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How to Keep in Touch when in a Care Home

CBN

New member
Jun 26, 2018
9
I'm really struggling to keep in touch with my MIL, who went into a care home at the start of Covid and would love some advice on if what I'm experiencing is normal.
My MIL is 59 and went into hospital when her partner decided he couldn't cope anymore. From there she went into a care home. Because this all happened at the end of March she went into the home which would take her rather than because we looked at a few and decided it was the best fit. It is a home which specialises in dementia so we felt confident that it was a good choice.

Since she went in I have persevered with keeping up regular and consistent contact but it's a struggle.and the rest of the family have all but given up.

Initially we were advised to call at certain times and to send cards, letters and pictures and messages through her tablet along with video calls and messages. If I call the care home 2 times out of 3 the phone goes unanswered, my messages to her tablet were looked at for a few weeks but stopped being opened after that and video messages from all the family remain delivered but unread since April. I have no idea if my physical letters are opened or read and as each week has passed phone calls have become increasingly worse. She is supposed to be guided to a quiet space so she can hear properly and helped with holding the phone the right way but that has never happened and a good call now will be 30 seconds where she will say please help me, I don't belong here before an alarm goes off or another person starts shouting and she gets distracted. I've been told by one carer we should stop because there's no point, by another that it upsets her and makes her harder to 'deal' with but by another carer that maybe next time will be better. Her decline has been so fast in the past three months, I can't help but feel that that not being able to have contact with her family has been a massive factor. She is a very proud grandma and while she couldnt always remember just how many she had she was still very interested and happy to chat about them to anybody.

I'm definitely not having a go at her carers, they're doing an amazing job in really tough times but I wanted to get a feel for what others experiences have been.

From what I can tell the care home is going to be locked down for months and I don't know what to do anymore. I know in normal circumstances we could go in and it would be better. Everything I've been told by her various doctors is how important it is to keep the memories alive and the sense of family and who she is strong and it feels like that's impossible now and she's fading faster than she should be. I just want to know if this is normal before it's too late to do anything about it
 
Last edited:

lemonbalm

Registered User
May 21, 2018
566
Hello @CBN . It's all pretty difficult at the moment. My experience is slightly different, as mum has been in her care-home for a long time. I used to visit every afternoon, as it is only a short drive, and although I didn't always see mum, I did get chance to speak to the staff. My mum is in what I consider to be a good, small, dementia specialist care-home. I no longer try and speak to mum or video call her because she can become very distressed. Even though mum has been at this care-home for 2 years, she is often very unsettled (to put it mildly). Before the lock down, I took it for granted that any calls to the home would be picked up but I have noticed recently that the 'phone is often unanswered. and I have been unable to get through at all this week. Occasionally, I can get a chat with a carer in the early evening, after "supper" but before most residents' bedtime. I know how busy they are so don't like to complain.

I send a card to mum every week with some chocolate or a cheerful DVD for the care home.

It's a bit different for you as you don't know your mother in law's care-home as well as I know mum's. From what you say, it doesn't sound as though they are doing a great job of keeping in touch or giving you a straight story on how best to do so. I would be tempted to contact the care-home manager with your concerns. It could just be that contact with family really does unsettle your mother in law. That is very common, although extremely hard for the family.
 

Susan11

Registered User
Nov 18, 2018
2,421
Mum's CH has set up a Facebook page which shows regular photos and videos of the residents. Yesterday there were 2 photos of Mum after she'd had her hair done. She looked lively and was smiling. The hairdresser went in for the first time yesterday. I have been emailing photos and my daughter has been sending Touchnote postcards which they chat to her about and have put on her wardrobe door. I ring twice a week and have a chat with the carers about how Mum is doing . Although it's a regular care home many of the residents have dementia. Mum can't manage the phone. The carers tell me they talk to the residents about their relatives so they won't forget who we are. I do feel they're doing their best.
Susan