Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Duty Hols

My nose is to the grindstone once more, back from mostly cloudy often rainy occasionally sunny Blighty.

After a week in Mumbles, Gower where we didn't manage to get on the beach because the weather bore no relation to the type of warm sunny day you need for lounging about on a towel, we came back to London to pick up dotty dad.

He had spent two weeks in a local council recommended EMI respite centre which is supposed to be a secure unit for Alzheimer and other patients who get violent and/or wander. I say 'supposed to be' because my mother got a call while she was away to say that my dad had got violent. It turned out they hadn't given him his happy pill, so the consequence of this was my dad turning over chairs and tables and generally behaving like an Alzheimer patient who hasn't had his happy pill.

What was astonishing was that no one in the EMI secure unit respite centre seemed to know what to do or how to handle him. The staff were women who complained that they are just weak and feeble and couldn't cope with a violent man. Fair enough, so where was the token 'bouncer'? Why weren't the women trained in containment? Why didn't they give him his happy pill?

Earlier in the week they had called my mother to say he wouldn't take his pills. They aren't allowed manhandle him to pop one in his mouth, he has to take them himself, and he was clamping his mouth shut. My mother was 220miles away so I'm not sure what they were expecting her to do - come back and do it herself? Anyway, she suggested they try putting the pill in a spoonful of jam and giving that to him. Miracle, it worked, and they told her it was such a good idea.

This from professional caring staff. Frightening, don't you think?

When we went there, the staff were pleasant enough, but there was hardly anyone about. EMI centres are supposed to have a higher ratio of staff than normal units. We picked up dotty dad's case, and collected him from the social room where everyone was sat round the edge and music was blaring out from the television. One woman sat distressed and weeping, imploring me to do something I couldn't hear because of the music. I could only tell a carer who was helping us get my dad ready about her plight. I got an airy response so I presume nothing was done.

When we got home, they had packed 7 items of clothing that didn't belong to him, and forgot to pack another 7, labelled, that did, so we had to go back the next day to be told by the laundry lady that upstairs had mucked things up ("as usual... if you gave them a brain cell each they'd be dangerous...!"), they were in the system and it would take a week for them to come out of the wash. It was like the Marie Celeste elsewhere in there, with no one about. As all the lifts and doors are keypad protected, if you don't know the code, you're there for life! Eventually we made it out, empty-handed and concerned that further proof of incompetence was so easy to find.

Back at home, dotty dad has a carer morning and night to dress and undress him etc., and look for bruises and scratches... The temptation to give him both was almost too much after the third night of his roaming about and into my room at 3.30am. Interrupted sleep does nothing to improve my temper.

Thankfully, I'm now back where my TWDB has managed to rent a little house for himself in a complex with a pool so I'm finally able to get out and do some exercise! Well away from the smell of pee and the parallel universe of being a carer.


  1. Which is worse, being the Carer or knowing that one day you may become the Care-ee?
    I saw a prog. on the box the other night and they talked about living until 150 years. GOD! I hope not.

  2. You're right there, anon. I would hate to end up like that. Mind you, my dad is fairly oblivious and just has his every need taken care of by my mother who is no spring chicken, and who has to spend the little energy she has on ensuring his cushy lifestyle.

    What is the point of spending money to prolong life? I would hate to end up a zombie like him.

  3. Mr. Fly says that at the first signs of zombieism coming on, he wants to be killed...he went through it with his father.

    Problem is, how to get the pills?

    Sympathise with your's like being tied to a treadmill.

  4. Sorry to read this Sarah, it must not be easy for you or your mum.

    The thought of one day needing to be cared for scares the living daylights out of me.

  5. Thanks, Fly. A lot of people would hate to sink into a zombie state and be a burden but unfortunately, we do not seem to have much legal control over the length of our lives.

    The medical profession is hell bent on keeping blood pumping through our veins with little regard for anything else, and the do-gooders scream about sanctity of life.

    If it weren't for the potential of family pressure to do away with a family member to get at the inheritance, I'm sure the situation wouldn't be so thorny. As usual, it all comes down to money.

    Piglet - me too!
    It's especially not easy for my mother. I can parachute in and out, but it does turn a holiday into something of a stressful duty visit.

  6. Do gooders either work in the so called 'caring' managerial level well away from the smelly stuff...or have the money or pull for non stop care in the home.

  7. I agree, things are always better when you can throw money at a problem.


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