For the past couple of months, I’ve been in what can be described as a version of Hell: Trying to convince an elderly relative, my grandmother, that she needed to accept home-based care. I love my grandmother dearly. She has been a heavy influence on my life to date: When Mum was out running her own business after my parents divorced so that we had food, my grandmother (or as I call her, ‘Mama’) was always there, from picking me up from nursery to going to hers after school for food.
After a number of falls, an inability to move herself without my assistance, and becoming completely unable to cook for herself or even lock her door at night (now resolved), I raised the issue with Derbyshire Social Services. I was told by a care co-ordinator at my local GP surgery that it would take up to three weeks to get back to me. Fortunately, her case was triaged and a social worker called me the very next day about how we could hatch a plan.
My grandmother’s GP was immensely helpful, too, sending out the local community nurse to check on her diabetes and blood pressure. It became very clear that, due to her inability to eat, and due to an unreviewed dose of her blood pressure medication, both conditions had become unstable. The nurse is still working on that as I speak: She has been in contact with me regularly, and has been to see my grandmother three times.
Arranging care for an adult can be very draining, especially when you’re providing the interim care that she needs. As humans, we all have our limits. I had little to no respite during this eight-week period, seeing my best friend once, but being so anxious about my grandmother while I tried to sleep as to drive home in the small hours in case she needed me very early.
The triaging of her case could not have come more quickly and Derbyshire County Council’s Adult Team provided what I can only say was a person who was born to be a social worker within 24 hours. She’s lovely. She came to assess her needs, reassured my grandmother that she deserved the dignity of being cared for in her old age, and set in motion the associated requirements.
I’ve not dealt with the number of phone calls that I have recently on behalf of someone else, but I can tell you that the care provision provided is excellent, having dealt with the particular firm beforehand when she broke her hip. I am optimistic that, with our help by sending food, my doing her shopping and providing care where I can, and a competent care company, things will improve.
The speed at which we received specialist equipment for her, including a Medequip bed which can help her get out of bed and get some rest (the ones in hospitals), was incredible. Within four hours of the occupational therapist – a visit also arranged by the social worker – placing an order for the requisite equipment, it was at her house. Me and a relative dismantled her old bed.
She has had referrals to several teams which take some more time to action, but that’s due to NHS waiting lists.
Without that social worker and a care plan being put in place within two and a half weeks of her visit, I have no doubt that by now I would not be well myself. Truth be told, it had started to take its toll – on me and those around me.
We often bemoan that Adult Care is a dreadful service, with it only ever being at the very end that things get done. In my experience, this isn’t true: They are there for you when you and your loved ones need them the most, and the work that they get done under tremendous amounts of pressure is incredible.
In my previous life working in politics, I only ever heard the bad stories, but I can tell you that excellent social workers are the backbone of our Adult Care system.