Clive Field explains why support from CHS Healthcare was essential for his self-funding father who moved to a nursing home out of the area where he was living.
“Dad is 98 and up until last December, he was still living independently at home in Wiltshire. Then he had a couple of bad falls the latter of which led to his hospitalisation for acute care. This knocked his confidence and his ability to make decisions declined dramatically. He returned home but almost immediately was found wandering in the streets, which was the final straw. It was clear that he couldn’t manage on his own any more. Dad ended up in Bath Hospital for two weeks for medical assessment and I needed to move him directly into a nursing home from hospital as quickly as possible.
I’m used to being able to sort things out in life, but this was something I felt wholly unprepared for. I didn’t know anything about the funding system, I wasn’t sure what level of care my father needed or how to go about selecting a care home. Of course, there is a lot of information online, indeed too much to aid a quick decision. Most importantly I needed to pick a home that would be right for my dad but it is difficult to know what individual care home practices, procedures and standards are really like from looking at websites. I started to collect heaps of information but was feeling very overwhelmed by it all.
My father is self-funding and there was the added complication that we needed to find a care home out of the area where he lived and was receiving NHS services. We wanted to find somewhere that would make it as easy as possible for family members to visit Dad. That meant we were looking for him to move from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, where he lived and find somewhere close to Oxford, which would be equidistant to our homes.
When I talked about finding a place in Oxfordshire, I was met by blank looks – people didn’t seem to know how to help. Being self-funding, we fell into a gap in terms of advice and support. It was particularly difficult because at the time, my wife was attending outpatient appointments at a stroke unit and I needed to be with her as well as helping my father. Then a hospital social worker put me in touch with CHS Healthcare, a company that had just been commissioned to provide a new service.
It was a huge relief when I was told – yes, we can definitely help. I had identified one care home and they quickly came up with three others. My CHS Healthcare adviser found and checked through the Care Quality Commission reports for the homes and from those reports, suggested questions I may wish to raise. Two of the homes were well presented but didn’t provide care to match my father’s needs. My CHS adviser explained that as my father has Alzheimer’s, it is important to consider how his care needs may change over time. She explained about end of life care, which I was aware of but had not understood how it varies in terms of what different homes provide. I needed to provide long-term stability for my father who cannot cope with any changes to his routines; without the advice of my CHS adviser I might easily have chosen a home that may have left him needing a subsequent move.
The support I received from my adviser was very practical – I knew that I could get good advice from her quickly, whenever I needed it. I knew she would call me back every time and that she was working away behind the scenes, sourcing information, answering my questions. With her help, I was able to choose a nursing home for Dad and arrange transfer within a week. Doing it on my own, I would have got there eventually, but it would have taken at least one more week and quite possibly much longer.
Hospital transport had been arranged to take Dad to the nursing home, but an hour before he was due to leave, I got a call from the hospital to say there was not sufficient funding to move patients out of area. As I live in Cambridgeshire, it was impossible for me to reach Bath quickly and take Dad myself. So I called a CHS adviser and within an hour, she had identified some funding and made all the arrangements to transport Dad to his new home.
He has settled in quickly and very happily. The hospital had been too busy an environment for him. He became withdrawn and unresponsive, bewildered by what was going on around him; it was extremely important that he didn’t spend any more time there than necessary.
Considering my father’s age, finding care was something that I knew I would have to do. What I was not prepared for was how quickly the situation became a crisis and how little I knew about how to move forward selecting and funding suitable care for my dad.
I do also feel there is a gap in terms of the support and advice out there for self-funders. I am extremely grateful that Dad lived in an area where this service was available and for the wonderful and much-needed support that I received.”