The Long Road Home

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past six months people will carelessly break promises and at a time when you need them the most, callously let you down.  Maybe we’ve lived in a cosseted world where my Dad has been our family’s moral compass always leading by example and providing help where he can. So it has been an education for me that neighbours and those we have long considered family friends have fallen by the wayside apart from when they call to enquire what we’ll be doing with his lawnmower, power tools or car.

I’ve discovered that the care the elderly and infirmed receive is a direct reflection of how deep their pockets are and in many cases woefully inadequate or just plain sub-standard. There is no instruction booklet on navigating the stormy waters of the social care system and you better grasp the jargon pretty quickly because not doing so will cost you dear. Having been cut adrift to find my Dad a residential placement we had a crash course on just how difficult this road can be for novices. This journey has been a revelation with moments of sheer despair, frustration, overwhelming hopelessness and countless sleepless nights. We have met less compassionate souls that truly have no business working within sectors where they encounter traumatized families and occasionally individuals that have been like bottled sunshine on a very dark day have crossed our paths.

What advice would I give those forced into a heart breaking journey of their own? I would tell them to use every resource at their disposal and then some. To fight even on the days when you feel you have nothing left and to never give up. We were made to feel that we were “difficult & problematic” for insisting on an acceptable standard of care and on occasion bullied into enduring something which fell way below. There is no doubt that the social care system fails many and for those fortunate to have a family prepared to challenge procedures the outcome can sometimes be very different than for those that don’t. I feel very strongly that the elderly have a right to dignity with care and when you have to deal with a system where policy becomes more important than the welfare of the most vulnerable in society then it’s time you reviewed it.

Nothing is ever just one phone call or just one email and sometimes making, what for others would be a straightforward appointment, takes weeks but more often than not, months. We all know that when you call a service provider it’s a bit of a lottery in terms of who answers the phone so imagine speaking with yet another dismissive jobs worth concerning a loved one’s welfare. Trying to hold down a job and manage my father’s affairs leaves little time for much else; my hair hasn’t been cut since December and I am badly in need of a dental appointment but that has had to wait as there are more pressing things on my ever-increasing agenda. My phone bill is nearly equivalent to the cost of a small car and I can’t remember the last time I have had a night out with friends. There are days when the sheer enormity of the task in hand becomes just a little overwhelming but I have come to realise that sometimes you just have to put down your sword and leave slaying dragons for another day.

So what keeps you going despite the constant rejections and refusals? Without a doubt it’s that smile from your Dad; the one you thought you’d never see again. The smile that says he’s safe at long last surrounded by compassionate people and that the hard fought battle was truly worth it. And so on a sunny day here in Devon you shed a tear and say a silent prayer of thanks knowing that he will now have the best possible care for the remainder of his days which my friends, is truly priceless.

The old fella with two of his favourite carers

The old fella with two of his favourite fabulous carers

29 thoughts on “The Long Road Home

  1. Well done to you for finding the right place for your beloved Dad. What a sweet smile! You must feel so relieved after all the stress you’ve been through. I hope you can now find some time for yourself. Sounds like you really need to have a fun night out with friends. Hugs to you. xx

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  2. well done guys! It shouldn’t be like this – I know how broken the system is from my own family’s experiences. So much of what was good and important within the overall welfare system has been systematically destroyed by the ruling elite. When the dozy people eventually wake up it will be too late!

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  3. Dear Dallas,
    Not everyone has family willing or savvy enough to know how to fight for them. I am SO glad you persevered in spite of the cost. The photo of your Dad, with his bright eyes and sweet smile, says it all.
    Hugs to your whole family,
    Naomi

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    • I couldn’t get him out of the other one quick enough but what saddens me is that most of the other residents there were in the advanced stages of dementia and that some people feel that’s an excuse for inadequate care even though most homes are paid a minimum of about £2000 per month to look after them

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      • It’s very sad. It helps if the attendants know that people who love their patient are watching and cares very much how he or she is treated, and be an active advocate, which you are.

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  4. My dear friend, your journey is not for the faint of heart. Every moment and every step taken becomes a testament to hope and love. As my 85-year-old mother says we chose our destiny with every decision. And your decision to persevere will produce amazing results. There will be a time to say goodbye, as I did with my father 5 years ago, but these precious years that you have with him, will sustain you going forward. “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.’ Rumi

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    • I know that I can put my hand on my heart and say that I do my best for the old fella and I think that deep down he knows that too as the most important thing for me is that he is well cared for and happy and I know that beyond any shadow of a doubt, he finally is.

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  5. Hurray! You succeeded after a long hard battle. Give yourself a little pat on the back, and so great to hear from you, Dallas! I knew you were in the deep end dealing with stuff, so glad he is in a good place!! Sending love from my most fabulous garden ever, wish he could see it. I think he would be amazed at what all I’ve managed to squeeze into a small space. xoxo Kaye

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  6. Dear Dallas,
    It is so great to hear from you, although I now do understand why it took you so long to get back to writing.
    You are absolutely right on all topics; I am really glad you found that great place for your dad to spend his days and judging by that smile he is happy and safe! Well done and now…
    Please go find some time for yourself and spend it with real friends, or have a girl’s night as that really is a great energy booster 🙂

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  7. Oh my dear friend…as if the stress of Dad’s health is not enough, to have to be put through the never ending battle of bureaucratic bullshit and incompetent, so-called, social workers, et al is almost unbearable to read, much less live through. But…as proven, you are your father’s daughter. You have persevered and come out on top, ready to continue the fight as long as you have breath. I’m so very glad you’ve managed to find him a safe and caring home, and whatever lies ahead still, at least that is one worry off your mind. That you can now sleep is wonderful, but take that next step and get some ‘me’ time into your schedule. Were I a bird that could fly the great pond, I’d be there in a heartbeat to give you whatever strength I possess…you’re in my heart and thoughts, as is the old dear. xoxoxo

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    • Hello lovely lady, I certainly feel that I’ve fought the good fight and I’m not out of the woods yet in terms of the social workers but bring it on as you said I am my father’s daughter and it is father’s day on Sunday so he gets to see me all weekend but secretly I think he’d rather be watching Euro 2016. Hope life is being kind to you x

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  8. My heart aches for what you and your family have been going through. It’s absolutely true that it shouldn’t be this way, but when you find a caring spot like you describe, it makes all the difference in the world. Hugs to you and yours. Hoping you manage to rest up and have some time for you soonest.

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  9. Sounds like this is a fight that is the same no matter which side of the pond you are on. I am so sorry it has been so difficult. I wish I could reach over and hug you.

    What a sweet smile, so worth the fight. So glad you have found someplace worthy of your father, safe for him.

    Rest now, even if just a little bit better.
    ❤ ❤ ❤

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  10. Pingback: Lazy Sunday #14 | Paula Acton

  11. So glad you were able to find your father a wonderful place with caring people. It truly makes ALL the difference. We’ve had to do a search several times — the stress levels it creates is off the charts. Some how I thought outside of the US it would be better — better options, easier process, less money driven?

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