Janet and Marion

Janet Baker describes her experience of finding a care home for her mother Marion Evans, who had suffered a stroke. Mrs Baker is a teacher who lives in Rugeley in the West Midlands.

“Mum has always been in really good health and when she suddenly had a stroke, it was panic stations for the whole family. The right side of her body was affected and at first she lost all speech and movement on that side. Mum spent 13 weeks in hospital then was moved to a specialist rehabilitation centre. After about eight weeks in rehabilitation, we were told mum had reached a plateau and were asked to find her a place in a care home.

“We were given no support – we were simply handed a thick book listing all the care homes in Birmingham. It listed every single home, including homes for children and people with special needs, so it was hard to tell which home would be right for Mum.

“I drew up a list of about 12 homes and checked their inspection reports on the internet. But every single home I called asked whether Mum was weight bearing. I didn’t understand exactly what they meant, but when I explained that mum needed a wheelchair and hoist, they all said they couldn’t take her.

“I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. Mum is a self-funder and we found that once we told social workers that she would be paying for her own care, they seemed to lose interest and offered no help. We felt under pressure to move mum from the rehabilitation centre but did not know where she could go. I was in contact with a friend whose mother had also had a stroke and she told me about Carehome Selection.

“By the time I called them, I was in despair. Tony at Carehome Selection picked up the phone, listened to all the problems I was having and said – ‘Don’t worry, we will sort it out for you’. For the first time, someone was prepared to listen and willing to support us through the whole process.

“I was then allocated an adviser, Julie. When we met, Julie asked about mum’s assessment of care needs. I didn’t know anything about this kind of assessment, but Julie explained everyone going into a care home needs to have one as a starting point. I also hadn’t realised that mum needed a nursing home and we had been looking at residential homes.

“Before I came into contact with Carehome Selection, no-one had explained what we needed and the things we had to consider in our choice. Mum had very specific needs – because she was not weight bearing, she needed to move to a nursing rather than residential home. But Mum had very good overall cognitive function and so we needed to find a home which combined both residential and nursing care, so she could be in an interesting and stimulating environment.

“Julie was a real lifesaver – she was always very calm, knowledgeable and went out of her way to help. When Mum needed to release some of her money to pay for care and this required a signature to be witnessed, we asked the staff in the rehabilitation centre but the response was no – ‘it’s more than my job’s worth’. We found a solicitor who was willing to be a witness but needed identity proof in order to do so. Julie came to the home at 7pm to collect the paperwork and took it to the solicitor the next day. It was above and beyond the call of duty and exactly what we needed.

“As I work as a supply teacher, it was really important that Julie was able to pick things up, make phone calls and be in contact with me outside school hours.

“Mum moved into Richmond Hall Care Home six months ago. We are very happy with the choice – it offers the nursing care and physiotherapy she needs but is more than a nursing home.

“I found the process of trying to find a care home confusing and very stressful indeed. I hope more people find out about Carehome Selection because it was a light at the end of the tunnel to finally find someone who was able to explain everything, sort things out and provide much needed support.”

C BARKER 12:31 pm