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I really dreaded the trip to the rest home. The move had been looming for months as I could no longer care for Bill at home. My health was suffering, and my family said I couldn’t do it any longer.

I had talked with my GP, and we had been assessed in the unit where the doctor told us that Bill needed more care than I could provide. I met with the needs assessor and together we decided on a rest home close to our home. It would be easy for me and family members to visit. This was important as my sons had always been close to their dad. I wanted this to continue.

Now all I had to say was yes to the bed being offered.

On my initial visit to the rest home, I had been impressed by the manager and care staff. They didn’t rush me and spent time listening to my worries and concerns. The manager answered my questions and handed me endless tissues while I cried. The decision was made. Probably the hardest decision I had to make.

The following Monday, my son and I packed up Bill’s suitcase and drove to the rest home. We went slowly – the long way around.  Bill sat in the back of the car seemingly oblivious to what was happening. (It felt a bit like the first day I took my eldest child to school.)

We were met by the manager and a rest home caregiver. We quietly made the room look familiar with photographs, a chair from home, and a colourful bedspread.  Then we sat. Bill was quite relaxed by the time we left was a great relief to me. That was it – done and dusted. My son and I drove home – again the long way – and I went inside alone.

Six months have gone by. If you ask me how it’s been, and what has helped me cope with Bill’s transition into care and my move to living alone, I would have to say it’s the people I entrusted Bill with.

It’s the caregiver staff at the rest home who always give us time and respect. They have helped me the most. I feel relaxed about going to the home anytime and asking for advice or suggestions.

Friends and family have been great, but the care staff who have cared for Bill, cared for me too.

It’s the manager who encouraged the staff to know, care and understand about our lives, our family, and what we’ve been through.  We were encouraged to put together a ‘This is Your Life’ book for Bill – a nice big clear photo album with names so the staff knew who was who.

Bill had been diagnosed with Lewey Body Dementia which means he could be unsteady on his feet sometimes. He seemed to be more aware of his confusion and forgetfulness. Sometimes Bill saw and talked about things that weren’t real. It was important that the staff knew about this.

The staff kept me well informed in those early days and I trusted them. A couple of the staff were doing dementia training so I could tell them about Bill’s journey and how it was for me. They say this helped a lot. I was pleased to have helped them in a way. It was good to talk about the past.

The three main things that helped us with Bill’s move have been:

  1. That the care staff gave us time on the first few visits – we didn’t feel rushed – we had plenty of time to talk over things.
  2. The staff understood the things that would worry me, and they respected my wishes even if it’s as simple as wanting Bill to continue wearing his nice shirts and trousers.
  3. The staff took time to understand about the specific nature of Bill’s dementia and know about the ‘old’ Bill and his previous life.

I am so pleased with the rest home and the caring staff. Of course, I would much rather have Bill at home with me, but I can see now it is the best place for him. I do think of the care staff as part of our family now.

And as for me? I make time to spend hours in my garden. I feel less stressed now.

I visit Bill every couple of days. I have even learnt to enjoy my own company a bit!

Shirley