Burn after reading
“The Cat has left the Building”
It sounds like a code message between Cold War spies, but I was finally able to text this to Nick’s landlord last night after Simon managed to bundle the poor creature into her basket and whisk her off to be reunited with Nick in their new home.
It took the best part of three days to catch her, and only then because the landlord was anxious to start stripping out the leaking bathroom before the cellar below got completely flooded. It has been like this for weeks but the landlord kindly said he would wait until Nick moved out to start bottoming the whole thing. He has been saintly, considering that this is the third time he’s had to remove the bathroom fixtures to repair broken pipes, and the floor is completely sodden. The poor cat was hiding in the furthest possible corner beneath the bath, crouching on the sodden joists and too frightened to come to our encouraging coos and chicken legs, followed by the terror of men in big boots starting work in there, so it must have been a relief to be captured at last.
And the expression on my brother’s face to see her safely back, and the purring she made on arrival at last, made the whole thing worthwhile. So all three of them are together in their new home and seem happy to be there.
Behind the scenes it’s a slightly different matter. I remember what a shock I got the first time round when Nick moved here in May, when all the arrangements I had so carefully been setting up for weeks just dropped into a vortex where papers had been lost, information not passed on and all support simply stopped.
I don’t think it’s quite as bad as that now, but there’s an echo.
So this week I have become the Butt-Kicking Battleaxe as one thing after another goes not according to plan.
Housing benefit application lost in translation, can I provide the documentation again. I will need to bring I.D and all the original documents into the council offices for approval. We'd been told a month ago that it was all being processed, but apparently someone had made a mistake and this is not the case.
The key-safe I requested two weeks ago. Written application handed directly to the new housing officer for Nick's area, “mislaid”. Whoops. Thankfully the social worker has pulled out a few stops and organised a temporary one so that the carers don’t have to wake Nick up and get him stumbling to the door to let them in for his morning call.
The new carers from Care4S (another pseudonym, natch) have yet to prove themselves but don’t impress so far by twice not turning up til 11am to help Nick dress and administer his morning meds, then returning just an hour later to do his lunchtime call.
One of them has such a phobia of cats that she hardly dares walk through the door in case she sees one of them (and there was only one of them until last night!) and won’t go in the bedroom because what if a cat leaps out from under the bed. She’s supposed to be helping him dress, wash and undress every day this week. In his bedroom. I feel sorry for her but my brother’s needs have to come first.
It’s clearly not going to work out so I ring the company to voice my concerns.
“He could put the cats in another room when carers arrive” is their advice. No. I don’t think so.
He is severely impaired and cannot do anything of the kind, hence needing care in the first place. And besides, it’s a one bedroom flat!
It is inappropriate for this carer to be coming here in these circumstances and I will leave it to you to make a different arrangement, I say, repeating myself slowly and firmly in the old broken record stylee.
Broken record doesn’t work with the TV installation company who fail to turn up for the third day running. Aside from wasting hours waiting for them, only to be told at the eleventh hour that they can’t make it today, Nick is terribly disappointed. Like so many housebound people, he relies on the TV as a companion and friend and was really looking forward to one of his special programmes tonight. I am incensed on his behalf and ring the call centre to complain. I had already negotiated a discount to make up for their first two no-shows, by now I think they owe me compensation for lost time as well as an apology. Fat chance. The call centre girl couldn’t care less. I ask to speak to a supervisor. Sorry, the supervisors have left for the night. Well of course they have! I let off steam with a blistering online review of their rubbish service but it doesn’t get Nick’s telly fixed.
Meanwhile a friend texts to tell me about her father who was admitted to hospital after a fall and was later discharged without his clothes, specs, personal papers and very expensive specialist hearing aids. Unfortunately they had all been mislaid. The hospital will look into it but can’t accept responsibility for lost property, it is up to the patient to look after their belongings. She is hopping mad as well as grieving for his helplessness and frailty and I completely understand.
It is immensely tiring as well as tiresome to be fighting all the time to put things right for a loved one who can’t do it for themselves, especially when someone was actually employed and entrusted to organise it properly in the first place.
It makes me so cross that when the TV aerial company or a council officer fail to do their job they can just walk away for the night and still get paid, while family carers have to pick up the pieces in their own time, which is already taken up with so many other duties of care and often when they’re already exhausted. Not paid to do it, doing it for love. In time that is so stretched that it would make your average public servant look like Richard Branson lounging in his Caribbean hideaway in comparison.
And it's the unfairness of it all that gets me in the gut, that someone like Nick who already has so many odds stacked against them should be at the mercy of sheer carelessness and - well, that's just it isn't it - lack of care. I care, and they say that love can move mountains, but it still won't set up a TV aerial or authorise a housing benefit payment. It's back to the to-do list and the phone calls and the begin again, Finnegan.
It is a long, exasperating business but I guess this too shall pass and it will all come right in the end.