I received the telephone call every Ex-Pat dreads. My parents had been taken ill and both were in hospital in London. My father, who was 96, was undergoing emergency brain surgery following a fall. My mother, eight years his junior, was detained in another hospital from which, in her confusion, she had already escaped twice and was now under a Deprivation of Liberty Order.
I leapt on the next available flight worried sick about what I was going to find when I landed and not knowing what on earth I was going to do about it. The situation was even worse than I feared. My mother’s confusion, which had been growing slowly but which my parents had struggled to conceal during my last visit, was now identified as Dementia. Social Services had got involved and stated that neither of my parents were able to live independently any more. They would only be discharged from hospital into a Care Home.
I’d never been in a Care Home in my life and recent media coverage about shocking levels of care made me think I would be consigning both my parents to a living hell. I did not know what to do. By chance, my cousin had met Alison of TimeFinders some six months before and he suggested I contact her.
I can’t describe the relief I felt at that initial telephone call with her on a Saturday afternoon. Alison put in place an Emergency Care Home Research and Selection programme and took over liaison with the two hospital discharge teams who were phoning me several times each day to find out when they could have my parents’ beds – an additional pressure I could well do without.
When Alison and I met on the following Tuesday morning she had identified one of the very few facilities which would allow my parents to live together on a secured dementia unit and that had room to take them. She and I met my father in hospital and they discussed which pieces of furniture, china and artworks meant the most to my mother. Ten days later, Alison had set up an apartment in an excellent, top rated Care Home. It was like a home from home with the furniture and pictures laid out as closely as possible to reflect the layout of my parents’ old home. My mother, who had been exceedingly agitated and anxious throughout her enforced hospital stay, was immediately calmed and re-assured. She now thinks they have lived there for years and they both have settled into their new home remarkably well.
Alison became my single point of contact for everyone involved in getting my parents’ affairs sorted out. She recommended a superb financial adviser who has helped me to ensure that my parents can receive the best possible care until the end of their lives. Luckily my father had prepared Lasting Powers of Attorney but my mother’s dementia meant that she was unable to do this and so I had to apply to the Court of Protection to become her Deputy. Alison found an excellent firm of solicitors who undertook the application and worked with them to make sure that the process took as little time as possible. Alison was there for me every step of the way smoothing out the inevitable glitches, keeping everyone on their toes, dealing with the banks and their tortuous procedures and supporting me when the frustration and bureaucracy became intolerable.
There were so many practical arrangements to make and TimeFinders took care of them all from organizing the dispersal of personal effects to family and friends and arranging for the remainder of my parents’ possessions to be sold, right through to the project management of the complete refurbishment of my parents’ London home and the organization of its sale.
Throughout all this, Alison has provided an Oversight Service for my parents, visiting them frequently, ensuring that they are happy and well-cared for and providing me with an objective professional assessment. Alison is the first emergency contact for the Care Home and, on a couple of occasions when my mother has needed to go into hospital, she has liaised with the medical teams, ensured that the hospital deals properly with a patient with dementia and kept me up to date with developments. Alison attends, on my behalf, the routine appointments with the Consultant Psychiatrist and liaises closely with the Community Psychiatric Nurse as my mother’s condition deteriorates.
My father, now fully recovered from surgery, faces the grief of watching his beloved wife succumb to dementia. Alison supports him, finds ways to alleviate his anxiety and keeps the Care Home working actively to give him the best quality of life possible. I come over to England as often as my work will allow and I am in frequent telephone contact with my father but nothing can compare to having someone who really cares about my parents to be there in person, to sit and talk with my father, to engage with my mother as much as her dementia allows and to keep an independent eye on my parents’ care and well-being when I am in America. It gives me the reassurance and peace of mind I need.
I often sit here in Connecticut and ask myself how I could have done this without TimeFinders’ help. The simple answer is that I couldn’t. Alison has been a god-send and I am lucky to have met her. She is my hands, eyes, support and “go-to” person. I have no doubt in my mind that had I not met Alison, my parents would probably not be alive today.