‘Not enough time’ to find a new day care home for St Albans woman with extreme Alzheimer’s

Audrey and her husband.

Audrey and her husband. - Credit: Archant

A severely ill woman needing extensive support has been told to leave her care home “without time to find an alternative”.

Ninety-year-old Audrey Love’s Alzheimer’s has been deteriorating since 2001 and she needs full-time aid from her carer son Andy in order to survive - to communicate, to walk, to eat and drink, and to function.

For three days a week Audrey went to Caring Homes’ The Orchard Nursing Home on Camp Road for a change of scenery, to benefit from its specialist equipment, and to give Andy respite.

But he said he received a letter on September 8, dated September 1, to inform him that Audrey’s place at The Orchard is no longer available because refurbishment works were about to start - and she had to leave by September 14.

After disputing this, the care end date was pushed back to October 4 but Andy says it is still not enough time for him to find an alternative placement, which he considers deeply upsetting, especially given the home is aware of how far gone her illness is.

Her disease is past the initial memory loss associated with Alzeimer’s, and Andy says Audrey is totally reliant on him and his family. He says this has kept her condition reasonably stable over the last few years.

“It’s too short, given the severity of my mother’s case and the fact that any change to her care could have dire consequences, they should have given us more notice until we had found alternative day care arrangements elsewhere - unless of course Caring Homes were either closing The Orchard or it was becoming a residential home only.

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“It’s devastating for us because obviously my family do not have the room for all the personal hygiene facilities she needs at home, so to lose The Orchard we would lose the bathroom and care facilities she enjoys there.

“It’s also very stimulating for my mother to be going out of the family home three days a week - going out on the bus, being around different people and importantly for me it gives me a little bit of respite because I have never had a holiday as a full time carer.”

Andy quit his career in accountancy to care for Audrey full time in 2013. He works 6.45am to midnight every day to support his mother and 97-year-old father, who also has health issues.

“It’s extremely stressful because I am trying to protect my mother’s life and all these facilities - like those at The Orchard, the carers, the doctors - they are all part of a support system keeping her stable and comfortable.

“She’s fully aware of me and my family and these relationships help to keep her eating and drinking. She wouldn’t last very long in a full-time care home.”

All of the care homes Andy has contacted so far cannot accommodate Audrey’s needs on a day care basis.

He added: “It’s deeply upsetting but we have to keep strong because at the end of the day my mother needs us around and we want to be with her.”

A spokesperson from The Orchard said: “Mr Love requested a particular period of notice for his mother and the home was happy to agree to this.

“In any circumstance where we need to give notice on providing day care, we always work with family members and other relevant agencies to provide time and support to find alternative suitable provision.

“On this occasion, we offered to help despite the notice period not yet having expired.”