A Personal Reflection on Dementia Care
In September 2019 my wife, Jackie, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease with Parkinson’s was how it was described to me but later the diagnosis was changed to Lewy Body dementia). Our lives would never be the same. During the last quarter of 2020 Jackie spent 8 weeks in hospital recovering from an infection during which her decline seemed to accelerate. Jackie was discharged to assess in Kimberly East Care centre, part of the Wessex Care group, on Tollgate Road, Salisbury.
It was a dark, cold November evening when I accompanied Jackie in the ambulance that took her to the care home where Coronavirus lockdown restrictions meant that I had to say goodbye to Jackie at the front door and give her one last hug. I watched the ambulance medics take Jackie to the front door with some trepidation and a sense of loss. I had been taking care of Jackie for nearly two years and would now lose all close contact with her. I was also afraid for her as I knew she had to endure 14 days quarantine once inside the home.
I shouldn’t have worried. The person who received Jackie looked at me and she said “I’m so sorry I cannot let you come in with your wife. I feel awful about that!” and I was sure she meant that. I felt relieved at her words and thought that Jackie would be with someone who I felt was a caring person.
The Kimberly East staff proved very caring both of Jackie and of me too. If Jackie had any incidents such as a fall then I was informed in good time. I was able to phone at any time for information or with concerns or for an update on how Jackie was doing. I was surprised on one occasion when the carer I was speaking to asked if I wanted to talk to Jackie. Naturally I said yes and it was wonderful to hear her voice again. She was in a confused state (that is the nature of dementia) but it was a great relief to learn from Jackie that she did not feel anxious or worried about anything. It was good to know that if it was convenient then I could always ask to speak to Jackie for a chat.
A week after entering Kimberly East Jackie was moved to Little Manor Care Centre, following its reopening after a complete refurbishment. I was able to see Jackie via FaceTime video calls and I could see that she was settled and being looked after. A visitor “pod” was soon up and running and I was able to visit Jackie albeit done up in the PPE provided by Wessex Care and it was so lovely to be able to talk to Jackie in person again.
Jackie’s care assessment was performed at Little Manor by a social worker. The conclusion was that for her own safety she should move into a residential care home. Jackie moved into Milford Manor in mid-January 2021 where she quickly settled into her new surroundings and was soon happily wandering around the place.
During January 2021 a Covid-19 outbreak at Milford Manor caused significant disruption. The Wessex Care staff had gone to great lengths to try and keep the residents safe but unfortunately, Jackie, amongst others, did contract the virus despite their efforts. I was alerted immediately Jackie got her positive test result and at that time Milford Manor went into lockdown. Wessex Care issued residents’ relatives with weekly reports to keep them informed of what was happening. Luckily Jackie was not badly affected by the virus and with the care of the Milford Manor staff made a full recovery.
I am grateful to the way in which the staff at Milford Manor have looked after Jackie with such good humour and cheerfulness. That Jackie is receiving the best possible care brings me great comfort and the future does not look so bleak.
Salisbury, March 2021