Case study: Caroline

Caroline now has two carers. Veronica stays for three weeks at a time and Margaret stays for one week. It has made life much easier for her.

Written by Lauren, Caroline's cousin:

Veronica turns, lifts her arm in the air, and strikes a pose, as if she is walking down the catwalk. And Caroline laughs. At 80, my cousin Caroline is still very stylish.

She has a diploma in art and design and taught art for a while before leaving for London in the swinging sixties. She worked for an international company there on their colour design team.

I remember the Christmas she came home wearing a silver lamé mini dress and silver tights. I was a teenager, ten years younger, and just thought ‘wow.’

Caroline and I were great friends, and very close, we were always  there for each other. We used to go to the theatre and on holiday together.  When I lived in Paris, she came to stay with me.

She was a lot of fun, with a real interest in people. Caroline went to Glyndebourne, Wimbledon and Ascot, she went on cruises, and spent her life getting dressed up and going out. If a restaurant opened in central London she was there as soon as she could get a booking.

In November 2019 Caroline was diagnosed with dementia. And the following March she came back home to live in Northern Ireland. Day to day activities were concerning for her and she had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes which was proving difficult to regulate.

She was also lonely on her own in London. Her husband had died early in their marriage and she didn’t have children.

Caroline returned to the family home, the house that her father built, and a house that was always full of life and laughter. It was the home she had grown up in and this meant change was kept to a minimum. Caroline has never liked change.

Now she sleeps in her old bedroom which has good memories for her. The paintings she remembers are on the walls and there are pictures of her parents on the side tables. There are pictures of Caroline taken through the years too and looking as stylish as ever.

Caroline isn’t living somewhere that is strange to her. She knows the butcher where she has always bought her meat. In the garden there’s still the vegetable plot where she wants to plant potatoes.

I am ten minutes away from her and she has a strong family network.

Caroline has always been a very sociable person and has always needed company. We thought it would make life easier for her to have a companion in the house. We also felt it would be useful for her to have some ongoing support with shopping and cooking.

Jackie, who visited me from Bluebird Care, was interested in helping to find the right solution and, as well as being extremely professional, was understanding and easy to chat to. I was making decisions on Caroline’s behalf and was grateful for her warm advice and knowledge of live-in care. Bluebird Care took copious details about Caroline’s background, career, interests and personality and I really appreciated that.

Caroline now has two carers. Veronica stays for three weeks at a time and Margaret stays for one week. It has made life much easier for her.

I believe that being able to stay in her own home, with control over how she lives her life, is vitally important for Caroline’s wellbeing.

For someone who has had a demanding career it is good for her to feel she is still organising her life to some degree.

With a live-in carer Caroline can decide when and what she will eat, and what time she will get up and go to bed.

The carers help her with washing and dressing. They clean and cook and shop, and they keep the place absolutely spotless.

Caroline likes to wear something different every day and the carers help her to choose her outfit. They have a great time together matching the colour of her scarves with her cashmere sweaters.

She also likes to have her hair done and when the hairdressers were closed Veronica bought some rollers and did Caroline’s hair for her every week. She thought it would cheer her up.

Veronica is very bubbly, a real character, and Caroline has always had a good sense of humour too.   In the middle of Caroline’s confusion and frustration Veronica can make her laugh and lighten the mood and she is always finding ways to make Caroline bright again.

She takes her on walks every day down to the river or to the parks or the little corner shop that Caroline has known all her life.  Caroline will tell her about the pony she used to have and the stables that used to be there before the houses were built. If Caroline wants flowers, they walk to the supermarket together so she can choose them.

Veronica calls her ‘my lady.’ ‘What would my lady like for her meal?’ she’ll say. Veronica washes the dishes, and Caroline dries them. They play scrabble and dance together.

There’s a great bond between them. If I ask Caroline a question and she can’t remember the answer she’ll look at Veronica. Caroline leans on Veronica for her memory, she trusts her and looks to her for reassurance.

Margaret is absolutely perfect too and is also very kind to Caroline.  They both go that extra mile.

Bluebird Care has made such a difference to Caroline’s  life and to mine. I know that Caroline is safe and has somebody with her. And that puts my mind at rest.

NB.  The customer names in this article have been changed to protect identities.

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