Looking back over the last week, I understand why I feel so completely drained. A week ago today, I had a phone call from the home to say Dad had been missing for half an hour. It was 7:45pm, raining and dark. I immediately went into panic mode. My Dad’s home is set in beautiful surroundings on Hembury Fort hill, but not beautiful at night with a very unwell seventy-eight year old man missing. As Clive and I drove up to the home, the Police helicopter was circling the area. At that point, I went to pieces. As we arrived at the home, a colleague of my Husband’s was there. He was asking me lots of questions. The sniffer dog arrived and Bugsy told me to stay by the home so I didn’t confuse the dog’s scent. It all felt overwhelming for me. I was calling out my Dad’s name. I felt sick to my stomach.
The staff at the home were amazing. The day staff had been called back in to help with the search. Dad had managed to get out of a resident’s ground floor bedroom, through their patio doors. I blame nobody for this. If Dad had been determined to leave, he would have left regardless of extensive measures to keep him there.
As time went on, I repeatedly kept telling myself that this was not how my Dad’s story was going to end. It rendered me utterly helpless.
An hour had passed, then a call came over the Police radio to say that a man fitting Dad’s description had been picked up by two Paramedics. He was walking on the A30. I was trembling to the core. I couldn’t believe he’d been found. When the ambulance arrived at the home, I’d never felt such relief. Dad walked up to me, looked at the Paramedics and said “Aw here she is, here’s my Soph.” I could not stop hugging this little hero of mine.
The Police believed someone had picked him up. However, when they’d realised he wasn’t well they’d dropped him off in Honiton, without alerting the Police. How bloody irresponsible, but I’ll never know who they were. As Dad was sat in the home, surrounded by Hats, Al, Bugs, myself and the staff, he was telling us how he’d fallen in the road a couple of times. To say he was lucky that night, would be an understatement. He was wrapped in a blanket the Paramedics had given him, and he was eating carrot cake and drinking tea. I knew we had been about half an hour away from the Dartmoor Rescue team being called out. As we drove down the hill towards home, I just could not stop crying.
Louis had paid for us to go away for the night the following day. It was a Silver Wedding gift. I didn’t feel up to travelling to Hampshire in the aftermath of Dad’s disappearance, but knew Bugs and I needed to get away. The whole journey there I was receiving calls from all the relevant services. Then came the call from our Social Worker telling me that the home could no longer keep Dad safe. It completely floored me. Finally, Dad was in a beautiful home, where I knew he was being looked after. However, it’s not a locked home. It has an open door policy. Since Dad arrived at the home, they have had to implement safety measures, but this is not how they advertise their home. I get it. It’s just so sad that he now has to be moved again.
Louis had booked us a night in a lovely hotel in Bournemouth. We drove on to Barton-On-Sea and we parked outside my Grandparents’ former homes. I just felt lost. I wanted to be that carefree child again, with no responsibilities. I always feel I’m home when I’m in Barton. This feeling was overwhelming in this moment. We walked the length of the beach and I felt an emotional wreck. It was so lovely to have quality time with my Bugsy, it’s something we rarely have these days.
This week has been meeting after meeting, phone call after phone call. I feel so burnt out right now. We have had to endure difference of professional opinion regarding Dad’s mental capacity, whereby the Deprivation Of Liberty Safeguard Assessor deemed him to have capacity. Matched with the Psychiatric Doctor’s opinion that he has not got capacity. By Friday, a decision was made that he has a fluctuating mental capacity, therefore a Deprivation Of Liberty Safeguard has been put in place for his best interests.
I must have heard the word “complex” so many times this week. I’m sick of the word. However, Dad’s situation is complex. His Dementia and Biopolar are not a good partnership, with the lines between them becoming increasingly blurry. I’ve been shouting for three weeks that my Dad’s mental health is causing him these episodes. Whilst the services have been arguing it’s his Dementia. Three weeks ago, Dad was banging his head against his bedroom wall in a bid to end his life. He told Hats and I that he couldn’t cope with how his head felt any longer. This was devastating to hear and a clear marker for a mental health episode. Then his disappearance was caused by Dad needing to walk to Seaton to buy “shaving tickets,” again evidencing an episode.
On Friday morning, a familiar voice from Social Services phoned me. She’d been my rock last year when Dad was first taken ill. We’d since been allocated a different person, but equally as lovely. As soon as I heard her voice, I cried. She’s one of those warm, generous people who genuinely care. I miss my Mum’s love and empathy so much, this woman’s call was just what I needed. She told me that all the services had to listen to me, as I’m the one who truly knows what’s going on for Dad. This call lifted me from a dark place on Friday morning. She is in charge of finding homes for me to visit to see if they’ll suit Dad. I know we’re in safe, empathetic hands.
During a meeting this week, it was agreed that Dad needs to get out more to raise his mental health. We’ve not thought we could take him out, until now, because of the upheaval of his recent move. Hattie and I took him for a very blowy walk along the seafront, and then back to our favourite haunt for lunch. It felt amazing having that time with Dad. It’s just a balancing act with Mum. She needs us too, but I cannot take them out together. I’m very aware that Dad’s decline is rapid. He’s so aware of his deterioration. I know we need to raise his mood, before Dementia puts him in a bubble of unawareness. His current awareness destroys me. I fucking hate how my intelligent, life-loving Dad is at the mercy of two evil illnesses. Fighting for him to have some sort of quality of life is my main purpose right now.
Words aren’t enough to express my gratitude for my family. They are my rocks. I have cried so many tears of frustration and grief this week.
I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who went looking for Dad last Sunday. It’s such a lovely community. I love the people of Honiton. In moments of utter distress, people step up. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re all such treasured and loved friends. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx