Blog 51: The Social Worker

As it turned out, that walk that Bill took with the physiotherapist was all but the last that he took in his life.  From the Wednesday on, walking seemed to be a distant memory, Bill making no further effort to get out of bed or to move his legs.  The physio took him for one more walk on the Tuesday but Bill lurched and staggered as he went and she never came back again.  I think that she knew that that part of Bill’s brain, that part that had governed walking from the time that he was one year old, had shut down.  And it was like every other skill, every other function, that Bill had ever possessed.  When dementia shut it down, it was gone for good.

The hospital’s social worker asked to see me.  She was a different social worker to the one whom we had met in Emergency, but she was just as involved, caring and competent.  Bill’s brother came with me to the meeting and we three discussed, at length, Bill’s condition.  We came to the inevitable conclusion that Bill needed to go into a Care Facility.

In November 2011, at the suggestion of the ACAT assessor, I had put Bill’s name down on the waiting lists of five such aged care facilities and I had had, for some years, Enduring Power of Attorney for Bill.  The social worker was quite delighted to find that so much of the preliminary paperwork had been done.  I even had a mandatory letter from Centrelink attesting Bill’s assets and wealth.

The social worker began making the phone calls but most of the facilities on my list were full.  There was one very high-class nursing home that had a room but its administrators required me to provide a bond of hundreds of thousands of dollars…….$450,000.00 to be exact.  I said, “No!” I couldn’t bring myself to part with all that money at that moment.  Maybe I could in a few days time, but just then I needed time to adjust my thinking.  The social worker explained that the money was just a bond and that much of it would come back to the estate once Bill had died.

“This place is on your list,” she said. “You must have known about the bond.”

“No,” I replied. “I don’t recall that place ever giving me a monetary figure.  Others did, but not that place.”

“Very well,” she conceded.  “I’ll tell the doctors that, if you had to take that much money out of Bill’s wealth to pay for the bond, there would be nothing left to generate the one thousand dollars each week that must be paid, on top of the bond, for Bill’s care.”  I hadn’t even given a thought to that payment!

We looked at another place, as well, but the bed that was available was in a shared room, in very cramped quarters and, had I wanted to sit by Bill’s bedside, I would have had to sit in the room’s doorway.  As well, that space which Bill would have occupied was fairly dark, light being kept out of it by the drawn curtain which separated Bill’s space from the room’s other occupant.

I felt a bit pressured to take the place.  Bill, after all, was taking up a bed in the hospital.  Luckily, my sons were with me as we inspected.

“No, Mum,” they said.  “This is not for Dad.”

So, once more, I told the social worker: “No!” and, after we had paid Bill one more visit, we went home, leaving him there, yet again, in the hospital.

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a blog about my dementia journey


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