Nothing or All
Another day, another roller-coaster. After months of feeling completely on our own, suddenly it’s all go. Like waiting at a bus stop in the cold when nothing comes along for an hour then finally three at once. I’m almost delirious with gratitude – but tempered with anxiety that these buses might not be going in the right direction.
The Active Recovery team (sent by the social worker after Nick broke his collarbone) were so quick off the mark that I got a call first thing on a Sunday morning.
“Hello, I’m at your brother’s address and no-one is answering the bell”
“No, well you see he is deaf in both ears, falls asleep with the radio on and he doesn’t normally wake up til midday so he wouldn’t have heard it”
We arranged for her to come back a bit later. We arrived together and as we both stepped over the threshold something odd about the scene took a while to assimilate; my brother was sitting in his usual chair reading the paper; radio on full blast, cats winding about his feet waiting to be fed, the carpet around him a strange sea of shattered green glass. It seemed to have covered the whole floor.
“Blimey darling, did you have an accident? Are you alright? Did you just do that this morning?”
No, he says, last night. Before he went to bed. So he must have just walked over it to get across the room. I can see pieces everywhere, as if the glass had exploded. There are small glittering shards trailing through the carpet into his bedroom. Luckily he always wears his socks to bed but I fear for his feet.
It was kind of good that she saw this, I think. To know what we’re dealing with.
Anyway, her efficiency just floored me. Yes, a team of nurses would come in twice daily and administer his medications (because lately he has been dropping them or forgetting to take them when I am not physically putting them into his mouth) and help him wash, dress, undress and so on.
Feeding the cats? Washing, hanging out washing, putting out the rubbish, making his bed? Of course. Will he want a sandwich making in the morning to leave out for lunch? They’ll do all that.
In the evening they work in pairs, a man and a woman, usually one of them a trained physio so (in theory at least – why can’t I help being cynical?) there will always be expert assistance on hand.
I can hardly believe it. How long will this magical intervention last? They can’t say. They will do it for a period of time until the council care company can take over, but that won’t be overnight as that team will first need to come and do their own assessment with Nick.
I don’t much like the idea of the council care as several years ago they outsourced their care provision to a succession of really dodgy agencies, most of which have since in turn been closed down.
I used to encounter some of them in the course of my work and was always frightened and infuriated by the lack of training, common sense or basic courtesy that seemed to be the norm. I didn't blame the carers themselves so much as the overriding sense of a cheap deal: the fifteen minute call, the bare minimum of human contact, ticking the boxes for the least amount of work you could get away with for the money.
However - I think we’ll have to see how it goes.
At the moment I’m so grateful for any help at all.