So: I’ve accepted that I can no longer cope as mum’s carer. After three years, with her increasing needs and my own deteriorating health, I’ve decided mum has to move into permanent care – not just because of the work load but also because I’m facing surgery with a fairly extended recovery period.
Living as a resident in a care home will eat into mum’s capital quite quickly. When the money’s gone, the local council are supposed to help. I decided to give the Adult Services Department a call. I wanted to find out if there was anyhing I needed to sort out beforehand. The answer was not what I expected.
The Bureaucrat I spoke to asked if mum owned her own home. Yes, she does. And, asked Mr Bureaucrat, does she want to move into a care home? Well, I began, she’s not too keen on the idea obviously but I can no longer manage her. Without asking anything further about mum’s situation he started to speak to me in the most offensive way. ‘We encourage people to stay in their own home as long as possible! We offer support and advice to allow your mother to do that!’ I was taken aback. I said it was a shame all this support and advice had not been given to me three years earlier when, exhausted by trying to manage mum from afar, I had given up my home in London to move down here. Well, sneered Bureaucrat, that’s your own fault for not trying to find out.
I pointed out that, if mum did stay at home with paid carers, (which would be neither safe nor sensible) I’d have nowhere to live. I also mentioned that I’m facing surgery. In the most contemptuous and dismissive tone of voice, the Bureaucrat told me to ring the Housing Department to see if they could rehouse me. Although he didn’t think that likely as I hadn’t lived in the area for five years. I was stunned. There was no acknowledgement that the reason mum is still in her own home is entirely due to my selfless decision to become a carer.
The fact that I’ve kept her out of a residential home for three extra years was dismissed as irrelevant. I said to Mr Bureaucrat: My friends told me I was stupid to move down here, but I told them, no, it’s the right thing to do. Now I can see that they were right. It was really stupid. I should have left mum alone and at risk; although if I had, she’d probably be dead.
The truth is, even the best of the Agency Carers don’t do everything perfectly. If I wasn’t here to oversee things, ‘project manage’ the situation as it were, things would go downhill quite fast. No matter if mum had paid carers 24 hours a day – which would cost a huge sum of money – someone would still need to be responsible for her:- make sure the carers are doing their job properly; ring the doctor if needs be; sit with her if she has a fall; order her medication; organize the incontinence pads delivery (a real hassle!) and, indeed, make sure the bills are paid, food bought, clothes washed etc etc etc
This is the flaw in the Bureaucratic Argument: the council still requires a third party to be involved. That’s what’s so hypocritical. They addressed their promised information about support and advice to me, not to mum. (It contained nothing that I didn’t know already, by the way!). Ergo, they would still expect me to arrange everything – after which, presumably, I’d make myself homeless! But if I no longer look after mum, who’s going to step up to the plate? The Agency Carers? My brother who lives 3 hours drive away? The Bureaucrats? I don’t think so.
It’s all about cost cutting, of course. the Bureaucrats and their mates the Accountants look at life in accountancy terms: and a full-time, live in unpaid carer suits them very well. But when a carer reaches the end of their tether, the Bureaucrats refuse to acknowledge that, because it will be less cost-effective. The personal cost to the carer isn’t quantifiable.
My brother, our regular Agency Carers, the local GP, everyone who meets her, can see that mum couldn’t manage alone at home. Someone else would need to be involved. Even though I got upset after this conversation…. ‘I’m going back to London! Let’s see how well she’d cope with some paid carers!’ I can’t actually walk away. It wouldn’t be responsible. The only option is to make sure she’s safe and happy in a residential home.
But when all’s said and done, the Bureaucrat didn’t need to speak to me in such an insulting and dismissive tone of voice! He could have presented things in a polite and sympathetic way. But it’s not all bad. Now I know how the Bureaucrats think, if I have to deal with them again in the future, I’ll be prepared.