Horsell Lodge - Making the decision about care together

5th November 2020

What made you decide to move Pat into care?

“I had been caring for Pat for the past eight years. In the early days, he was bed bound as he couldn’t walk after spending 16 weeks in hospital.

Lots of people looked at us and the impression we got was that they thought he should be in a care home,” said Linda. “Pat never said anything, it was the last place he thought he wanted to be. He was also worried about the cost.”

Linda explained, “Pat’s needs and the situation led to me being exhausted. I had been running on empty for some time. I also felt tremendous guilt even thinking about a care home, it felt like I was dumping him.”

Pat added, “I had had a heart attack, broken my hip and was paralysed down one side. My wife had been looking after me all these years and not after herself. I could tell it was difficult for her to suggest a care home but I appreciated the situation and agreed with her.

Linda did a fantastic job of caring for me. We’re still very much in love - I want her to be near, to see her once or twice a week and to speak to her on the phone but we couldn’t carry on at home.”

Why did you choose Horsell Lodge?

On recommendation of Crossroads, we met with Ann from the Alzheimer’s Society who was pleasant, down to earth and knew what she was talking about. Ann suggested we look at a number of homes, of which Horsell Lodge was one. We had watched it being built as we only lived across the road, but hadn’t actually considered it as we had thought it would be too expensive. It couldn’t be further from the truth, Horsell Lodge is poles apart from what is out there, but not in cost!

We had to take a leap of faith with Horsell Lodge as we had not been able to come in to visit or to meet the carers who would be meeting Pat’s needs because of the pandemic,” said Linda.

“The virtual tour was incredible, as were the brochures, but it is the people who matter. I felt happy with the Home Manager, who showed me he had a good sense of humour and I was able to build a rapport with him during the pre-admission telephone call.

The caring, professional side of both the manager and the Customer Relationship Advisor (CRA), Natasha, also came across. Since then, all the rest of the staff have also come up to my expectations, the care they show is exceptional.

When I was visiting Pat one time, I looked over to one of the carers who was really engaging and holding hands with one of the residents, unaware that anyone was watching.”

Pat added “ the staff are very impressive, thoroughly nice people, efficient and professional- the standard is so high.”

What was the moving in experience like?

Covid presented a strange situation. Not only could we not visit the home before, but we pitched up on the day with all Pat’s stuff and I didn’t go in then either. I had built up a good rapport with the CRA Natasha, found her attentive with the enquiry, really nice, answered all my questions and was nice dealing with me,” said Linda.

“We sat out the front of the home and it was very relaxed, we talked a lot, but at no time did I feel like I had to hurry up. I had also provided a few pages of information about Pat and I could tell that Natasha had read it, absorbed it and addressed it.

To drive off on my own was odd having never been inside the home, but Natasha kept me updated with emails and reaffirmed how lovely everyone was. When it all works out and your children say “aren’t we lucky”, you know you have made the right decision. Now, when I leave Horsell Lodge, I feel carefree and I know Pat could not be in a better place.”

Pat is also very happy with everything at Horsell Lodge,There was some hesitation because I had been in previous homes and I found so many things wrong with the staff and the meals but it is like a palace here and I am very, very happy. I can’t find any faults,” he said.

And have you been settling in well?

Pat continued, “The people here are lovely, superb. The staff are very respectful, they treat me really well. They are brilliant, hospitable and very attentive.

I am very easy going and patient. I appreciate when the staff have a more urgent situation than mine. I like to go to the toilet myself but I need help - the goal is to make my leg stronger. I am starting to walk more and more now through the encouragement of the staff, they let me do as much as I want to do myself.

The events are fabulous, thoroughly enjoyable, there is something to appeal to everyone. I really enjoyed picking up prizes.

I feel very settled, it definitely feels like it is “home” now. I am proud to be here, it is lovely and I feel so positive about the whole operation, everything is perfect.”

Linda added: “There is such a high standard when organizing the events, there are no half measures. There is something special in a home to go to such lengths. The staff at Horsell Lodge treat people as customers and value them and keep them on board. They invest time and energy and money to make it as nice as possible for the residents. It is more than just a business.”

Has it been good for your relationship with each other?

Pat said he was pleased to see his wife more relaxed and like her old self again. “It is much better that she can be a wife again rather than a carer. She is now Linda how she used to be. We are a close knit family, both my son and daughter also live nearby and come to visit.”

For Linda the new stage in their relationship is taking some getting used to. “It is an odd situation at the moment. From being together 24/7 to having such a brief period with him because of the Covid restrictions is very extreme but I know he is somewhere nice. I am certain he is happy, comfortable and looked after in the best way possible and that is a lovely, lovely feeling. This frees me up from both the guilt and the responsibility.

I have now booked to go to Lake Garda in Italy and to do a river cruise with my son from St. Petersburg to Moscow. I am trying to reconstruct friend relationships and will join the Horsell walking club.”

What would your advice to other care seekers be?

Linda’s opinion on care homes has changed since Pat has been living in Horsell Lodge.

“Before I had felt like Pat living in a care home would be as if I was punishing him,” she said. “However, the experience with Horsell Lodge has made me think why didn’t we do it before - this is not punishment, it is pleasurable! I had the wrong perception and was ignorant of how it can be. It was 100% the right decision for Pat to come to Horsell Lodge. I cannot tell you how happy we are and that it was here under our very noses and we didn’t know places like Horsell Lodge existed.”

Pat too has nothing but praise for his new home, “I would like to help in an ambassador role for potential clients. I could talk to the residents in an unbiased way. I would like to offer them a tour- I would tell them everything is brilliant.

Everything has lived up to my expectations and just as important- it is excellent value for money. I would definitely recommend Horsell Lodge to others.”

Don’t delay and don’t feel guilty

Linda says she delayed making the decision to get help with care for Pat for far too long and for all the wrong reasons.

“I delayed too long. I let myself get far too burnt out, “she said. “You are not sending your loved one into a prison but into an environment which is geared up to meet their needs. I am usually hesitant to recommend anything to anyone as it is subjective, but I would readily recommend Horsell Lodge- it has definitely exceeded our expectations.

Don’t put it off. It is the hardest choice to make and an overwhelming responsibility. Put yourself in your loved one’s situation – they don’t want to be tiring you out.”

“Relatives shouldn’t feel guilty,” said Pat. “Linda always made it clear that the final decision was mine and overall it has been an extremely positive experience. It is not a hospital but we have nurses and carers caring for us if we need them. You shouldn’t have any concerns and you shouldn’t be afraid to make decisions or to ask questions. There has been an improvement in the quality of my life both physically and emotionally. The key is to make the decision a joint one.”

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