In her younger years Patricia, now in her late 80s, travelled the world as a professional juggler; from Las Vegas to London, in the 1940s and 50s she did an act with her father, an international artist known as ‘Stetson the Mad Hatter’, and Patricia became the highest paid Lady Juggler in the world. Over the years, she performed with many famous people including Vera Lynn, Tommy Cooper, Yehudi Menuhin, and Edith Piaf entertaining the likes of Winston Churchill at the Lido Casino in Venice, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in Cannes and Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Grace in Monte Carlo just before their marriage.
Patricia is kind, gentle, warm and sociable lady living with mild to moderate dementia, which makes her anxious. She feels happier with company. Frailer and feeling less confident following a spell in hospital, she did not want to live on her own any longer. She was looking for someone who could have time to share a meal and have a chat or watch TV with her, as well as lending a hand around the house with light cleaning, technical support, and the reassurance of an overnight presence.
In August 2020 Patricia’s daughter Gillian approached Share and care Homeshare, and in September, Mich moved in to Patricia’s home to live there as her Sharer.
We spoke to Patricia’s daughter, Gillian, to find out more.
How did you hear about Share and Care Homeshare?
“I had remembered seeing something about homeshare on the television a few years previously, so I phoned Age UK and spoke to a lovely lady volunteer who sent some links to websites, including Share and Care Homeshare. I spoke to another company offering full-time live in carers, but I didn’t need that as I already had a lovely team of carers coming to visit mum on a daily basis.”
Why do you think the match works?
“It manages to put someone who had come across hard times due to Covid-19 and needed a roof over their head and the chance to get back on their feet, with someone who needed company. Mich is very educated and organised, and my mum is very easy-going; they are both the sort of people who together go the extra mile. I can’t believe my luck… was it complete luck or was it because of the careful matching?
What is your impression of the Share and Care process, service and support?
“I thought you were very supportive in every way. Straight from day one I felt I was talking to a friend – you were very good at listening and reassuring. When I phoned for the first time I thought, ‘What am I doing? Who am I going to speak to?’. I found myself speaking to someone who really understood and had empathy for my situation; it comes across that you really care about what you do, and the people. You made me feel that I wasn’t speaking to a receptionist, or a salesperson but to someone knowledgeable and reassuring and with good advice.”
How has it benefitted you as a daughter?
“The fact that now when I go and visit Mum I am walking into a happy home, which is a wonderful thing. It used to get me down going over to see mum as the house was so quiet. Now when I visit, Mich will always come join in with me or the carers, which means we bounce off each other and there is noise and laughter, interesting conversation and chit chat. It gives the house a lovely atmosphere and mum is happy to enjoy the warmth of this atmosphere and do her jigsaw puzzle.
“Before Mich came, mum would be in tears when I had to leave, saying she didn’t want to be alone but didn’t want to go into a care home either. Now when I drive her home after being at our house there is a light on in the bedroom; I am not taking Mum back to a dark and empty house, and because someone is living there, the heating comes on at the right time, things that are broken have been brought to my attention and replaced or fixed, messages get taken and there is even someone to open the door when tradesmen arrive. I am also reassured by the fact that I am not Mich’s employer – I have you guys. Also, I have a team of carers so should Mich be worried she calls me or them, so it works for us all. No one person has all the responsibility.”
What would you say to any other sons and daughters who are considering Homeshare for a parent, but are slightly nervous about going down a non-traditional route?
“Don’t be afraid to try Homeshare. If you run a Homeshare alongside other carers, or a cleaner, or family members, then you have a check-and-balance system in place.
“Share and Care is also so reasonable! For just £35 a week you are getting 15 hours of support, plus overnight reassurance. Even if you need to pay for some additional care support, you are getting amazing value-for-money.
“I tell everyone about you and I feel passionate about the Homeshare option. It has become clear to me that the Share and Care Homeshare way is the only way!”