Flu jab & care home policy

Discussion in 'Middle - later stages of dementia' started by saucepan, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. saucepan

    saucepan Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    When we first moved Dad into his care home 15 months ago, one of the questions on the paper work was if we wanted him to have a flu jab or not. We couldn't decide and so said yes as it was the easiest thing to do. Then last year before we knew it, he had had one.
    We have thought now that we would ask for him not to have it next time (The guilt and awfulness of this decision is all terrible) but, acting as the voice of Dad, we know he wouldn't want anything to help prolong his life. I have been witness to him shouting that he wants to die.
    Speaking to the manager of the care home about it, she seemed shocked and horrified that we were requesting for him not to have it. Again, I felt like a monster, and explained that this would be his wishes. Only to be dismissed with the comment that every else would be having it and if he didn't he would be very ill.
    I feel really bad about all of this and I haven't been back since. I wonder why they put the question on the form in the first place.
    Has anyone else had any experience of this, or does anyone have any advice about what to do?
    Many thanks.
  2. Bigreader

    Bigreader Registered User

    Jan 22, 2016
    At the age of 90 I stopped taking my mother for a flu jab. By then she was Middle to Late stages and leading an existence not a life. I have never understood the 'keep them going at all costs' attitude as my mother would have been horrified if she'd been aware of what she'd become. Something had to cause the end of her life, and to keep pumping her full of drugs and vaccines to keep this existence going seemed wrong for her. Others may disagree and I fully respect their decisions.

    As for the Care Home, I have no experience with them so sadly can't help you on that. However, if you feel, as I did, that your father would not have wanted it then go with your gut feeling. I'm sure someone with more experience in care homes will be along soon.

    BR x
  3. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    My mum also refused hers in the last few years. One day the surgery even sent out a nurse and she told her to 'go away, how would you like my life, I don't want to be kept alive thank you' and that was the end of that lol

    I think I would put in writing that your Dad would not wish to have a flu jab and that you are acting on his behalf as prior to his dementia he and the family had had many discussions and you know he does not want anything that will prolong his life. Put in that you agreed to it the previous year because you were under the stress of moving him and did not take on board the implications of having a flu jab. I don't know where you stand to be honest - do you hold PoA for health and welfare and does he have a DNAR in place? If not and you know he doesn't want his life prolonged you need to add to the letter that you want this and that you would like to have a documented discussion about end of life care so that everyone is clear when the time comes.
  4. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    We've had this discussion on here more than once and the general feeling (mine included) is that getting the injection is the right thing to do.
    Bear in mind that the jab isn't anything like 100% effective (some figures go as low as 70% others nearer 90%), he will then be a risk to anyone in the home who is resistant to the jab.
    I'm sure he'd rather be left alone and let nature take it's course but I'm equally sure he wouldn't want to take anyone else with him.
    Sorry if that sounds a little harsh, but I can't agree with your decision, you owe it to everyone else in the home to consider what could happen to them if they get flu.
    You might want to be the "voice of Dad" but when other people's lives are affected is that really what he'd want, more company in the afterlife?
  5. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    I don't understand that really Kevin if everyone else is buying into the flu jab how will he be putting them at risk?
    Personally I don't think the flu jab makes much difference so I wouldn't worry about it too much, it makes me feel very ill for 5 or 6 days! I'll carry on having it cos it might work in my favour!
  6. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    Because it isn't 100% effective so someone who's had the flu jab could still get it through someone who hasn't. That is also why carers and care home staff should all have the jab. I'm sorry but I tend to agree with Kevin here, though I acknowledge it's an individual choice, and the manager has no right to judge.
  7. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    It is of course your right to choose, but I have had discussions with my mums care home and her GP that I wish my mum to be happy and pain free (she has Alzheimers and breast cancer) and I am keen on improving her quality of life not necessarily her quantity of life. I have also said that if something can be treated, she should receive treatment.

    For mum, the flu jab caused no pain or suffering but may have avoided her catching something that would lead to her deterioration (but not necessarily hastened her demise), make her feel awful at a time when she no longer has the capacity to understand what was wrong with her and led to an infection throughout the care home which may have had fatal effects for other residents. I would absolutely definitely want her to have it.

    For the record, yesterday an elderly friend and colleague died of complications following a chest infection. I would not under any circumstances want my mum or any of her fellow residents to have gone through what he and his family went through.

  8. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    Hi saucepan,

    You need to remember that the flu jab is not a cure but prevention. Even if all the other residents in the home had the vaccination, there are other people who visit who may pass it on to your dad. If you have ever seen anyone with real flu, not just a heavy cold, you would not run that risk for your dad. It is truly a dreadful disease that can be fatal for the vulnerable. I don't think you need to think of it in terms of prolonging your dad's life but of making whatever time he has left as painless as possible.
  9. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    To be honest I hadn't thought of it in the way that others expressed and it does make sense - i'd never have persuaded my ma to have it in a million years once her mind was set but I've changed my mind through these posts and I think that it is probably a good idea. However I still think you should have those discussions about DNAR and end of life with the home so that you and they are very clear about expectations and interventions
  10. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Let's hope saucepan might be persuaded too, it's about everyone in the home not just one person.
  11. notsogooddtr

    notsogooddtr Registered User

    Jul 2, 2011
    I agree,vaccination protects everyone and except in very specific circumstances should be considered.My father has DNAR but has had the flu jab,I don't see any contradiction in this.I would hate him to suffer a truly horrible illness like flu at this point in his life,I think a lot of people confuse a nasty cold with flu,there is no comparison.I'm fortunate that I've never had it thank goodness
  12. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    I have had 'proper' flu, so I know how debilitating it can be.

    However, for the last year or two of her life we said no to the flu jab for our mother - she as already well into her mid 90s and in a most pitiful state, and we knew her former self would have said a resounding 'No!', too. The last thing she would have wanted was anything that might seek to prolong her life as she was then, or prevent it from coming to an end.
    Nobody at the care home argued or tried to change our minds.
  13. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    #13 fizzie, Feb 5, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2018
    Awwwwwwwwwwwwww Kassy i hope you feel better x
  14. lin1

    lin1 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2010
    East Kent
    #14 lin1, Feb 5, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2018
    Kassy. Sorry to hear you have flu, I hope you start to feel better soon.
    I've had flu a few times and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
    Gentle ((((((HUG))))))
  15. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    Pre illness, would your Mother have accepted the flu jab?
    That is the criteria I worked by for my Mum.
    I don't have the jab, but she did. I have not caught flu recently, I tend to avoid people, unlucky enough to have been given it. Mum was not in the position to avoid anyone. She was not physically strong enough to have fought off the illness, had she contacted it. My worst case scenario for her was that she caught it, survived it and it made her life worse, giving her a weaker chest, weaker immune system and exacerbating her Dementia.

    I didn't look on her having the vaccination to prolong her life. I hoped that, by having it, her chances of an easier death might be increased.
  16. CJinUSA

    CJinUSA Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    eastern USA
    Because I work with lots of people, and because we have a number of care workers into the home now, I need a flu shot for my mother. As it was, one of her carers brought her a cold recently, which really sent her into a tailspin for about 10 days - sleeping, mumbling, incontinence, the whole nine yards.

    I think flu shots are essential for elderly people. Why run the risk of an ancillary illness when dementia is already in place?
  17. saucepan

    saucepan Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    Thank you everyone for your comments. I am really glad I asked the question and have learnt more about the flu jab and it's consequences from you all.
    I now think it would be best for him to continue to have it, as I don't want him to feel any worse and suffer more, and certainly wouldn't want him to affect anyone else.
    Thanks for all your help.
  18. saucepan

    saucepan Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    Now that I have checked your name, I really hope you feel better soon Kassy. Take care.x

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