Some of you have mentioned that I haven’t published my blog for a few weeks… There are a variety of reasons for that – computer problems (my patience levels are very low!), busy generally, and I have been away for a week. Anyway, I apologise, and hopefully, normal service will be resumed now.
I went to Norfolk last week, to stay with my friends, Kate and Geoff. Kate’s mum now lives in a nursing home, as she can no longer walk. (I don’t want to say too much about the reason for that at the moment, as there is a court case pending and I don’t want to do anything to prejudice it. Maybe later.)
What I do want to say, though, is in praise of Saxlingham Hall, where she is now living. There are actually several homes in the same group, but I’m talking about the one at Saxlingham Green.
It looks like a converted manor house, set in rural Norfolk, up near the north Norfolk coast; it certainly is in a lovely setting.
Mum spends most of her days in a chair, where she can look out of the window, looking at the garden and, further on, fields, or she can watch TV. (She can read too, but books are getting a bit too heavy for her, which is awful, because she has always been a great reader.) Not a great life for someone who is, mentally, as sharp as a tack, but she makes the most of it. The nursing home does arrange events for its residents from time to time, but it’s still difficult for people who are not fully mobile.
I was impressed, first of all, by the cleanliness of the place. Yes, I know it should be clean, but sadly, sometimes nursing and residential homes aren’t. I was also impressed by the friendliness of everyone who worked there. All the nursing staff and care assistants (they were changing shift about the time that Kate and I arrived) popped into see Mum, to say hello, how are you, and to give her a big hug. That must make all the difference for the residents at the home, just to have that bit of human contact on a regular basis, especially when you can’t move around on your own.
I was also impressed that they, very openly (although with Mum’s permission) let me read her charts. (I am an avid reader of hospital charts, and although I may not understand everything, I check it when I get home, so I do!) And were prepared to answer my questions (Mum, Kate and I discuss it all anyway, so Mum is ok with me asking questions).
I know that the people that work in these places don’t earn big bucks, but the ones I met all seemed very caring and dedicated, and that means a lot to me and to Kate and Mum. Mum’s recently had to sell her house, to pay for the ongoing costs of living in the home, and although the egalitarian in me says that we should all pay our way, I know how much it hurt Mum and Kate to have to sell the family home. (And there are other issues that I don’t want to go into here.)
Mum’s husband passed away in their home, and although she hasn’t been able to go back for almost two years anyway, it is still awful for her to have been unable to say goodbye, and unable to have had a choice. I know she’s not alone in being in this position, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable.
And that’s another reason for thanking the nurses and care staff who work at Saxlingham. They are the ones who see Mum in “the dark night of her soul.” So a huge THANK YOU to all of you at Saxlingham, and to all of you who work in (decent) care and nursing homes everywhere. Thank you for helping people who can no longer fend for themselves, thank you for caring and taking care of people like Mum, and thank you for doing all this without earning a fortune. You really are special.
©Susan Shirley 2014