Mother-in-Law hates her care home

Hi, Happy New Year to you All,
I was writing here about my Mother-in-Law’s move to a care home. She is 94, and has brain bleeding, mobility problems, and memory problems. It would be therefore very hard for me and my Husband to look after her at her own home. My OH has managed so far with 1 carer visit in the mornings but with a lot of difficulties, tensions, and uncertainty as MIL’s condition has been worsening. MIL has a strong belief that her family should look after her. At the same time, she is negative, pessimistic, and critical.
Shortly after Christmas, she moved straight from the hospital to a care home. My OH visits her every day. But she hates the place. Not sure if there are any genuine problems with carers, my husband discussed all MIL’s complaints with the Manager. But MIL said she wants to go back to hospital. She liked it more than the care home. And she actually was taken to hospital yesterday because she caught a bad chest infection. She improved a little on IV antibiotics and oxygen and she restarted her fight for going back to her own home. She cries, and she is angry with us for not looking after her. She wants to talk to her social worker. I have no idea if she is in the capacity to decide on her care. She is about to have her mental capacity assessment done in a few days or weeks.
I’m sorry for her. It must be very hard to be unable to go back to your own home. But this is so nerve-wrenching for all of us, especially for my husband. We thought we would have some rest and relief when she moves to a home but it does not look like it.

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Hi Jolanta,
it is. very early days then. She has hardly been in the home anytime at all. Others on here with experience of this, will say it takes many months for someone to settle into a care home.

I suspect she’d rather be in hospital as she thinks it’s more likely she’d go home from there.

She didn’t sound very happy in her own home either. I seem to recall she would really have liked your husband to move in with her as her 24/7 carer - which is totally unrealistic.

Out of interest, what did the manager say about MIL, how she was the you weren’t all visiting and about her settling in etc

What do you think the outcome of her mental capacity assessment will be?

If it is decided she has the mental capacity to decide and that she can go home; then this is the point that your husband needs to stand firm and insist he can’t carry on with caring and will only visit once a day or whatever and that she needs four care visits a day from paid carers.

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Hi Jolanta, If you and your husband are to have any life together, then you must stand firm now. She’s been pulling your strings for far too long. Now, at the end of her life, she is going through the “what if…” stage, if she had stayed in her home land, her house, her care home, her hospital then … The reality is that she is very near the end, to frail to live at home, and you will NEVER be able to please her.
If she asked you both to jump over the moon, and you did, even that wouldn’t make her happy.

Thank you for your reply.
I’m not sure how MIL behaves when my husband is not with her at the care home. Thank you for your idea to ask this question.
I know these are early days at the care home. But MIL has had at-home carers for 6 months and never really accepted them. She may fight her battle to the very end because she has always had problems trusting people. Her age aggravates that. I’m so sorry for her.
I’m at a stage where I dread any thought about us going back to square one so MIL is back at her own house and us being 24/7 on call, checking up on her, not being able to leave the town for more than 4 hours at a time… MIL’s move to the care home brings a feeling of guilt but it also brings relief that we don’t need to worry about her having a fall or overdosing her meds, and we can plan days out together.
I have no idea about the outcome of her mental capacity assessment. However, it looks like she doesn’t realise how much care she needs. She says: I will hire somebody but I cannot imagine her making calls, interviewing potential carers, (memory problems, hearing problems) even with somebody’s support, namely my husband’s. She thinks she can invite “a student from Poland” as it used to be in the past when people from communist Poland worked for very low pay and half-illegally.

Thank you very much as always for your reply. Harsh truth but the truth.

I expect you guessed, we had someone in the family who was impossible to please. We tried to please him for years. One year he said he wanted a particular model car for Christmas. I searched all the model shops in the area, to no avail. On Christmas Day, I said sorry, I’d been to all the model shops in the area, we just couldn’t find it anywhere. He said “I know, I’ve been to them myself, but they just don’t make it, I thought I’d give you something to do”. I was secretly absolutely furious, permanently tired, no respite available for my son with severe learning difficulties, but I guessed that he just wanted me to lose my temper, so I didn’t give him that satisfaction. In fact, I’ve only lost it twice in 40 years! However, I got my own back. He always said he didn’t like cheesecake, which everyone else loved. One day, I made a Pineapple Cheesecake, knowing that like me he liked citrus flavours. Only I called it Pineapple Fluff. I told his long suffering wife. So when I produced it, we all waited to see his reaction. He liked it so much that he had a second helping. It was all the rest of us could do to keep a straight face!!! However, I didn’t want to fall out or score points with anyone, the day of the car incident I gave up trying to please him ever again, and he lost out on a lot as a result.


Oh, you must have been really furious, no doubt about it.
Yes, it has always been difficult to please MIL. Even if my husband or I succeed in something, she would say something nice at first but some time later it would be like: “It’s nothing that you have done, why don’t you do more [here comes her own idea of what you should do].”

Hi Jolanta

I seem to remember you posted on the old forum about how difficult your MIL can be. Right now she’s feeling powerless. She can’t control care staff the same way she could (or thought she could) you and your husband, so she’s angling to guilt trip you into getting her back home.

I can only advise against it. I think you realise already what that would do to you both, and the best bet is to give her time to get used to the idea that here she is, and is likely to remain. If social workers were involved in the decision, then they will certainly be reviewing things in a couple of weeks, and you need to be clear with the social worker that there is no way you can provide the care. Otherwise you’ll find yourself back in the mess you were in a few months back. That means your husband need to make sure you’re in contact with the social worker as soon as possible, especially if they haven’t spoken to you yet.


Hi Charles
Thank you for your reply.
I think MIL’s social worker is aware of our position. She was not trying to push for MIL to get back home, she found a care home for MIL quite promptly. She said she would arrange for a mental capacity assessment in a couple of weeks. It might happen later as MIL is still at hospital. Maybe she requires a higher level of care at the care home because, for example, it is very difficult to keep her hydrated unless somebody prompts her to drink. This might have been one of the reasons for her recent infection and lower kidney function. I know proper drinking is an issue with a lot of elderly people.

It was a problem with my Mum. She was never a big one for hydration, but got progressively worse over recent years to the point where she was constantly having infections.

I suspect that dehydration may be the concern raised by her GP to the Coroner last week, but I won’t find out for certain until tomorrow.

Just to let you know, Mother-in-Law’s social worker is waiting with the mental capacity assessment until MIL is medically fit. She is still at hospital with an infection, her kidneys not functioning properly, and a high heart rate. I write about it so other carers can see what the process may look like.


Thanks for the update.

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Another update.
Mother-in-Law still at hospital under a 72-hour observation but they want to discharge her “soon”. Meanwhile, the social worker wants to end care home placement as MIL at the hospital and she doesn’t want to go back there. My husband found another home, much more expensive but it feels like it’s better. But - surprise surprise - the SServices’ guidelines and budget have changed so they want MIL to go to a Council-led different home, 40 mins drive from where we live and labelled by the CCC as “requires improvement”. The media coverage of the recent events at this home is… well… not encouraging. It is all getting complicated I’m afraid. Do you have any ideas or advice? My husband would stick with the more expensive home he has found (it was suggested by SServices a few weeks ago but not now). Of course, MIL may not like this one but at least it’s closer to our place and has a better reputation.

The council MUST respect her Human Right to a “normal family life”. You will find more about this in the NHS Continuing Healthcare Framework. The principle must be applied - whether or not CHC is involved. This is just the easiest place to see the guidelines.

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Today doctors at the hospital suggested palliative care for my MIL. She keeps having repeated infections, now again on a drip and temporarily on oxygen but otherwise she is alert, eating, walking with support and talking sense, except periods of confusion from time to time. The option to go to a care home is still open. I’m thinking about questions that should be asked. What does it mean “palliative care” for infections? I know that with cancer you usually withdraw any chemo/radio therapy except to manage symptoms. But what does it mean for infections, frailty, and being underweight? Withdrawal of antibiotics? No more hospital admissions? Of course, we will ask all these questions at the hospital but maybe you have some ideas or experience with palliative care? The doctors stressed this was not “end of life” care. Not yet, but maybe further down the line.
Thank you.

With palliative care they will treat the infection but the principal aim is to make her comfortable. But it depends on the situation, so it’s best to ask for an explanation from the doctors.


Jolanta, has anything been settled now?

Thank you for asking. Nothing sorted out yet, MIL is still at the hospital, and her infection is clearing but they want to discharge her soon and probably provide palliative care if infections come back. Social services are looking for a new care home but assessments need to be done first. That takes time. For us this is a quiet time, MIL seems to be more at peace with where she is now. No idea if she accepts the new place.

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Ask for a meeting prior to discharge. Make brief summary notes. At the meeting discuss details that are related to her discharge. During the face to face meeting also find out what support is available post discharge.

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My Mother-in-Law passed away peacefully this morning at hospital. We loved her as much as we could.

Thank you very much for all the understanding and support I got from the wonderful carers I met on this forum.