‘Auntie was the ‘glue’ in our family’ is how a cousin described my Mum. She was a farmer’s wife, a mother of four, a granny to ten and very much part of the farming folk of the area. So it was a bad day when I arrived for a long overdue visit to discover this ‘Lynch Pin’ of a lady, sitting on a bar stool at the sink with barely the strength to peel carrots. In short – we were in trouble. Within days the cancer that was destroying her cast her low. Her diagnosis took numerous hospital trips and much effort in order to ‘work the system’ for desperately needed appointments. It was harvest time on the farm; my father, brother and three grandsons were in residence – hungry, dirty men with limited housekeeping talents! My business could be run from a laptop anywhere, but it still needed to be run. But there was never any doubt that we would all be around to help Mum stay at home to the end. To make this happen, we had to get some live-in care and fast. As luck would have it I had spent a day with a bunch of girlfriends only weeks before where the common topic had been how to get live-in care when parents hit a crisis. Emails flew about for contacts and feedback and I entered the business of private care agencies. Memories of this are a haze of telephone interviews, endless form filling, efforts to predict what our job description would be and negotiations with the family about arrangements and not least, the finances of private care. Above all I’d say that if time is on your side get ahead and do all this preparation in advance. Get some word of mouth recommendations, sort out the administration and get registered way ahead of there being any real need. It costs nothing or very little and is well worth it if the proverbial s—t hits the fan! The result inevitably will be a much better match of personalities and experience. For us we had no lead time and within a few days I found that Universal Aunts asked for very little form filling, gave us short instructions on terms and conditions and assured us that one of their best ladies would soon be on her way to live with us. We drew a sigh of relief, pinning much hope on this stranger being able to relieve us of chores and nourish us with health-giving food, leaving us more time to nurse Mum and surround her with friends and family. By now I had learnt the expectations for live-in care from the many conversations with the mix of dragons and angels who run private agencies. In short:-
- A bedroom with TV point, WiFi, deskspace, wardrobe and dedicated bed and bath linen.
- Arrangements for time off, time on and days off.
- Insurance for driving the car.
- Credit card arrangements for shopping.