Very often, the time when your children leave home is also the time when elderly relatives need more support.
In 2014, when my son Rory left for university, I had to make some decisions about my aunt who was living alone in Hertfordshire.
With no children of her own, and her husband having died some years earlier, I couldn’t just allow her neighbours, who were also becoming frail, to continue to look after her. She needed to be near her family. With other nieces and nephews living further away, it made sense for her to be closer to me.
She moved up to Spalding that autumn and we helped her settle into a super little retirement flat in Georgian Court. Despite regular carers coming in and the support of the lovely house manager, my aunt’s needs were increasing and, within a few short months, we realised she needed to be in a residential home with 24 hour care.
Anyone who has been through this will know how hard this can be for all parties. Finding somewhere you feel is safe and clean is vital but you also hope to find a home from home, a place which doesn’t feel clinical or regimented.
That place was Abbeygate Rest Home in Moulton. From the first day my aunt moved in, initially for some respite care, the worry of looking after her started to lift from my shoulders. There was something so comforting and calming about the atmosphere in the home that I knew my aunt would be looked after with dignity and compassion.
Last week I was sitting in the residents’ dining room, helping myself to a delicious slice of cake and chatting to other relatives. I was attending a meeting for relatives and residents, where any issues could be discussed with Ian Canham, Chief Executive of Broadgate Builders, who are owners of Abbeygate, and the manager, Donna Bailey.
During the evening many people in the room took the opportunity, without being prompted, to say thank you to the team for the care that is provided. Relatives expressed their relief that they had found suitable accommodation for their loved ones.
One lady told us how her mother had been given a new lease of life, enjoying all the activities available to her. Residents themselves spoke up and told the group how much they enjoyed living there.
I know first hand the mixture of emotions you have when you make the decision to take a relative out of their home and into care: guilt and anxiety can envelop you. But when I visit my aunt I’m always reassured by everything I see. All the staff are a credit to the home: I hear them chatting cheerfully to the residents, whether they are hoovering around them or bringing them a cup of tea.
Popping in recently, seeing the home decorated for Christmas, there is a genuine feeling of welcome. The residents look warm and content: the staff are smilng. I’m reassured I did the right thing.
• You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk