Wednesday, 27 February 2013

"But they said all I had to

do was ring them and they would send someone to help!"
The younger cousin of the friend who had the stroke has, I think, been stunned by the lack of support from official sources. I did try to warn her.
While her cousin was in hospital they promised that, when she went home, there would be a range of support services available. They made it sound easy. Yes, help with this and that and something else would be available. Respite care would be available in an emergency and for medical appointments for the younger cousin who has health issues of her own. Other respite would be available following an in-home assessment from another agency. Here were other services to access and numbers to phone etc etc.
You want to go home? Of course you do. It's the best possible place for you. As long as we put in place all these services it will be much better than going into a nursing home. Yes, of course we are going to do it and no it won't take much to arrange.
I tried to explain that it would not work like that. Another friend with similar experience of our health and welfare system also tried to explain.
"But they said...." 
We tried to explain that they would say one thing and do another. They would in fact say almost anything in order to get the younger cousin to agree to having the older one home before she was ready to go home. Once there then trying to get help would become more and more difficult.
And, of course, it is working the way it always works. The help they need is not there. It will never be there. The rest of us are doing what we can but most of it will fall on the younger cousin.
The older cousin cannot be left alone now. That means finding someone to stay with her while the younger cousin goes to the dentist - or have her sit in the dentist's waiting room and wait. It is better to have someone stay with her because she gets confused and anxious outside the house - even in the all too familiar surroundings of the doctor's surgery she has problems. 
There are still endless medical appointments and, to complicate matters further, most of them are on the northern side of the city. Currently there are streets blocked off and parking is even more restricted than usual because there is a street car race - the "Clipsal 500" being held. It inconveniences a lot of people but for those trying to get to medical appointments in the area near the race or just north of it (where many specialists have rooms) it is even more difficult. They need to use taxis - an added expense - because there is no means of leaving the older cousin while the younger one tries to find a parking space which probably will not exist.
Yesterday morning the younger cousin could not get the older cousin out of bed - one leg kept collapsing when she tried to stand. The younger cousin phoned one of the numbers she had been given to request some advice even if they could not send help.
Their advice was "well find someone to help you". She ended up out in the street. The neighbours were at work. A passing tradesman saw her distress and offered help - which she accepted.
I know my sister will go there today in her professional capacity and show them how to handle the situation if it occurs again. Had she been home yesterday she would have gone then. 
But it seems to me that this is all beside the point. The younger cousin is exhausted. She has not had a break since the Friday before Christmas - the day the stroke occurred. She went to the hospital and then the rehabilitation centre every day - for hours at a time - because those places were short staffed and her older cousin was so dependent. Her older cousin was sent home before they had any support services in place. Those services will probably never be in place.
The younger cousin cannot believe that there is so little help available. I know only too well how little help is available. It is why the health clinic we belong to employs (part-time) a nurse who does an in-home assessment for older patients. It is done as much for the benefit of the health and welfare system as it is done for the patients. It is about saving money rather than spending it.
As the younger cousin has discovered it is not about phoning a number and asking for help or whether you have paid taxes all your life. It is about how the government can save money by having you do it all yourself. And yes, it is the same everywhere - but it still makes me angry.

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