Stephanie Morris describes the service CHS Healthcare provided for her husband, Jhon
Stephanie Morris explains why families need dedicated support when they face emotional and often overwhelming decisions about finding a care home for a loved one
My husband John had vascular dementia and ended up going in and out of hospital for six months. I had been caring for him at home, but our doctor explained that John’s condition had deteriorated so much that I wouldn’t be able to cope with him at home any more.
John was in Bath Hospital at the time and the staff kept asking me if I had found a care home for him. I understood the situation – once someone doesn’t need hospital treatment any more, they should move out of that bed. But I couldn’t do it – John and I had been married for 53 years. I loved him dearly and was absolutely devastated by what was happening to him. I didn’t know where to start and I just couldn’t put him into a home.
After visiting John in hospital one day, I went home and was sitting on the stairs, crying my eyes out. At that moment, the phone rang and the lady who called explained her name is Jackie and she had been asked to help me find a care home. She was lovely and I felt very comfortable talking to her straight away. She asked whether there were any care homes I knew of and liked. She also asked whether I had my own transport. I don’t and so Jackie said she would look up the bus routes and make sure I could easily get to any care homes we looked at.
The care home I had thought of was very nice but wasn’t suitable for John because they couldn’t manage the severity of his dementia. Jackie quickly came up with another suggestion. I asked her if I needed an appointment to go and visit and she said I could go whenever I liked. My sister-in-law was with me at the time and said – come on, let’s go now. I liked the fact that we could go at any time – the home were being open and we could see what it is really like, rather than having an appointment. I thought the home was lovely – the first person I saw was my old family doctor who was a resident there and I felt sure it would be the right place for John.
His room had a large window overlooking allotments and he had his own wet room and toilet. It was the right place for him to be – so much better than hospital. John died just two days after moving in and even though he was there for such a short time, it was so important that he spent his last days in a comfortable home, rather than on a hospital ward. I will always be grateful for that.
Jackie was a godsend. I knew that I couldn’t care for my husband at home any longer and that hospital wasn’t the right place for him. But I just couldn’t find a care home on my own – until Jackie came along, I just shut it out of my mind. When someone you love is very ill in hospital, your whole life is shaped by that – visiting them, helping them to eat, being with them as much as possible. I am also the carer for my disabled son. You don’t feel able to do or to think about anything else, but when Jackie came along, she helped me to take the steps I couldn’t take on my own.
It was all very quick. From our first phone conversation to John moving into the care home, it took just three days and it was a good thing that we were able to organise things quickly, as John had so little time left. Jackie never made me feel under pressure – she just made it easier for me to make decisions and move things along. She has worked as a nurse and so understands everything very well and it is clear that she loves her job and helping people in this way.
I hope many other people will benefit from the same sort of support as me. It is very much needed – finding a care home was something that I simply couldn’t do without this special and very caring support.”