Realising that a parent needs full-time care and choosing a home for them, is one of hardest decisions many adults face. However, after Norman, 83, had a short stay in Sandfields care home, Cheltenham, his daughter Trudie wished that the family had opted for such support a decade ago.
What was supposed to be a short respite stay to help Norman recover from a bout of serious illness, turned into a permanent residency after both he and his three children realised that this was the best option for him, and a home from home.
Before Norman moved to Sandfields, he lived alone in Portsmouth, far away from his children. Daughters Trudie and Tracy lived in Gloucestershire, whilst son Toby worked as a teacher in Manchester.
Norman had limited mobility, and relied on occasional visits from friends, and the support of district nurses who tended to him during the day. However, this was not enough as his health was suffering. He had stomach cancer and gall stones, and contracted a series of infections including MRSA and E coli, which began affecting his heart. He was hospitalised for three months, as doctors battled to clear the infection from his body. This ordeal left Norman weak and almost bed-bound, and he realised that he could not continue living alone.
Initially, at Norman’s request, the family looked into getting full-time care for him at home. But it still meant care workers would just visit during the day, whereas Norman needed round-the-clock support, as well as company and stimulation.
Trudie, 53, comments: “Dad has always been very independent, but whilst at hospital, one of the nurses treating him gave him a much-needed reality check. She told him that while friends are useful, family are more reliable. She said he was no longer able to depend solely on the goodwill of people in his area. He needed to make a permanent change for himself, and that change was to be closer to his children.”
Norman therefore opted for short term care at Sandfields care home, where he could be visited regularly by his family. Within weeks, his children noticed a remarkable improvement in Norman’s health and wellbeing.
Trudie says: “I now see a side of dad I thought was gone. He zooms down the corridor with his zimmer frame, can wash and dress himself as well as take his own medicine. He enjoys the exercise classes, and even goes out on regular trips to town and church with the care workers. My sister and I take him out too. He’s not really missing Portsmouth, and he’s got so much to do here. I’m amazed how quickly he’s settled in. It’s become his new home.”
Trudie credits the level of service and the dedicated staff at Sandfields care home for Norman’s new lease of life. She says: “Before dad came to Sandfields, my vision of care homes involved a bunch of residents sat in one big cold room with the TV on in the background.
“But Sandfields is nothing like that. Every aspect of the home is designed with the patient in mind. They have a sensory garden with different flowers, colours, textures and smells. The food has really helped, as dad’s diet is much better. At that age, your life revolves around your next meal, so good, tasty nutrition is vital. Dad feels secure comfortable and warm. Sandfields home really has extended his life.”
Having seen the best side of care options, Trudie has advice for anyone faced with such a decision for their loved one: “It might seem like a cruel thing to put your parent in a care home. But if you choose the right home, it’s the best possible decision you could make. Sandfields is a cross between a home and a hotel, and every night I can sleep safe in the knowledge that he’s in good hands.”