I have been caring for my wife for three years. During the past two years mainly because of her mobility problems, arising from a fall in our home which resulted in a broken hip, wrist, broken upper arm near the shoulder and a dislocated collar-bone. An emergency operation followed, then a few weeks in a rehabilitation centre near our home, followed physiotherapy at home. All seemed well and progress was being made until the pain increased in the upper arm and mobility decreased there. A subsequent scan revealed that one of the two nails pinning her arm together had moved. That was September 2017.

Eventually, an operation to replace her shoulder was scheduled for February this year. When we turned up for the op, the surgeon decided not to go ahead because my wife had acute facial dermatitis. Since then. we having been waiting for a new date and several pre-op assessments later it has arrived, 2 January 2019.

During the past few months, it has been noticed by our GP and the District Nurse who calls each week to monitor my wife’s eczema, that I and my wife are getting increasingly fractious with each other. And I must confess that I am very tired and of course, my wife is in a lot of pain. The only respite we have is when some old friends call round and while I go out for a couple of pints, my pal’s wife keeps my lady company and is prepared to help her with her personal needs. Anyway, arrangements were made for a Social Worker to call round. A detailed assessment was done, very professionally, and the offer of respite care for my wife followed. We were given a choice of three places. One was too far away and was immediately rejected. The second I discovered during a few minutes online was a matter of concern for the Care Quality Commission. Lots of problems. I visited the third and was impressed by the staff and the general ambience but none of the rooms had en-suite bathrooms, essential for my wife. So I told the Social Worker that we were not going ahead.

After accepting what I said, ten minutes later she came back with the offer of a place for ten days where my wife had undergone the rehab last year. So we snapped up the offer, as my lady had been happy there. The arrangement was that we would pay 25% of the cost, about £140 a week to us. No problem.

So I took my lady there. But we discovered that she was not to stay where she had been before, on the first floor of this building, but on the ground floor - a care home for permanent residents, who could no longer look after themselves at home, because they had some form of dementia. That I discovered the following day when I went to visit. My wife was very unhappy - there was nobody with whom she could communicate. I discussed the situation with the lady in charge and she agreed my wife was in the wrong place if she was looking for social interaction. The Social Worker had got it wrong, although doing her best to be helpful. After one night away, I brought my wife back home, where she feels more comfortable. We may have rows, but at least we are talking to each other.

Was I wrong? Are we being ungrateful? Are all care homes populated by folks who are unable to interact normally? I don’t know and feel vaguely guilty but I am not sure why.

Hi Alan, welcome to the forum.

Did the social worker do a Needs Assessment for your wilfe, and a Carers Assessment for you?
It sounds like you have both been together far too long, even the most devoted couples need time to do their own thing.

Sometimes, nursing homes don’t have en suites because en suites tend to be small, whereas their patients need support to go to the bathroom, and so it’s better to have a larger bathroom with space for a wheelchair and staff either side of the toilet pan. Did anyone explain this to you?

Thanks for your response. I don’t know what kind of assessment it was - just the conclusion, that we needed time apart. The place which did not have en-suite rooms did have very well-equipped bathrooms along the corridors, but I am not sure that would have worked for my wife. When help is needed, response times are important.

Her problem in the place where she did stay, but only for 24 hours, was the inability to interact with other patients, all of whom had some form of dementia. Sadly, she knew a couple of them from her church, but they didn’t know her, so she was very unhappy.

Hi Alan,

A proper assessment should have resulted in a WRITTEN COPY being given to each of you, so if you don’t know, presumably you were not given these?! You should also have been told the full cost of what was being suggested, with the option of being given the money to sort something out yourselves. I have a real problem with social workers who don’t do their jobs properly, having cared for a total of ten relatives in the last 40 years. They are not there to be friends, they are there to do their (well paid) jobs properly.

So write to Social Services, and ask for a written copy of your assessments (so they have to admit none were done) and then ask for them to be updated, as the placement was unsuitable.

I fully understand the points that you are making. It was clearly the wrong placement for your wife. What you now need to do is some homework to find a place which IS suitable. Go to the Care Quality Commission website, identify the homes neares to you that meet the basic criteria, and then start making phone calls for brochures etc.

Thank you for your advice. We did not receive a written copy of the assessment and I did not realise that we should receive one.

I will do as you suggest and look into this further,

Thanks for your help.

Alan, one of the biggest problems carers have is getting the help which they are entitled to.

Have a look round the forum, and you will see that although our posts relate to people of all ages with all kinds of disabilities, there is often something relevant to your own situation.

If you go to “Quick Links” above, you can view the posts in different ways.

Hi Alan
Time to oneself need not mean your wife has to go into residential Home. She could have Carers at home so you can go away. And that could be regular short times so you can have a few hours or a half day a week or for the odd week or weekend away occasionally.

If your wife is self funding you can arrange this yourself. You only need involve the council if they are funding, fully or partially