Carers’ Group: 11th February

Eight of us had another set of lively discussions.

Prior to the meeting kicking-off, some informal chats between individuals highlighted the benefits of counselling – several of the group had positive experiences. We always emphasis the need for carers to look after themselves and this may take a variety of forms. Talking therapies can be very helpful, especially when people find it difficult/inappropriate to say what they think/feel to those immediately around them. A release valve helps keep pressure under control.

We mentioned GPS tracking again. One carer told us her husband had recently gone for a walk in the middle of the night and she did not know where he was. The tracker found him in Stratford! – there is more information on trackers here.

Members agreed that, whatever plans you make, there will always be the unexpected to deal with. A longstanding member described her recent first efforts to find some suitable respite care for her mother – a suitable home was found, it looks just right, all that was needed was a visit to assess mum would get the support she needed – on the way to the meeting the assessor was called back, at no notice, due to a snap inspection from the powers that be. We await further developments.

A couple of members said they had to deal with the person they cared for thinking they needed to go out, even when they had just arrived somewhere. This even affected someone at our last Friendship Group! We discussed distraction tactics such as: getting ready to go out (hats/coats/bags etc), walking as far as the front gate, then brining up the bad weather etc. Tactics and techniques helped to diffuse the situation, but “Sundowning” often made the issue worse.

A lovely story from one of the group. She had been to visit her husband, who often doesn’t recognise her. He had taken her hand and kissed it when she arrive. It made her feel special… Then a member of staff came along, and he did the same to her.

Getting the right care from care agencies can be difficult. Sometimes there is a disconnect between the agreed and expected service, and what actually happens. A paid carer who asks for ideas and guidance from a person expecting a break from their daily routine is not what might be expected. The group recommended a quick escalation of concerns with the care agency is necessary to ensure a suitable service is provided.

Group members who have a history of caring for relatives said how sad they were that there seemed to be considerably fewer services available these days. While this may be true, there was quick support for the work of Time Court and The Meadows (both Sanctuary Care), and Age Concern Chislehurst.

We usually have a convoluted story of issues arising since our last meeting. One that was described this time could be summarised as a nightmare hospital stay (including a urine infection that turned so bad that the patient ended up in re-sus, and two bouts of the Novo virus) followed by a placement in a “care” home that culminated in a 5 hour meeting where the social worker was in despair about the lack of care provided and the absence of “care” records. Again, we await developments.

The group revisited the need for Lasting Power of Attorney and the benefits of Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare.

Janet mentioned the benefits of signing-up to the Alzheimer’s Society Talking Point On-line Community.

Towards the end of the session we talked tactics regarding visits to the doctor and/or specialists. The professionals have very little time and need to make decisions based on the evidence presented to them. It may help to provide background to someone’s circumstances and state of mind prior to a session that might otherwise go like this: Doctor “Are you ok”. Dementia patient “I’m ok”. Doctor “ Wonderful. Don’t hesitate to make another appointment, if you feel unwell” Carer (while being ushered out of the surgery) “But…”

My short discussion topic “How to seek calm in a busy day” has been put on hold until our next meeting, but for anyone who can’t wait the essentials are here.

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