- Moving from an isolated home to a Retirement Village
- Help finding a Care Home for a parent when living abroad
- Moving closer to a family member
- Simon’s Story
- Planned Advocacy Support
- Emergency Advocacy Support
1. Moving from an isolated home to a Retirement Village
Mr. and Mrs. H. had a large property on the edge of a small hamlet where they had lived for over 40 years. Last year, Mr. H. was diagnosed with prostate cancer and, while every indication was that he had caught the disease early and that treatment would be effective, it suddenly made him realize how difficult it would be for his wife should anything happen to him. Mrs. H. does not drive and the hamlet has no public transport or shop. They have three sons, one of whom lives in London and the other two live in America, where Mr. and Mrs. H. spend some time every year. As they spend so much time abroad, it was always a worry to leave the house unoccupied for long stretches of time.
After discussing their situation with TimeFinders, Mr. and Mrs. H. decided to purchase a two-bedroomed apartment in a Retirement complex on the outskirts of a nearby village within walking distance of public transport, although the Retirement Village also has its own transport services to the neighbouring town and for excursions.
Having never been a gregarious couple, Mr. and Mrs. H. thought that they would keep very much to themselves in their new home but have unexpectedly and delightfully found other people with similar interests with whom they have made friends, sharing dinner parties and trips to the theatre. Mr. H. feels that when the inevitable happens and one of them dies, the surviving partner will be secure and settled in a home where they can stay for the rest of their days with friends around them and with whatever care support they need on hand.
“I thought a Retirement Village would be a perfectly ghastly place to spend my days but TimeFinders short-listed the apartment as part of their Property Finding service. Far from being a morbid place for the dead and the dying, this is a very vibrant village within a village, with good links to the local community making it a very interesting place to live. We are actually far more active than we have been for years – and I don’t mean being active endlessly mowing the lawn! The fact that our home is within a complex means that we can safely leave it for weeks at a time when we visit our sons in America. I don’t think I’d ever have even taken a look at it had we been finding our new home on our own, but I’m very glad we came here.”
2. Help finding a Care Home for a parent when living abroad
Mr. G lives and works in Europe and is an only child. His mother continued living in the family home after Mr. G’s father passed away ten years ago. Mrs. G. has been in good health apart from arthritis. Earlier in the year, Mrs. G. had a knee replacement operation which went very well but whilst she was recuperating, she fell and broke her hip, requiring an emergency hip replacement. Mrs. G. became very frail whilst in hospital for the second time and it was felt that she was no longer able to live alone.
Mr. G. asked TimeFinders to research suitable Care Homes in the area so that he didn’t have to waste time driving around the countryside during the brief times he was able to get home. TimeFinders short-listed two homes and provided Mrs. G. with a referral to a reputable independent financial adviser who is Later Life Accredited and qualified to give advice on Care Fee Planning. We also referred Mrs. G. and her son to a local solicitor specializing in the preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney.
In fact, such was the strength of Mrs. G.’s recovery that she decided that a Care Home was not required and is now in the process of moving to sheltered accommodation.
3. Moving closer to a family member
Mrs C. moved from her home where she had lived for over 30 years to live near her daughter and family 150 miles away.
“Quite frankly, I was dreading it but Alison helped me get started and to decide what I wanted and needed to take. She helped with the practical effort of going through all the cupboards and the bookcases, weeding out the things I didn’t need and didn’t have room for, helping me get rid of the bits of furniture I didn’t want.
There were things I hadn’t remembered I’d got, like my late husband’s wallet and my son’s scout neckerchief. Lots of memories, some of them sad, but it was lovely to chat about things as we came across them and make sure they were kept safely. Alison was really helpful in getting me to write down where some of the family furniture came from – I know my son will never remember but hopefully my grand-daughter will find the little book I prepared about it in the drawer of the sideboard one day.
With Alison helping me in getting everything organized, it was actually, surprisingly, quite enjoyable. I am eighty and, for the first time in my life, I actually feel sorted out! I have the things I really want to have around me and I have divested myself of the useless clutter of lifetime. I am somewhere comfortable where I don’t need to worry about the cost of keeping warm and, having taken this step whilst I am still able, I have joined the Church and the local W.I. and been invited to join a local book club. I think this is what people mean by a happy and active retirement!”
It wasn’t necessary to provide a full settling in and new location service because Mrs. C.’s family were on hand but, even so, being given a pack of forms to register to vote, applications for a library card, bus pass, GP registration etc. was very helpful, as was a list of meetings and contact details of the local Women’s Institute, Church Services and Fellowship Group.
4. Simon’s Story
I received the telephone call every Ex-Pat dreads… My parents had been taken ill and both were in hospital in London. My father was undergoing emergency brain surgery following a fall. My mother, eight years his junior, was detained in another hospital from which, in her confusion, she had already escaped twice and was now under a Deprivation of Liberty Order.
I leapt on the next available flight worried sick about what I was going to find when I landed and not knowing what on earth I was going to do about it. The situation was even worse than I feared. My mother’s confusion, which had been growing slowly but which my parents had struggled to conceal during my last visit, was now identified as Dementia. Social Services had got involved and stated that neither of my parents were able to live independently any more. They would only be discharged from hospital into a Care Home and Social Services were in the process of arranging for my mother to be sent to a specialist dementia unit and for my father to go to a completely different care home miles away from her. The thought that my parents would be forcibly separated after over fifty years of marriage was horrifying. I knew it would kill them to be apart.
I’d never been in a Care Home in my life and recent media coverage about shocking levels of care made me think I would be consigning both my parents to a living hell. I did not know what to do. By chance, my cousin had met Alison of TimeFinders some six months before and he suggested I contact her.
I can’t describe the relief I felt at that initial telephone call with her on a Saturday afternoon. Alison put in place an Emergency Care Home Research and Selection programme and took over liaison with Social Services and the two hospital discharge teams, who were phoning me several times each day to find out when they could have my parents’ beds – an additional pressure I could well do without.
When Alison and I met on the following Tuesday morning she had identified one of the very few facilities which would allow my parents to live together on a secured dementia unit and that had room to take them. She and I met my father in hospital and they discussed which pieces of furniture, china and artworks meant the most to my mother. Ten days later, Alison had set up an apartment in an excellent top-rated Care Home. It was like a home from home with the furniture and pictures laid out as closely as possible to reflect the layout of my parents’ old home. My mother, who had been exceedingly agitated and anxious throughout her enforced hospital stay, was immediately calmed and re-assured. She now thinks they have lived there for years and they both have settled into their new home remarkably well.
Alison became my single point of contact for everyone involved in getting my parents’ affairs sorted out. She recommended a superb financial adviser who has helped me to ensure that my parents can receive the best possible care until the end of their lives. Luckily my father had prepared Lasting Powers of Attorney but my mother’s dementia meant that she was unable to do this and so I had to apply to the Court of Protection to become her Deputy. Alison found an excellent firm of solicitors who undertook the application and worked with them to make sure that the process took as little time as possible.
Alison was there for me every step of the way smoothing out the inevitable glitches, keeping everyone on their toes, dealing with the banks and their tortuous procedures and supporting me when the frustration and bureaucracy became intolerable.
There were so many practical arrangements to make and TimeFinders took care of them all from organizing the dispersal of personal effects to family and friends and arranging for the remainder of my parents’ possessions to be sold, right through to the project management of the complete refurbishment of my parents’ London home and the organization of its sale.
Throughout all this, Alison has provided an Oversight Service for my parents, visiting them frequently, ensuring that they are happy and well-cared for and providing me with an objective professional assessment. Alison is the first emergency contact for the Care Home and, on a couple of occasions when my mother has needed to go into hospital, she has liaised with the medical teams, ensured that the hospital deals properly with a patient with dementia and kept me up to date with developments. Alison attends, on my behalf, the routine appointments with the Consultant Psychiatrist and liaises closely with the Community Psychiatric Nurse as my mother’s condition deteriorates.
My father, now fully recovered from surgery, faces the grief of watching his beloved wife succumb to dementia. Alison supports him, finds ways to alleviate his anxiety and keeps the Care Home working actively to give him the best quality of life possible. I come over to England as often as my work will allow and I am in daily telephone contact with my father but nothing can compare to having someone who really cares about my parents to be there in person, to sit and talk with my father, to engage with my mother as much as her dementia allows and to keep an independent eye on my parents’ care and well-being when I am in America. It gives me the reassurance and peace of mind I need.
I often sit here in Connecticut and ask myself how I could have done this without TimeFinders’ help. The simple answer is that I couldn’t. Alison has been a god-send and I am lucky to have met her. She is my hands, eyes, support and “go-to” person. I have no doubt in my mind that had it not been for TimeFinders, my parents would probably not be alive today.
Simon: Connecticut, USA 2013
Postscript November 2014
Simon’s mother’s dementia progressed rapidly and she passed away suddenly, but peacefully, with her husband by her side. Alison helped Simon and his father with all the arrangements and continued to support the family until after Simon’s father’s death some months later. She was honoured to be asked by Simon to give one of the readings at his father’s funeral.
5. Planned Advocacy Support
Mr. S.* appointed TimeFinders to be his Advocate after the death of his wife. They had been Health & Welfare Attorney for each other. They had no children and had not appointed replacement H&W Attorneys as they did not want ask any of their Godchildren or nieces or nephews to take on the responsibility.
Mr. S. was due to have replacement knee surgery and asked his TimeFinders Advocate to accompany him to his pre-operative consultations and to help him plan for his surgery and recuperation. We were able to help him reorganize his home to make a temporary bedroom on the ground floor and to install an emergency care alarm system. We were also able to liaise with his medical team both before and after his operation and to ensure that he had an appropriate care and rehabilitation plan for his discharge from hospital. TimeFinders was on hand to chase up his physiotherapy treatment and manage his domiciliary care team. Once Mr. S. was fully recovered, we were able to step back to our six-monthly visits, ready to help again when required in future.
“Someone who can help you every step of the way, a caring professional – your very own Guardian Angel”: N.T., Independent Financial Adviser, Surrey
*Identifying details have been changed and some situations conflated to protect our clients’ privacy.
6. Emergency Advocacy Support
TimeFinders had been providing a Continuing Support and Advocacy Service to Miss T.* for some years as her dementia progressed and had helped her move into the residential care home of her choice.
We received a call to say that Miss T. was in hospital. She had broken her pelvis for which the only treatment was pain relief and rest. Miss T. was ready for discharge from hospital but her care home refused to have her back because she now needed extra care which they could not provide.
Miss T. was extremely distressed in hospital. Her dementia meant that she didn’t understand where she was, she was in pain and she was frightened and upset by the noise and bustle. The hospital social services team were planning a Best Interests Panel to decide her future but this could not be arranged for another fortnight.
Within 24 hours TimeFinders had found a local specialist nursing home and had arranged an emergency care assessment. We sought and obtained approvals for this course of action from her former social worker, her GP and her Property and Financial Affairs Attorney. We then negotiated with the hospital social work team to allow Miss T.’s removal to an appropriate care setting whilst waiting for the formal Best Interests decision.
Forty-eight hours later, Miss T. was in her new bedroom with Radio 4 burbling quietly in the background, just as she had always liked it. All her distress had gone, and she was comforted, reassured, and calm. Miss T. received excellent pain management and tender care for the rest of her life.
“TimeFinders has been able to provide the very best service to vulnerable people at a very difficult time in their lives.”: A.P., Solicitor, Reading