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Care & carers

Interfering friend

(51 Posts)
SallyDapp Mon 30-Jan-17 16:11:48

My DH has an elderly aunt who we helped find a lovely care home for a couple of years ago, since then we have been left to deal with everything for her from selling her house, paying the home care costs (from the house sale money), sorting her pension and benefits and buying everything she needs day to day. My DH visits her weekly. Most of the remaining family disappeared as soon as it looked like she might need help. However she has just one friend who visits her but she upsets the care home staff with her bossy ways and constant criticism. Aunt is now 95 and isn't the pernickerty person she once was although she is still stubborn and always right! , She doesn't like changing her clothes or showering and it is this which the friend finds difficult. The care home, like us, are of the opinion that we can't make Aunt shower or change if she doesn't want to, she has the right to make her own choices (this is a care home not a nursing home) and she shouldn't be forced into doing something against her will, as long as we provide the necessary like clean clothes, soap, shampoo etc which she hoards and offer active encouragement then the rest is up to her. Friend disagrees and starts arguments with the staff every time she visits. How do I tackle this without Aunt losing a rare visitor.

kittylester Mon 30-Jan-17 17:19:58

I assume the friend is of a similar age to your Aunt so the Care Home staff should be able to deal with her. In you position, I would apologise profusely to the staff and make gentle jokes about the 'silliness' of the friend.

Can you contact the friend and sympathise with her regarding the problem and ask her not to argue with the staff?

You can't force your Aunt to do anything.

Christinefrance Mon 30-Jan-17 17:45:23

I would have thought the Care Home staff would not only deal effectively with your Aunt's friend but also with the issue of personal hygiene. Too many care staff relinquish responsibility under the guise of " allowing the individual their independence " I have been involved in Residential care and staff training previously so I am aware of the difficulties.

Ana Mon 30-Jan-17 18:22:01

How would you have dealt with an issue of personal hygiene then, Christinefrance? The care home staff do have to respect the residents' rights - and they don't all respond to hints that they might smell less than fragrant!

rosesarered Mon 30-Jan-17 18:35:51

OAP dragged screaming and kicking to the shower.....I can see the headline now.
A problem, but the old lady may listen to somebody who she really likes and trusts, your DH surely, as she is his Aunt?

kittylester Mon 30-Jan-17 19:17:45

Unless the Aunt doesn't have capacity then she can act as she wants.

Christinefrance Mon 30-Jan-17 20:03:16

I am well aware of individual rights Ana, I am not offering an instant solution . I do think carers often take the easy option by citing personal rights and freedoms rather than working with the client and the rest of the team to resolve an issue.

FarNorth Mon 30-Jan-17 20:54:37

I know what you mean, Christinefrance, having also worked in care. There are ways of being persuasive, that do not involve dragging, kicking and screaming.

I agree with kitty, the staff should be able to deal with the friend tactfully, even if she does say the same things every time she visits.

Is Aunt aware of her friend's views? I hope not.

Cherrytree59 Mon 30-Jan-17 21:07:48

Perhaps the lady does not like or is frightened of the shower.
My Mil has developed this fear since the onset of dementia.
She has gone back in time to when a strip wash was acceptable.
So we have decided to go a long with this.
She will only change her clothes if it is clothes that she recognises.
All the clothes I have bought her in recent years is a no no.
So I literally have to wash the same few items over and over again.

Another thought is that the lady wants her privacy and doesn't want to be showered with the help of staff and maybe would be happy to have a wash at a sink by herself with care assistant just outside the door.

SallyDapp Mon 30-Jan-17 23:40:31

The friend is about 20 years Aunts junior, they worked together many years ago. She is a very forceful, tactless lady (who I don't particularly like but Aunt does and that's what's important.) She makes her views more than known with Aunt and the staff and has tried demanding to see the notes to see what's being done, obviously the staff have refused. She refuses to speak to the nurse in charge preferring to bully junior care workers.
Aunt does the strip wash thing and has capacity to make her own decisions.
I'm thinking of suggesting the friend turn up with her swimming cossie and take Aunt into the shower if it's worrying her that much. Both my DH and I have POA for health as well as finance so there's little the friend can do but she is making it uncomfortable for everyone, I need some tactfull tactics really for talking to the friend without unsettling a visit, heaven knows Aunt has lost a lot in recent years and I don't want to have her loose even more. It so sad to get to that age and have nothing, I don't want her feeling undervalued as well. Give me a teenager any day! I can deal with those.
I worry that we'll end up with a 'best interests meeting' and Aunt will be the loser.

kittylester Tue 31-Jan-17 07:00:28

Could you tell the friend that she is upsetting your Aunt and, although you get her point about hygiene etc, the 'advice' is just to go with the flow - for now! if the friend is being awkward you are entitled to stretch the truth for the sake of your aunt!

Christinefrance Tue 31-Jan-17 09:01:31

Cherrytree59 your Mother in law is very lucky to have such a caring daughter in law, would that other carers were so thoughtful and understanding.
SallyDapp I agree with Kitty, ask the friend to go with the flow for the time being and you will review things in a while.

FarNorth Tue 31-Jan-17 09:13:43

As she is making her views clear to your DH's Aunt, could you arrange for the four of you to have a chat about it, so that you could ask Aunt to explain her point of view to her friend?

Maybe you could also find out if anything would make it easier for Aunt e.g. knowing that she is due a shower or bath on Wednesdays, or that the same member of staff will always help her (I don't know if she needs help).

Bluegayn58 Tue 31-Jan-17 10:31:42

Sometimes a person who is overly outspoken will only respond to direct comment. Hints will be ignored or not even register.

If the friend is upsetting staff, that is for them to deal with. I'm sure they'd have procedures to follow and if not they should have.

Would it be possible for you to visit the same time as the friend to see how she behaves? If so, this may be a way of confronting her behaviour directly. I don't mean having a row about it, but point out being rude to staff isn't really helping your aunt.

Christinefrance Tue 31-Jan-17 10:38:52

Yes Bluegayn, you are right, the lady who is complaining should be referred to the Home Manager, there should be a laid down complaints procedure if she wishes to go that far. Sounds like Sally's Aunt is keeping herself clean so no need for such concern I would have thought.

br0adwater Tue 31-Jan-17 11:03:10

My advice would be to seek a meeting with the care home manager and say how troubling you find this. My guess is that this is not the first time that a resident has had an annoying friend. Tell them in confidence that you support their approach to the showering issue but don't want to tackle the friend as she is a valued visitor in other respects. They will probably reassure you that there's no need for you to do anything, just carry on supporting aunt and staff.

Mauriherb Tue 31-Jan-17 11:07:52

Maybe you could ask the friend to let you know of her concerns rather than complain to staff, explain that you are dealing with issues and it would look bad for others to complain about the same thing. Also explain that as you have POA the staff will only act on your instructions not hers.

EmilyHarburn Tue 31-Jan-17 11:14:39

This is the idea that comes to my mind on reading your post SallyDapp. I think this may be a case where you should try to channel this persons concern about your aunt's welfare into a more constructive area i.e. as they were work colleagues talking through the things they did together looking at photos and going out in the car, if the friend drives and your aunt can get in, to a local tea shop or whatever interests your aunt.

When you know what you would like the visitor to be doing with your aunt on her visits and your aunt has agreed. I suggest you are there on an occasion that she arrives. You have a chat with her about how you an your aunt appreciate her visits, then go on about how lovely it would be if and explain the plan.

Then go on to how glad you are she is so concerned about aunt's welfare but that she should let you know her concerns not the staff as you are the LPA welfare and arrange the payments for the service. Advise that you prefer to be contacted by email. (you will not want to be bothered by phone calls.)

Then finish on something positive such as your aunt did enjoy her friends Christmas card, visit, present etc. and how kind of her to put aside the time to visit etc.

When your aunt's friend fails to stick to this agreement about emailing you not bothering the staff. You remind her of the chat with date, day time and place and that you are the one to receive emails.

All the best Emily.

radicalnan Tue 31-Jan-17 11:17:40

I too have worked in care. Old people are often shower / bath resistant and do not relish the daily boil wash of their bodies that we better plumbed generations do. They often had a once a week bath in a tin bath and they survived.

I feel for you both, the friend is obviously looking out for her and wants the best for her etc. but that best may have altered now she is frail and prefers to keep her clothes on. I also agree that care staff can be very lax about using powers of persuasion as it saves them work.

Maybe just a chat with her friend would suffice, older people often fear falling (even in supported ablutions) or embarrassed, old just cold and tired by the whole palavar......your relative clearly has resistance which is not at all uncommon, maybe the friend could support staff in their efforts?

Formal complaints make life more difficult all round and are best avoided unless there is real concern. I can tell you now once I am 70 I am taking my vest off for nobody !! Not long now.

Tessa101 Tue 31-Jan-17 11:35:05

I think I would talk to the Aunt and ask her how she feels about her friends comments about insisting she baths etc. After all she's still got all her faculties.

AnnaC Tue 31-Jan-17 11:41:46

Hi SallyDapp
As you and your DH are the people with 'responsibility' for your Aunt I do agree that you and the home have to 'manage' her friend and HER views as to what your Aunt should be doing re bathing /clothing and make it clear that the decisions are those of your aunt. And then make it clear that the more fuss she makes about it the more it is / will distress your Aunt.
Caveat is of course that your Aunt is competent in making her choices, which appears to be the case. However, while it is your Aunts right to be cared for in the manner of her choice, respecting her right to dignity and choice, might it be worth exploring why she is being so determined not to bathe or change clothes? There may be some relatively straightforward explanations and barriers which can be sorted.

cc Tue 31-Jan-17 12:27:05

I wondered if the staff expect to bathe your Aunt, or if they would expect her to bathe herself?

henbane Tue 31-Jan-17 12:32:00

Many old people don't like showers - once my mother got to the stage of having to sit down, she couldn't adjust the position and said it was like having a bucket of water thrown over her repeatedly. Using a flexible hose instead of a fixed head type might help with that.

However, if Aunt is having a strip wash regularly she shouldn't really smell - after all until showers became common fittings most people had a strip wash every day and that was it, occasional bath if you had a bathroom.

Perhaps the problem is more to do with the clothes - can you focus on getting her to change more often? "you've got some gravy on your jumper, shall I wash it for you" etc. Though if it's underwear it's more of a problem - once my mother needed incontinence pads she saw no need to change her knickers as well! Buying her new ones, getting her to try them on and then whipping the old ones for washing worked but you can't do that every day!

WRT friend, I agree with other posters that having a tactful word with her is all you can do really. Tell her she's upsetting Aunt & say something like, you know how stubborn old people are, if she thinks you're getting at her it only makes her more entrenched, etc

And well done you - I hope if I get to that age I have someone like you to care about me!

Sheilasue Tue 31-Jan-17 12:34:39

Has th friend got family or relatives you could discuss the matter with? If so perhaps along with you they can talk to her.

mags1234 Tue 31-Jan-17 12:53:47

I had similar prob with my mum and dementia. As long as your relative is doing a strip wash it's hygienic , so you need to explain your relative is washing every day and that is fine by your aunt , staff, and yourself, that you appreciate her concern but that's the way it is staying. But it's difficult about the clothes. I so hated seeing my mum with dirty clothes on but she insisted on wearing them and most of her carers said they had to put on the clothes she wanted. One career however just put the clothes into the washing machine and laid out fresh clothes for the morning. Could the care home not just quietly take dirty clothes away and put them in a bag for you to launder, and lay out fresh ones? You could tell them what her favourite clothes are. Prob you d need to put request in writing. You could tell your aunts friend you are working on this problem . It's not easy, good luck.