Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

End of an era in Killinchy

My grandparents on Mum’s side were from the Killinchy area originally. Although they moved to Belfast in the 1920s, they still rented a cottage just outside Balloo village, moving once or twice and by the time I was born they were in a cute little thatched cottage on the top of the first hill out of the village.

We spent from two to four months a year from the 1960s through to the early 1980s and it always felt like home. Each summer, we’d basically up sticks and move to the country. Gone was the electricity, gone was the mains water in the kitchen and gone was the indoor loo! Still, it was nice and I managed to get through an awful lot of reading there over the years.

In 1969, we paved the front and as part of that Dad put a little square of plain cement so that I could put a handprint, footprint and some details for posterity, all of which were still readable up to a year or two back. But no more, as we found out when we called by last week as a big weed has grown through the little square. The flush toilet arrived in 1974 and comes with a fetching string vest pattern all around the septic tank courtesy of the vest my Dad was wearing that day. The thatch became increasingly difficult to maintain as the thatchers are dying out and it was replaced with a corregated iron roof sometime in the 1990s I think.

It’s seen better days for sure but is doing pretty well for a cottage that was built over 150 years ago.

However, the flush toilet has now gone as the garden has been bulldozed for the construction of a new bungalow.

The cottage is still there for now, but probably not for a whole lot longer.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Off to Portrush

The family used to go to Portrush every Easter Monday when I was a child and we’ve restarted that tradition since getting back from France.

Over the years lots of things have changed but not really that much in Portrush. It takes a lot less time to get there these days not so much because the roads are better but rather because there are fewer people doing the trip which is very noticeable in terms of the lack of cars there relative to yesteryear.

Barry’s, the entertainment complex, seems hardly to have changed at all. Aside from two newish (a number of years old) outside rides for the kids, not much has changed. The roller-coaster and dodgems seem pretty much identical and electronic games have largely passed it by.

One thing that did change for a brief period was the arrival of the Dunluce Centre but that’s closed down now as indeed have several of the non-chippy food outlets which had arrived a few years back.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Tidying up the finances when someone goes into a nursing home

Mum’s journey into a nursing home was largely unplanned for and constantly suffering from delays on the part of social services but she’s been there for several months now. That’s created a much greater involvement with social services and social security than we’ve had up to now and it’s something of a nightmare on the whole.

First off, the financial assessment people want a whole bunch of information about her finances. That sounded like it would be simple when they demanded it (“ask” isn’t in their vocabulary) but in fact it isn’t. Even getting information from their colleagues in social security proved extremely difficult. In fact, that difficulty should really be obvious: you’re phoning up to ask about someone else’s financial situation. Naturally, the answer is along the lines “we can’t provide that information to you”.

On the other side of the coin their colleagues in social services are concerned about protecting her finances. Well, protecting them for themselves really as their view is that all her assets were built up to pay for nursing home fees. However, there’s a conflict in their demands and those of the financial assessment people.

Then there’s the matter of transferring numerous direct debits built up over a period of time. Not quite so simple really although that at least appears to be doable for the most part with the exception, so far, of Sky who can’t get their head around needing to cancel Sky because the person using and paying for it has moved into a nursing home. I look forward to their demands for payment now that I’ve canceled the direct debit. Well, actually, I won’t get them as they insist on speaking to the bill payer, who ain’t here any more.

Anyway, I think I’m on the home run with moving the bills to appropriate places.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Finding a nursing home

Mum had a fall a few months back and managed to break her hip which was replaced surprisingly quickly but unfortunately even after a couple of months worth of rehabilitation, her mobility is still way down from what it was and stairs aren’t a runner for her. That’s something of a problem as she’d have to be able to deal with the stairs to come home and so we’ve been looking for some kind of nursing home.

At the discharge meeting the consensus was that it would need to be a nursing home rather than a residential one so off we went round looking at places on that basis. All of that time was wasted as a) she’d not been formally assessed (and didn’t need “nursing” as it turned out) and b) every place we went to had a waiting list (20 years, yes TWENTY YEARS, in one case!!).

As far as rehabilitation goes, you get up to six weeks before they start looking for money and then you’ve 48 hours to move before you start writing cheques. That being the case, you’d think that they’d do the assessment a week or two in advance of discharge but in our case it was done the day before she notionally had to leave. Anyway, that kicked off another round of running around looking at residential homes. Except that they too had waiting lists and it was only a few days later that we were given a short list of ones that didn’t have lists. A list with three places on it, two of which were miles away and the third of which had a waiting list. So we asked again and were given another name which had a place. Except that it didn’t as it was away by the time we got there, just a couple of hours after getting the name of it.

We asked the doctor and he had a name of a place that seemed perfect. Snag was that it turned out not to be a runner financially. What they didn’t tell us was that they’d pay £426 and we’d have to pay anything above that. You might think that the person going in could pay it but they can’t as it has to be a “3rd party” (ie usually the sons/daughters). It’s also worth bearing in mind that this “top-up” can go up quite dramatically over the years eg one place we know of went from £10 a week to getting on for £100 a week over the course of 10 years (bear in mind that people usually stay 10-15 years).

Anyway, we’re back to the place that said they had a waiting list but had two empty rooms. Quite why those rooms were available us and not offered to those on the waiting list first is a mystery, but then so much of nursing home lore is a mystery. The remaining issue with it is that it’s basically an unfurnished flat so we need to source some furniture.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The hot potatoe that’s care for the elderly

Mum had a fall a few months ago and managed to land that little bit too heavily and consequently broke her hip. That in turn led to a new hip so the fall actually helped her in that she now has the new hip that she needed but would otherwise have needed to wait a couple of years to get. That then led to was an extended stay in what’s called an intermediate care home which is basically an annexe to the hospital in all but name and she’d been there almost six weeks now.

That “almost six weeks” means that last week I was called to what’s essentially a discharge meeting where all the social work people along with a representative from the care home to discuss what her situation was now and what should happen next. It’s almost six weeks because six weeks is the maximum amount of time that the local trust will pay for recuperative care and after that, well, that’s a good question as it turns out.

It was very clear from what was said about her current condition that our house just isn’t suitable for her and neither would we be able to offer the level of care that seems to be necessary, even were we to accept what would be a very high degree of care on offer from the trust. Actually, the level of care on offer was something that we’d had offered before and when we thought through the consequences, it just wasn’t going to be viable. Moreover, now they’re saying that it’s pretty much round the clock care that she needs which isn’t on offer and wouldn’t really be practical for us even if it were.

Anyway, that in turn meant that we we felt that a nursing home was the way to go. But is it a “nursing home” or a ” residential home” that she needs? That’s a good question and one that I couldn’t answer. Neither could the people at the meeting, at least not in a definitive way. Would it be permanent or temporary? Another good question although in that old people always get older I’d say that permanent would be a good guess.

A rather interesting question is who pays for it all. As far as the social worker group were concerned it was around £540 from them (in itself consisting of all but £22 of Mum’s pension and allowances) and the top-up of (for that home) of £70 from me. That was if the money was available in the budget which, of course, it may not be. A chat with Age Concern (OK, AgeUK, but really, who calls them that?) it was quite a different story. For one thing they appear to have to find the money from the budget and I don’t have to pay a top-up either as only someone “willing and able” to pay would have to pay (she can’t pay herself as it needs to be a 3rd party).

Until we found all that out we were running around everywhere trying to find a home that we could afford (of which there were none) and that had spaces (also none). Who knows what’ll happen on Monday when the six weeks are up though as I’ve not been able to get in touch with any of the social worker team.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.