So what’s the plan?

After  leaving your bay I ask to talk with one of the doctors. I need to get a sense of what the plan is.

Q1. Your plaster cast has been taken off because you picked at it so much you took it off twice. So they have given up on that and replaced it with a fabric futura splint. If you can wiggle your way out of a plaster cast surely you will just keep taking the splint off? So what is the plan re the fracture?

Q2. After nearly 3 weeks of waiting how long will it be before a place in residential care becomes available. These temporary places are meant to free up hospital beds for people in plaster casts but this system doesn’t seem to be working.

Q3. The only reason you are not going home is because of concern about your lapses into confusion. What is being done about this while you sit and wait and what is the plan going forward.

He is really nice, listens actively but has no answers as he has only recently rotated onto the ward. He says he will find out more so that when I return after lunch we can have a more informed discussion.

Changing clothes.

I drive to your house, empty the bags of jumbled washing onto your kitchen floor and look at the soiled slippers. What do I do with these? They aren’t even yours. You arrived in an emergency with nothing other than what you went shopping in and were given help, care and emergency hospital slippers. My pricking conscience says ‘you can’t throw these away, what a wicked waste.’ My heart says ‘just bin them’ – they represent something other than a precious resource worthy of recycling.

I smile as I look at your washing machine. You’ve placed stickers over the complicated buttons to remind you, and now me, which ones to press. Thank you! First load in and on to the hand washing. A rush to get everything washed and dried in time to get back to the hospital for visiting.

My mobile rings and it’s the hospital telling me not to bother coming back as, in the last hour, a place has become available and you are being transferred to the POP bed. But I’ve got all your clothes I say. The sister assures me you will be fine being transferred in your nightie and dressing gown. I know otherwise and remember that angry raging woman who greeted me a couple of hours ago. What will you be thinking now? How will you be making sense of this sudden change in circumstance? No warning just the fact that someone will turn up and take you somewhere neither of us know about.

Is this a beacon of hope in your world of despair or yet another sign of your world unravelling? Have you been persuaded that this will take you one step nearer to home or is this the ultimate form of betrayal – you are going into a home? We have been waiting 3 weeks for this half way house to come up and at least you will be out of hospital. I pack a different suitcase in the knowledge that your uniform is about to change. No longer one of nightclothes and dressing gowns but proper clothes. A sense of order will return to your daily ritual, get up and get dressed sit at a table for meals.

I look the home up and tell myself that its bound to look better in real life. I read the CQC report, hmmm. The sign says nursing home and dementia care home. Well, maybe dementia care is just a small part of what they do. However yet again it’s a long way from your home, probably even further than the hospital. The likelihood of visitors is even more remote.

Your new home

When I arrive at the home I ring the bell and no one comes, and again, and again. I walk round the outside looking for a side entry but of course it’s designed to keep people in so there is no open garden or door. A workman comes out and I manage to get in.  Are the strips of hazard tape on the worn wooden floor a sign? He goes off to find someone, I explain who I am and am taken up to your room. The lift is one of those old ones with a metal grill that you pull across. There is just room for the two of us and your suitcase. Your on the second floor, the dining room is in the basement. They are in the middle of giving out medication and I’m told someone will come back and talk to me when they’ve finished.

I sit on the chair in your room with a sinking heart. Look for the positives. ‘Yay’, it’s your own room and you don’t have to share and ‘yay’ again you have your own bathroom. The small window at the end of the room looks out over countryside.

But let’s be honest here that isn’t really what is going through my head. Stifling, overpowering heat, small dark room, no television, no telephone, no clock, no calendar. Heavy spring on the door leading to the landing and the grilled door on the lift. No other signs of life and the constant ringing of call buttons. You are going into solitary confinement unless you choose to sit in a day room or go down for meals. There’s no way that you can come and go as you please as you won’t be able to work the lift on your own or the 4 flights of stairs should you want to. This wasn’t the picture I had in mind when I imagined where you might be transferred to.

Someone comes back to talk with me for a few minutes and my hope rests with how lovely the staff I have met are. Forget the surroundings and focus on them. They know what they are doing. I wait, and wait for you and am told it could be several hours before you arrive. I’m told in the past it has been up to 9pm. so eventually I give up and drive home.

I try to imagine what you are feeling. When I get home I phone and am told that you’ve arrived safely and are having some sandwiches before you go to bed. I call the next day and you are on top form. Phew.

The questions I had for the doctor? No, they never got answered and now there are more added to the list. Who is your key worker now? What is the plan now you are in social care? Who do I contact to find out? Is this really how it is meant to be?