I’m not asking for help because I know there is no longer anything anyone can do for us. Today, I realised I must finally accept the inevitable, and just watch my mum deteriorate and die in the care home they have dumped her.
We have always shared a home together. I am an only child without any other family. Mum, despite her arthritis and osteoporosis, was a sprightly 96 yr old, walking indoors with her frame, and being cared for by me, 24/7. She receives intensive private physio on a regular basis from an accredited medical facility a few doors up the road from us.
When the country went into lockdown earlier this year, mum was unable to be visited by her therapist. She lapsed with her exercises and, on July 24, her right leg became stiff and began to give way as I helped her out of the bathroom. I tried to stop her from slowly sinking to the floor, but I hadn’t the strength to keep her upright. She didn’t fall, but she ended up on the floor.
To cut a long story short, she’d landed in a bad position and fractured the part just beneath her right knee replacement. She was put into a full plaster cast and admitted into our local general hospital. 3 weeks later, she was discharged and admitted to a rehabilitation hospital within our London Borough. Unfortunately, her time there was wasted. Being totally immobilised by the cast, she spent most of the next weeks lying on her back in bed! Then came her discharge date. There was the usual ‘best interests meeting’ where it was decided that mum could return home with a hospital bed and hoist in her bedroom.
We live in an original hayloft above what was once 2 stables in a Victorian coach yard. Our rooms are tiny. Mum’s bedroom is the smallest. No way could a hospital bed fit in there! Their solution? Put the bed in the living room!!! When I argued both the impossibility and absurdity of this, I was threatened, intimidated, and humiliated by the ward manager at the rehab unit. I made a formal complaint about her.
As the bed and hoist were out of the question, mum was put in an ‘interim care placement’. She waited 48hrs to be moved there while someone had messed up the transport. She became agitated and confused as a result. By the time they moved her into the care home (after 9pm that day) she was in total denial as to where she now was. Covid restrictions prevented me from visiting her and, week by week, she became more confused, depressed, and refusing to eat. She had now been in a cast for over 8 weeks. She missed some 4 appointments at the Fracture Clinic as the transport was always messed up! Finally they removed the cast, but put her leg into a brace instead. She stayed like that for another 4 weeks. One Friday evening, she suddenly began acting strangely. Next thing I knew, she’d ended up back at the general hospital suffering from extreme dehydration and delirium! They put her on fluids and she recovered. Her brace was removed about a week later. I received a call from the hospital suggesting ‘mum could do with some physio and rehab’. I agreed. So back she went to the special physio & rehab hospital! Trouble there was, she received hardly any physio whatsoever! Each time I visited her, she was slumped in a wheelchair. When I rang her each day, she was forever ‘lying on her back unable to move’!
Once again, her discharge date came around. There was another ‘special interests’ meeting via Teams. Yes, her fracture had healed well, yes, she was clinically fully weight bearing, and she was to be discharged last Thursday, December 10. She could return home at last … with a hospital bed in the living room!!! They had now conceded such an arrangement was beyond the dimensions of her bedroom, so, the living room it had to be!!! We were back to the old argument! We’d been in a very similar position about 3 years ago when mum was actually still encased in a leg brace. No one so much as mentioned a hospital bed then! I had cared for her with the help of district nurses after the hospital had kindly left her with a Grade 2 pressure ulcer, which became a Grade 4 in days! When the brace was removed, a neighbour introduced us to the physio practice down the road. We learned that, among other things, they specialised in physio & rehab for the elderly. Just 2 intense sessions later, mum was up and walking with a frame, unaided!
Which finally brings us up to date. Without even informing me, and totally against both our wishes, mum was removed from the rehab unit and dumped back into the care home she was in previously! They proclaim she hasn’t the mental capacity to make her own decisions! I, as her daughter and official carer, mean nothing and have no say whatsoever! She is denied receiving her private physio because she cannot return home. The practice owner confirmed that the hospital bed was unnecessary and has been in discussion with the social worker. Mum’s GP has also tried to suggest a workaround but, to this moment in time, I’ve heard nothing further. I telephoned the social worker twice, late this afternoon, and left messages. Either he’s been out or, more likely, is now avoiding me. Mum needed to be home for Christmas. She told me, when I rang her this evening, that she will die at the place she’s in. She was crying so much until she could no longer speak.
It looks as if this is the end for her, and of me too. How has it come to this? Is THIS in her ‘best interests’? In my care, she has never come to any harm. My love for her cannot be described in words. I must now stand by and watch her deteriorate and die. But for a hospital bed, our lives as mother and daughter (plus the 3 pets!) is over. We are beyond help, but thanks for listening.