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First ever post... thinking of becoming 1st time carer - Carers UK Forum

First ever post... thinking of becoming 1st time carer

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Hi everyone,

I'm Annie and I'm a big ol' newbie Image My mother-in-law had a fall 4 weeks back which put her in hospital for 3 weeks, luckily she didn't break anything but prior to this she had been neglecting herself. She is the kind of woman is falls into the 'glam nan' category which made her decline even more noticeable. She hadn't been eating, washing or getting out of the house over a period of a few weeks, and her decline was both rapid and extreme. This was brought about by her decision to sell her house of 33 years, due to not being able to afford the running of it, when it didn't sell straight away she became very depressed and began to drink heavily. This combined with the general fragile state, age (74 this Nov) and lack of food, led to her becoming very ill and confused.

We were on the verge of calling Adult services when she had her fall. We looked after her house and cats and visited every night. We have since moved in with her to help care for her and and help with the finances. She has only been back from hospital for 4 days so far but it is already taxing, as we had moved home (packed up belongings, kids and cats) in the space of 2 days.

I am extremely angry at the lack of help prior to mum's discharge from hospital. We had made it extremely clear (daily discussions with ward nurses, ongoing chats with occupational therapists and completing long social history forms) that we would need a care package set up for when she comes home, as my husband and I both work full time and have 3 dependent children to care for also. We expressed our concerns about mum not being able to care for herself properly, and as she is completely deaf in one ear, and with only 15% hearing in the other, her situation is frustrating and upsetting fer her. When my husband collected her from hospital, he discovered a care package had not been set up for her, the discharge nurse had no record of it and there was in fact a week's notes missing from her file. Nobody knew what was going on and no one had any idea who's fault it was. Mum had been signed off as 'care refused by family' which is an outright lie, as we would never have refused a care package that we so adamantly requested.

We have since managed to get two daily care visits arranged until I get back from work in the afternoon, but with them only being around half an hour each, and I know mum still isn't eating breakfast or lunch, I am considering quitting work and becoming her full time carer. I'm constantly worried that she may have another fall while I am at work, and that she may not look after herself properly when she is on her own.

I am going to call the Carers UK helpline but just wondered if anyone else has any advice on this sort of situation, and how it worked out for them.

Thanks for reading my ramblings,

Annie Image
What a great upheaval for you all. Terrible news about the notes & lack of care package.

There is a service here called Care Line - I am sure it exists everywhere but possibly under a different name. The user weares a pendant with a button on so if they fall they can press it & it contacts the care line centre who try to contact the person back (in case of error) or contact designated adults. I wondered if this would be something you could consider to give you peace of mind for when you aren't around for your Mum? Just a thought - something to ease your mind a bit.
Hello Annie and welcome to the forum.

Please do think long and hard about becoming your Mum's 24/7 Carer. Before I took on the task I thought it would be 'a walk in the park' when, in fact, the reality was totally different. Apart from the change in your financial circumstances - Carers Allowance at £53+ per week doesn't anywhere near make up for a full wage packet, not even with the addition of Attendance Allowance - there is the emotional impact that Caring full time has on your own health and well being.

Before making any final decisions I would suggest that you contact Social Services for an assessment for your Mum and a Carers Assessment for yourself. Under the circumstances, two half hour visits a day are not sufficient to ensure her safety. And, almost certainly, a formal complaint to the hospital regarding her discharge would be in order.
Hi Annie,

Do you have age concern near you because I have been to them for advice and they have been wonderful. The lady was very understanding and friendly and gave me numbers for all the support that we have recieved. They may be able to give you advice on different options that are available before you make the decision. Are you able to take a holiday from work to look in to the possibilities. It's very hard because you want to do whatever you can for your Mum but get some support too. Caring does inpact you life and I think when this happens your adrenaline keeps you going but at some point you will find it tiring and your health may suffer, especially if you have children to look after as well.
It is tough though either way so I really feel for you. Good luck Image
Hello Annie Image

Good to have you with us but so sorry to hear about your troubles.

Sounds like yet another very poor hospital discharge. A proper assessment should have been undertaken by Adult Services prior to discharge and then a Care Package sorted to help with the return home. The ward staff are responsible for referring to Adult Services. You can always make a formal complaint to the hospital concerned but its all a bit late now.

If you have not spoken to Adult Services meanwhile, then you really should. Its important to get the right care and support, for the benefit of everyone. And as and when further issues arise, you know better about what help is around and how to get any Care Package reviewed.

But you have done a great job in the circumstances, Annie. Maybe consider your own position once Adult Services have got involved and looked at the situation and what would help. Its just a pity they have not been involved before.

Hope things settle for you both and hope you can carry on with your work too, if possible. Please contact Adult Services and tell them whats happened, and how things are now, and ask them to help.

Take care,

Hi and welcome to the Forum.I don`t have anything to add other than i hope you find the Forum useful and fun. Image Image Image
Quitting work to care for your mum seems a little premature at this stage (That's not intended in a critical way, by the way). You may benefit better from having a look what is available for you first. As some have already said, both you and your mum need an assessment from Social services to see what they would do to make life easier.

Does your employer even know that you are a carer? With some jobs, you may be able to work from home or, at the very least, work flexible hours. Perhaps, once you know what social services are prepared to offer in terms of help, you could approach your employer with a possible deal for them to approve or decline?
I'm really concerned that your workload is going to be too much for you. I did too much juggling, and I realise now how much my family suffered as a whole. If you still have kids at home, think hard how your family will managed on a reduced income if you give up work? Even more, think how you will feel about the loss of your friends and your career? How will you feel when your mum is no longer here and your kids grown up? How will it affect the kid's schooling? How will your husband view all this? These are all things to think and talk about with your loved ones. Firstly, you need to make a "formal complaint" to the Chief Executive of the hospital mentioning the words "unsafe discharge". It is their responsibility to make sure mum has a care package in place before she is discharged. Say you want it done immediately. Then sit down with mum and have a chat about her finances. My mum and dad had a mortgage taken out which they only pay interest on, the balance repayable after mum has died. If mum's condition has deteriorated permanently, she might be eligible for extra benefits, check with a benefits adviser. My mum lives alone although she walks with a Zimmer and can do very little for herself, but she has a Lifeline pendant and carers come in 3 times a day, and I'm available on the phone when she needs me. Taking a week or two off work is a good idea if you can manage it, to give you all some breathing space. Make no mistake, one way or another this is a Life Changing Moment for you all. I hope that one way or another, everything works out for you and your family.
Hi Annie,
Hello and welcome to the forum.
Minnie Image
I agree with Beck, look at all the options and think very carefully before giving up your job...at least entirely!
It's incredibly important to think of your needs as well as those of your family.