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My Days – Chapter Seven

Moving On

Over the coming months, although mum felt she could no longer travel distances, we still went on shorter journeys to see family, go shopping and have lunch.  She looked forward to seeing Pam and me.

Her eyesight was starting to get worse – she had glaucoma and cataracts. By now, she had carers going twice a day to administer eye drops, and she had a cleaner and a gardener who went weekly. She also had very good neighbours and most days one of them would call in to see her. Pam would prepare meals which we delivered when we visited. They would go in the freezer and mum would put them in the microwave. She had stopped doing her own cooking some time ago. She was living somewhat independently but was not fully independent.

By the autumn of 2013, Mum had lost interest in going out at all. She openly talked about being lonely. It appeared, in fact, that she was getting quite depressed.

Early in December that year, she asked if we could find ‘somewhere nice’ for her to go for a rest. She missed going to Scarborough or coming to stay with us, and she felt that she wanted a break from her everyday life.

With the aid of the internet, we identified Stones Place Residential Home as somewhere that might fit the bill. I gave them a call and I spoke to Bev, then Administrator but now Deputy Manager, and we discussed the possibility of mum going there for a week’s respite care. The half-hour (!) phone call was extremely encouraging. Bev suggested that we took mum for a look-around, at any time, and she explained how Stones Place differed from most homes: “When you come through the front door, you’ll notice that it doesn’t smell.”

One Saturday, early in December, Mum, Pam and I went to Stones Place for a look-around. We were made very welcome by the senior carer and given a guided tour and coffee and biscuits. Bev was right – it didn’t smell! From the moment mum stepped into the entrance, she loved it, and decided she’d like to go there for a week’s rest.

Mum was told that she could spend Christmas at Stones Place, but she wanted to be at home for Christmas and so arranged to go at the end of December.

We later realised that she expected this to be the last Christmas she would spend in her own home. In her own mind, she’d decided she could no longer cope with living fully independently.

Mum went into Stones Place on Monday 30th December 2013. She really liked her room – Room 19, on the first floor- which looked out over the gardens at the front of the home.  After just a few days, she decided to extend the length of respite to three weeks. Before the three weeks were up, she decided that she didn’t want to go back to living on her own and that she wanted to become a permanent resident at Stones Place.

Anna, the Manager, Pam and I all tried to persuade mum to go home for a week so that she could be absolutely sure she really did want to move into Stones Place. But she was adamant. It was something she wanted and needed to do.

She’d made a massive decision. She’d lived in the house in Somersby Close for almost fifty years, building a home there with dad. But she’d clearly concluded that life on her own there had become intolerable. In that short time in Stones Place, she’d enjoyed the lifestyle and started to feel much more like her old self. She’d decided that it was time to move on.

 

A New Life

Monday 30th December 2013 was genuinely the start of a brand-new life for mum. She had gone to Stones Place lonely, depressed and with little interest in life. Her neighbours later told us that they were worried about her and they didn’t think she would have lasted the winter if she’d stayed at home. Stones Place gave her a new lease of life.

Once mum had made her decision to permanently move into Stones Place, we had to arrange the sale of mum’s house. The sale went through very quickly and smoothly and Pam and I began the process of clearing it. That is when we discovered Mum’s book.

During the clearing process, we took mum to the house a few times to help her pick out clothes and other possessions to take to her new home. When the process was complete and the house empty, she wanted to go back for one last time to have a look around, closing a chapter on a life of almost fifty years at Somersby Close. She very quietly walked around the garden and around the rooms downstairs. She could no longer go upstairs as her stairlift had been removed. As she left by the front door, she just said, “well, that’s it then”. There were no tears and no regrets, but that didn’t mean she did not miss her little home – or, more accurately, the life she’d lived there – in the years to come.

Mum found her new life at Stones Place very much to her liking. Encouraged by the staff, she immediately started participating in some of the indoor activities, such as carpet skittles and carpet bowls, proudly showing Pam and I the medals she’d won. She soon made many new friends with whom she enjoyed spending time. Every day she would take a walk around the garden, with one of her new friends or on her own. If the weather was not fit to go outdoors, she’d find her way around the home and visit some of the other residents in their rooms.

It was a pleasure to see how happy and content she was in Stones Place compared with how she’d been in her last few months at Somersby Close. It was also very reassuring for us to know that, as well as company, she was getting the care she needed.

In May 2015, it was mum’s 100th birthday. She had a wonderful party in the chapel at Stones Place. There were about thirty guests – friends, family and other residents – and a delicious buffet tea prepared by the home’s cook, Elena. Anna, Bev and Jean (the Activities Co-ordinator), along with Geoff (the Chaplain), made sure that mum and all the guests were well looked after.

As well as her card from the Queen, mum received a lovely gift of a glass ornament from MHA and various other gifts from her guests. Some gave her money which was used to buy a garden ornament to celebrate mum’s 100th. This was placed in the front garden at Stones Place and remains there to this day.

Over subsequent years, mum continued to enjoy life at Stones Place, although her eyesight gradually deteriorated. When Pam and I visited, the three of us would go out somewhere for lunch.  As mum’s mobility became more limited, we would often go to Whisby Nature Park where we could hire a wheelchair and take her on the walks around the lakes. This was one of her favourite places locally. Although her vision was very poor, she took pleasure from hearing the calling of birds on the lakes and from simply being outside in the fresh air.

Early in 2018, mum moved to Room 11 on the ground floor. This made it much easier for her to get to the dining room, chapel and other facilities, and for carers and visitors to take her out into the gardens, something that she always enjoyed. It also meant that mum passed by the office of the new manager, Emma*, each time she was taken anywhere. This usually resulted in Emma coming out of her office and giving mum a hug and generally making a fuss of her  – something else that she always enjoyed!

When she wasn’t being taken on walks around the gardens, mum spent a lot of time sitting in the porch at the front door. Here she became a very familiar face to all the regular visitors, and she was so pleased when they stopped and had a chat with her, which many of them did.

Mum had remarkably good health. She did have two spells when she was admitted to hospital. In 2018 she had a fall and broke her hip. This necessitated a partial hip replacement under general anaesthetic. They had difficulty in getting her blood pressure back up, and consequently she was in ICU for three days. However, she pulled through, and within a very short period of time she was back at Stones Place and walking painlessly with a frame.

The second admission was in the autumn of 2019 when she was suffering from a severe chest infection. Once again, to many people’s surprise, she recovered, and was very soon welcomed back to Stones Place.

* Anna retired in December 2017 and was replaced by the current manager, Emma.

The staff at Stones Place did not allow setbacks such as these affect mum’s quality of life. In the spring of 2019, knowing that Mum had grown up in the country on a smallholding, Bev took mum up to Riseholme Agricultural College for Lambing Sunday. Mum had a wonderful time, nursing a lamb and feeding it with a bottle. She also ended up talking to BBC Look North while she was doing this.

In the summer of 2019, a trip to Sutton on Sea was organised for the residents. Mum was chaperoned for the day by Emma. A wonderful time was had by all, and mum especially enjoyed her very large mug of hot chocolate.

In December 2019, a group of residents were taken to Pennells Garden Centre to see their Christmas decorations and have lunch.  Mum went with them, and she was accompanied throughout by Geoff. By all accounts, the four hours they spent there was hilarious from start to finish.

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