Sunday, 28 August 2011

The end of the line, or the light at the end of a tunnel?

I'm very fond of my 87yr old uncle. We share a birthday and the prejudice and discrimination he has experienced in his life is one of the drivers of my own campaigning. He's gay, increasingly infirm but still up for a challenge.

Recently, he broke his hip and spent two weeks in hospital. Then, discharged before really ready he lasted a day at home before returning to the ward briefly, only to be discharged again. This time he was placed in an old folks home.

Dennis and I have often talked about old people's homes. His mother, my granny, died within days of being placed in one. It was not for her and so she opted out. I feared that history was about to be repeated. But, old folks homes have changed.  What I found when I returned from holiday and visited Dennis surprised me.

He's in a new home operated by Runwood. I'd heard they were good and I now I know it. Spacious, modern, efficient and with really nice staff, the place was not quite as I'd imagined it. Yes there is the inevitable lounge with loud TV and a row of drooping, dribbling old ladies, but there's also a lot more.

I took in a portable TV and popped to Comet to get the digital box I needed. One of the care workers set it up for us, finding a SCART lead because  I'd thought there was one in the box. They're going to spend time with him every day getting him confident on his feet and the plan is to have him home again within six weeks.

Like so many things, this was no where near as scary as I had imagined. Old folks homes don't have to be the end of the line. For some, they are the light at the end of a long dark tunnel!