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The Inadvertent Carer
Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 31 Dec, 2023

The Inadvertent carer

The Beginning

In 2010, both my parents and both my in-laws were fit and moderately well. By the end of 2013 we had lost my Mother-in-Law to Bronchiectasis and my Dad to a series of heart attacks, minor strokes, vascular dementia and, ultimately, pneumonia. Over the next few years, my Father-in-Law’s health began to fail and he became increasingly dependant on my wife (mostly), a small army of neighbours and volunteers and myself to maintain his independence. In January 2024 the cause of his worsening breathlessness was found. He was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. 

My Mum, though, seemed to sail through without any major dramas until early 2023 when a series of catastrophic events – pneumonia, sepsis and a series of strokes – left her needing medical assistance 24/7 and confined to a nursing home.

The Outcome

My somewhat flexible working arrangements allowed me to be my Mum’s most frequent visitor. Recognising that she wasn’t just my Mum, I wanted to keep my siblings up to date with her progress. A WhatsApp group seemed the obvious answer. Far more convenient than a series of phone calls, texts or whatever.

The record of Mum’s physical and psychological condition turned into a record of her passage through the NHS and Social Services systems and nursing homes too. The staff, patients and residents that I met along the way became my social life so they figure prominently.

Initially, I was experiencing frustration at not being able to work in my planned creative outlets. But I soon realised that providing the record WAS my creative outlet. It was also extremely therapeutic and helped me process and unpack what I was having to deal with.

When the record began to get a wider audience I was encouraged to make it public as it might be useful for people going through the same experience.

Publishing it here seemed to be the obvious first step. If only to explain to people who were expecting to see more wood, stone and photography projects why my social media accounts had gone so quiet.

You’ll find links to each day’s update below…

 

 

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Wednesday

Wednesday

Wednesday Mum had been sufficiently sleepy yesterday for me to feel confident that she'd be sound and unresponsive...

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Tuesday

Tuesday

Tuesday Starting the family update with "Another long day for Lesley visiting her dad" seems to happening more often....

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Monday

Monday

Monday A slow start to the week today. Normally, I'm wide awake and up and about before my alarm goes off. Today, I...

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Sunday

Sunday

Sunday Eldest Sister was on the hook for today's visit. Over the past few days the list of people she was bringing...

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Saturday

Saturday

Saturday The visit today was much earlier and briefer than usual. We were trying to cram in a quick visit to Mum...

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Friday

Friday

Friday Mum had all the hallmarks of having just woken up today. She was still stiff and sore from a couple of immobile...

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Thursday

Thursday

Thursday When Mum moved to The Home I promised myself I'd be stricter with myself and to allow myself a break when I...

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Wednesday

Wednesday

Wednesday I got another heads-up from Reggie on my way in to The Home. "It's Sleepy Mum today. She's been that way all...

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Tuesday

Tuesday

Tuesday Cousin Sue and her husband came to see Mum today. They did the journey by train so I picked them up at the...

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