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home real life family interview Danielle & Paul Langford
Danielle & Paul Langford

Interviewees name and age: Danielle (57) and Paul (56) Langford

Relatives name and age: Bill Langford (90)

Relatives career: Master Butcher at Dewhurst

Relatives condition: Unable to walk even short distances, needed full-time care

Care home selected: Maple Court (residential and nursing home), Rowley Park, Stafford, Staffordshire

Date relative entered the care home: July 2001

Can you tell us about the moment you had serious concerns for your relative's health?
After many memorable and happy months of looking after Bill a bout of chronic pneumonia left him very weak and totally unable to even stand unaided.

When did it become apparent that they might need a care home?
Moving Bill from his bed to the wheelchair, and helping out with the necessary daily routine required to make him comfortable was getting stressful for both parties and it soon became obvious that he needed 24 hour specialist care.

Why did you as a family believe a care home was necessary?
When it was impacting on all our lives and most importantly Bill’s health. We could not give him the level of nursing care that he needed and the uncertainty of knowing what to do was putting a lot of stress on his already weakened heart.

How did you and your family feel about the prospect of having to use a care home?
Though we will never feel entirely happy by our decision to put Bill in a nursing home, it was an unavoidable situation.

What help did you receive in starting the process of finding a home?
We wanted to choose ourselves so we vetted all the ones friends have used and praised in the past. However, some did not live up to our expectations.

Where did you look for information and advice? Was there anything that was particularly helpful you could recommend to others?
First of all, advice and recommendation from your local hospital is a very good starting point, and Yellow Pages was another port of call. We then researched various websites and found as much information as possible about the care homes. There are plenty of websites containing reports similar to the ‘Trip Advisor’ site.

What, if anything, frustrated you?
The waiting lists in some care homes were quite long. It was frustrating to think we might find the perfect home but there would be no room available.

How long did it take to find a home you were comfortable with your relative going to?
A few weeks of constant searching and visits to several homes.

How did you find it and decide it was the best location?
Through research and recommendation we eventually chose a nursing home close to where both families lived. This meant that we could take Bill back home on days when he felt well enough to travel. 

What were the key factors for you in choosing the home and what would you say are the priorities for selecting a home?
We visited many nursing, respite, residential and specialist care homes. Specialist care was the most important factor, closely followed by caring and pleasant staff, and residents’ wellbeing. Bill still had all his mental faculties so we wanted to choose a home that would not depress him and where he fit in well.

To what extent were you able to involve your relative in the process or explain it to them?
As Bill spent 21 days in hospital with chronic pneumonia and was incredibly weak he realised that we would not be able to lift him out of bed when he was discharged. He was more than willing to spend a couple of months in a care home until he was back on his feet and could come back to us (this is what we hoped for).

How long did the process take?
Approximately three weeks.

Was there any red tape that made the process more difficult?
The nursing home was more than willing to accept privately funded residents, but the fully funded NHS care waiting list was very long.

How did your expectations compare with reality once they moved in?
The nursing home we chose was an incredibly caring one where the staff were friendly and helpful and we felt comfortable in the knowledge that Bill would receive the care and attention that he deserved.

How often were you able to visit?
We made sure that at least one of us visited twice a day.

What support was readily available to you and your family?
The staff were very supportive. Nothing was too much trouble for the experienced and compassionate carers, and they helped him see out his final months in a dignified and comfortable manner.

How did you cope with the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that are associated with placing a loved one into care?
We could not help but be eaten up by guilt of betrayal to a father who spent all his life taking care of his family. It was very difficult to cope with this and still is to this day.

How did it affect the family?
We all missed him dearly but at least he was not too far away. The children missed not having their grandfather around, as he was great company.

What would you like to see done for others in your position?
Things have improved tremendously since we had to go through this difficult process. The Internet, with very informative websites is so helpful. Perhaps a website for local care homes where people can add their experiences, whether they be good or bad, would be very helpful.