In the middle of October the 'family' (if you can call us that in any sense of the word) finally relented and put my grandmother in a residential home. It was against my wishes and, to make things worse, during the actual transition I was away on holiday. I said at the time that I didn't want to be proven right but I couldn't help believing it would make her more unhappy. Well, I have been proven right.
I think the home is shabby but, then, it was only ever picked for proximity to one side of the family and had bugger all to do with what was best for her. The home that my grandmother wanted is currently undergoing renovation work to build an extension. The capacity will no doubt be increased and she's already at the top of the list so she should be able to move there - in April/May. I'm not holding out hope for her lasting that long.
80% of my visits have been soul-destroying. What happens is, we ring the bell and sign in. My dad signals my grandmother in the lounge and she slowly makes her way across to us. Then we head down a long corridor to her room. What happens in that corridor is that she starts sobbing and continues sobbing all the way down to her room. Then she collapses in her chair and sobs some more. When we finally get words out of her, it all boils down to the same thing - she hates that place. As I knew she would. Being right doesn't feel good in this case; it feels downright awful.
So what does she hate? Well, let's start with the physical aspects of the home. Her room is shabby with peeling paint and a lack of hot water at the sink unit. There's also a draught at the window, which they overcompensate for by turning the heat up to tranquilliser levels. More problematic is the fact that this place isn't en-suite (something me and my father were determined on for her privacy). There's a toilet nearby but they're more than happy to make her use the commode, which they then proceed to leave for hours. They're storing things in her room, hoists and the like (and, yes, I trust her on this one, because I've seen the rest of the place). The food isn't up to much and they're not giving her enough - for a small woman she's always eaten lots and the weight is literally dropping off her. She doesn't seem to be getting enough water either - the problem with her dry lips is back with a vengeance after we'd almost fixed it.
There are other things that are getting her down. We went one day last week to find her soggy trousers that no one had tried to change her out of. The way she took this suggested to me it wasn't the first time that had happened. The staff to resident ratio seems to be lacking too. There's a man two doors down from her who wails for staff for ages (something else I've experienced first-hand) and they've had a couple of women with Alzheimer's who haven't been supervised properly. The first one, there on respite, was regularly going into rooms and taking things, including a picture of my late uncle's wedding and two stones, about the only things of emotional value she's got in there. Again, I witnessed this first-hand. The second woman with Alzheimer's seems to enjoy watching people getting undressed and this has upset my grandmother. My question is - are the carers not shutting the door or are they just not stopping the woman getting in? I think there needs to be a closer focus on high-dependency residents, for the sake of all.
It's not the end of the list by any means but it'll do for now. It's all conspired to make her utterly miserable and there's bugger all I can do about it. She found out the other day that my dad and my aunt have to 'get her out' if she wants to leave (am I the only one getting shades of a Victorian asylum with this place?). While I can exert pressure on my dad to try and locate another, less shabby place, my aunt is having none of it. My grandmother says she literally turns her back on her when she tries to discuss it. How the hell can you have that attitude to someone who so obviously suffering? My grandmother told me the other day that when she realised this was it until the end of her life, she couldn't take it. Neither can I, in all honesty.