldn’t bring myself to do it and have waited until it all looks a closer reality.
I’ve been thinking today that maybe it’s yet another area where young onset dementia is different to old age dementia. Five years ago Ash was still relatively young, full of energy and most of his interests and hobbies were the same as they'd always been. That being so the home I would have chosen for him then would have been very different to what I’m looking for now. Over the last 5 years he’s become old before my eyes and has changed so much that there really is little of the old him left.
So, what am I looking for? ‘Something which I fear doesn’t exist’ is the answer to that.
Somewhere old and slightly scruffy.
Somewhere with a small footprint – he’s confused enough already without having to find his way down endless corridors.
Somewhere with all en suite bedrooms.
Somewhere with enough staff to interact with residents whenever they need distracting or just need a bit of company.
Somewhere not too noisy.
Somewhere with staff specially trained in dementia care.
Somewhere with a long established staff team.
Somewhere which communicates clearly, regularly and coherently about the day to day stuff.
Somewhere he can get outside if he wants to.
Somewhere which will welcome me with open arms to look around without an appointment.
Somewhere that doesn’t smell!!!!
Somewhere he can stay until the end.
What don’t I want?
Somewhere modern and/or smart just because he won’t be comfortable anywhere like that.
Somewhere new because it takes a long time for policies, procedures and processes to become embedded and it takes a long while for a manager to build a cohesive staff team.
Somewhere with a high staff turnover. He may not recognise staff but they should recognise him, know his likes/dislikes and understand what distresses him.
What don’t I think is important?
Distance from home (within reason). It’s about finding the best home for Ash not the one that’s most convenient for me.
Will let you know if I think of anything else and I'd be grateful if you could let me know if you think I've missed anything. I'd like to reiterate that these are just the things I think are important for Ash. Some people I'm sure would much prefer new and smart but we live in an old cottage and those aren't words I would connect with what he's used to.
I’ve now visited 6 homes and 3 of them have lots of things on my ‘wanted’ list. None of them have all and only one of them has spaces. The one that has spaces has almost everything on my list but they don’t do nursing care so that’s out. Not only that but it's the one where my mum lives and, even with limited understanding, Ash would sense her presence so that's not going to work!
It's all a bit of a minefield and I'm finding it, frankly, a little dispiriting but it's important to find the right place without too many compromises so I won't give up and I'll keep you updated on the search.