Life can get in the way sometimes. It certainly did in our family.
On the 16th of November, at 6.30pm, we were on our boat in Dawesville tied up with 3 other boats ready to stay overnight when we got the dreaded phone call, Greg’s mother had been taken to Peel hospital with a suspected stroke and we had to untie the other boats tied alongside us and head back to Mandurah as fast as we could so that we could park the boat, drop the little girl off and go and pick up his father and take him to the hospital.
Mum was in Peel Health campus for nearly 2 weeks, what an absolute nightmare!! Unfortunately her stay was a nightmare for all of us, every time we called the hospital, we were given conflicting info, there didn’t see to be any consistency with anything, she was told that she could leave on several occasions, she’d get dressed and then someone would come and tell her she had to stay. One thing that I must say is that the nursing staff were absolutely fantastic in their treatment of her, however, every other aspect of her stay, was deplorable.
On the Tuesday, 2 days after the stroke, the hospital had a social worker visit her in her ward, she gave Mum a on having an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) and advised her that she should organise it asap. Given that she was in hospital, I took the form and said I would follow this up. On phoning the Peel ACAT service, I was advised that the hospital MUST request the ACAT referral, I contacted the hospital and asked when this could be booked and was told that they weren’t going to request one, until she was ready to be released, the bottom line was that they didn’t request one until I started jumping up and down and complaining to anyone who would listen. Luckily, I went to the city with my mum to have a high tea with my daughter in law and one of the ladies who also attended works for a company that is associated with aged care, she put me in touch with someone who was able to rattle some cages.
We also tried to get an ACAT assessment for Dad, sadly, this was also a drama.
While all of this was happening, we realised that Greg’s father was not doing too well either, he was forgetting things that we had said a short while before and it was consistent. On the following weekend, we had arranged to pick him up from his home and take him to visit the hospital when we found that he was missing, he had told a neighbour that he was driving to Fremantle hospital and that he had moved in with Greg & Lee, (they were going to move in with us but not until after Mum had come out of hospital.
When she was finally ready to be released, they lost her medicine list, and her file, they FORGOT to do a INR (Warfarin test) on her in the morning, so we had to stay at the hospital for another 2 hours until firstly the paperwork was found and secondly wait until someone was able to come and do the INR test. They phoned us at home later that evening with the results, and which tablets she was to have.
After she was released from hospital, both of them, their cat and their dog moved in with us, this is when the not so fun started.
While struggling with the dementia, we had serious issues with getting his diabetes and insulin levels correct, luckily we were able to phone health direct for advice, that however was a nightmare!!! trying to help someone else, privacy and all that, tough luck if he had been dying.
We finally got the ACAT assessments both booked for the same day it turns out Dad has Alzheimer’s and advanced Dementia so we got a double whammy. The ACAT is extremely important, we found that without having the assessment, we were not able to organise any care either in the home or in a facility.
Well the ACAT was been done, we were able to start organising some in home care for them both, well true to our NOT good luck, there were NO available high care packages in our area so we had to look for an alternative, residential care for Dad as neither Mum, Greg or I are able to cope with his care as he we work full time and his needs were more than we could cope with. I started applying for any residential care in the whole Perth area as I had tried in Mandurah / Rockingham area with no beds available.
After applying to over 30 facilities to find initially respite for Dad, I was starting to get very depressed after working a full day at work, then coming home and having people and other animals in our home and getting constant negative responses. We haven’t had anyone living with us for nearly 10 years now so it was a huge adjustment. I had received responses from about 25 facilities by either phone or email ( during those weeks my left ear got so sore from constantly being on the phone) and I was starting to think that Greg and I would not be able to take our annual (and very needed) break, I received a call from a facility in Carlisle at 9am and the woman was lovely, when she told me that unfortunately she couldn’t help me, I burst into tears and said that was just the way our luck ran, she told me that she would ring around their other facilities and see what she could do for me. By 1pm, I had all but given up hope, when my mobile rang and it was the care facility in Mandurah and the best thing was that it is just over the road and round the corner, only a 10 minute walk from home.
It was obviously meant to be, well Dad has now been placed in care, just around the corner and unfortunately this will be his new home, while Mum is going to stay with us until she feels that she needs to go into care herself.
Dealing with Centrelink on their behalf has been an absolute NIGHTMARE!!!
My mummy has been extremely helpful with this process as she has had a great more time to be able to research things for me, so I would like to send an enormous thankyou to her for all of her support and help through this very difficult time. I completed all of the forms for Centrelink to be able to act on their behalf and change their details. The documents were signed 27th November and hand delivered by mummy (after waiting for 2 hours in the Centrelink office) on Monday 2nd December, I received a response from them 6th January advising that some of the paperwork that was included in the bundle of paperwork handed in (I have taken copies of all of the paperwork included in the bundle handed in as there were several documents for both Mum & Dad, and I don’t trust people to do their work properly.
I spent more than 5 hours dealing with Centrelink on the phone and online on Tuesday trying to sort out this stuff, on hold for 40 minutes before being answered and then another 30 minutes before I was able to speak to the supervisor. When I eventually got to speak to her thankfully, she was very helpful.
This post might seem like nothing but a huge whinge, but there are two things that we have learned from all of this is that it is NEVER too soon to have an enduring power of attorney in place as in Greg’s dad’s case it was too late, we now have to go down the path of guardianship and administration which is done through the courts and takes more than 8 weeks, and we would not willingly put anyone through what we have been over the last few weeks, and that in a blink of an eye Life can get in the way of all the things that you love.