One of the weights we bear is our responsibility as carers for people who are often either incapable of communicating at the most basic level, or of managing to help themselves. Even the best of care homes cannot have the personal knowledge we have of our loved ones. When I arrived to see Jan today, she was on her side in the padded room, as usual. However, after a very few minutes I realised that she wasn't making even the normal sorts of noise she makes when attempting to communicate. Looking at her, I could see that she looked a bit under par, and more particularly that her tongue looked strange, as if there was no tip to it. Then I saw she was having some trouble in taking in air. Nothing critical, just uncomfortable. I called for the duty nurse, who was quickly followed by the home manager - when one visits regularly, they know there must be something wrong if a relative observes something they may have missed. Both agreed that Jan's mouth was very dry and that her tongue was swollen. A call was put out for the duty doctor. Meanwhile, they took a swab from Jan's mouth [difficult because anything one puts in there is assumed to be food and she clamped her jaw upon it!], then used a liquid to moisten her mouth. I then fed her some strawberry "Enlive", and she started to move her tongue more normally. Point of this little story is that our knowledge is unique. Often it is thought that a carer is no longer a carer when the one being cared for enters a care home [Wow! lots of care in that sentence!] Not so, of course, and the lot of our loved ones can be made easier by our maintaining a caring role by regular visits. Also the fact that we are not so tired through doing the caring ourselves means that we are that much more alert to spot problems - that someone who has been on shift for 8 hours may miss. All the time I was there today I spent administering to this one problem, but it was time well spent!