Service to advise families on care for elderly relatives launched near Sidmouth

Christina and her mother Annie on Christmas Day 2010. Picture courtesy of Christina Maisey

Christina and her mother Annie on Christmas Day 2010. Picture courtesy of Christina Maisey - Credit: courtesy of Christina Maisey

A woman who fought to get the best possible care for her ill and disabled mother in the last years of her life is now using her experience to help others.

Christina Maisey said it was ‘one of the most challenging things’ she has ever done and at times it was ‘heartbreaking’.

But she learned about the support and funding available – both when her mother was still living in her own home and later when her illness and dementia made residential nursing care necessary.

Christina, who lives in Whimple, has now set up Annie’s Care Advisory Service, named in memory of her mother, Annie Nicholas, who passed away in 2016.

The challenges of the last years of her mother’s life opened Christina’s eyes to the problems in the social care system but also provided insight into how to cope with them.

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She now wants to pass on what she learnt the hard way.

She said: “Hopefully, I can tell people about the mistakes I made, the pitfalls I fell into, the things to look out for.

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“There is a lot of help out there, but people don’t know where to go first, who you ask and, most importantly, what to ask for.”

Her advice includes not accepting everything you are told.

She said: “At every opportunity, we were told we wouldn’t get the medical funding for residential nursing care we thought my mother needed, and I was told by several health professionals, ‘don’t bother, she’s not ill enough, you need to be at death’s door to get that funding’.”

But, Christina did manage to get funding and thought it was ‘crucial’ that, while her mother was still in her own home, that she herself acted as the link between her mother, the health professionals and social care workers.

This meant any medical problems could be nipped in the bud without the need for a hospital stay.

She is urging anyone with an ageing parent or partner to seek advice before the need for care becomes urgent.

Christina said: “Please don’t wait until you reach that crisis point, because then you’re up against it. That’s not to say I can’t help you at that point, because I certainly could, but seek help early if you can.”

One final piece of advice, she says, is to try not to let the responsibilities of organising care for an elderly relative completely dominate your relationship with them.

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