As predicted, Mum was reluctant to open her present on Christmas morning. In fact, she removed the tag and that was it, job done. Mum’s Christmas was complete. As I left her yesterday, I marvelled again at the love and patience shown to Mum and all the residents. It takes a special person to be a carer in a dementia care home. In fact, it takes a special person to be a carer at all. It’s estimated that dementia care costs this country around £26 billion a year. That’s £26 billion every year. And the cost is only likely to rise. Of that colossal amount, £11.6 billion is unpaid care, behind front doors, often invisible to the rest of us. While I was with Mum, so thankful that a team of caring people were there for her, thousands and thousands were caring alone, heroes all.
After seeing Mum, I called in to the Manor Hospital in Walsall where Mum’s 89 year old cousin is recovering from two badly broken femurs. I try to visit her as often as I can, sometimes after or before seeing Mum. As she put it when I arrived yesterday:
“You and your old ladies!”
She knows all about dementia. She’s as sharp as a tack herself but her father lived with the disease for many years before his death in 1985 at the age of 91. She cared for him on her own and, I think, has taken a second instance so close to her hard to accept. It was a busy day on her ward, with a constant stream of visitors arriving and departing and the staff trying to serve Christmas lunch to people with small or non-existent appetites. Again, the patience and care was exceptional. For those who choose a broad brush with which to criticise staff in our hospitals, try doing it yourselves.
The talent to care, (and it is a talent), whether at home, in a home or in a hospital, should be prized by all of us. Sadly, it doesn’t always seem to be the case. For me, caring, really caring, is a measure of society. If we can’t care for each other, and we can’t offer care wherever and whenever it’s most needed, then something is badly wrong. And, as politicians continue to bicker over care, something is definitely wrong.