Should you feel guilty about a relative going into a home?

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8th April 2019

Choosing to move a relative into a care or nursing home is a difficult decision that can lead to guilty feelings. One of the sources of the guilt is the conflict that the responsibility of caring for the loved one is becoming too much, while feeling that turning to professional care will be ‘letting them down’.

Often this decision can come at a time of crisis when an illness is progressing and daily interventions are required, particularly when coping with a loved one with dementia.

Gez Ossai, home manager at Wentworth Court nursing home for residents exclusively with dementia in Cheltenham, is used to reassuring relatives who have realised that a family member needs residential care.

“Feeling guilty is a really common issue. It’s sometimes heightened by the fact that people wait a little bit too long before making the decision to look for a care home,” says Gez.

“I understand why they do it, it’s because of a sense of duty. The mum, dad, husband, wife used to say, ‘shoot me rather than put me in a home’ so straight away the family is immediately feeling the pressure and guilt because they know that person did not want to go into a home. But there is a time to recognise when you have done as much as you can and its worth considering professional help.”

Do those fears and anxieties settle down?

“In the early days, the guilt is really evident,” says Gez, “but after a few weeks what they find is that the loved one is really being looked after and they don’t have to do personal care, such as coping with incontinence; they don’t have to feed or hydrate him or her and when they come to visit they actually get to spend quality time with their relative.

“We take over the more challenging aspects of care and now all they are tasked with is helping their loved one by enjoying time together. Simple pleasures such as sharing a pot of tea and relaxing in our gardens, with the team on hand to help out if required, can be reassuring and enjoyable.”

The team at Wentworth Court are used to seeing the journey from guilt to relief and often witness the primary carer, usually the spouse, son or daughter, blossom when the worry of day-to-day care has been lifted from their shoulders.

“While the resident is our primary concern,” says Gez, “we also have a duty to look after and reassure their loved ones, because when we do that, everybody benefits. They are not letting go of the care of their loved one to us, we work together as a team.”

Choosing the right home is the first step in meeting the loved one’s changing needs. You can read more about choosing a nursing home for a family member with dementia here.

Interested in finding out more about life at Wentworth Court? Give Gez and the team a call on 01242 263334 or pop by the home at Village Road, Cheltenham, GL51 0BG.

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