Mrs Figg and her husband had settled into their twilight years. Retired from their jobs, stable and relatively well paid – employment the likes of which the youth of their social background today could barely dream.
In widowhood, Betty Figg further led a full and active life.
By a long tale abridged, Mrs Figg, diagnosed with dementia, found herself in the tentacles of her local social services department in Coventry. They put her in the Butts Cross House Nursing Home.
Butts Cross House, you’ve seen the sort on the radio.
The type of establishment that heaps obloquy upon disgrace.
Shame upon tragedy, Betty, a lady who was young at heart, was among folk with advanced dementia. She was afforded the same mental stimulation one would confer on a Christmas tree in June. Physical stimulation, including sunlight, was scant. In such an environment, she barely spoke. The residents were treated like battery hens.
Betty’s daughter, Rosalind, wanted Betty home for Christmas. Even if the accommodations at Butts Cross House were the sort that would have The Dorchester being regarded as billets for the financially embarrassed, like you, I would rather my mum were home for Christmas.
Butts Cross House was no Dorchester. Butts Cross House folk would lust for a Premier Inn. Butts Cross House made youth hostels the object of envy.
No surprise, the bureaucracy of the local council rushed to accommodate the request at the speed attributable to a bride being walked down the knave on her wedding day.
(The expression ‘walking down the aisle’ has no foundation in architecture. That central path down the middle of a church is the knave. Thank you. )
Rosalind gave the nursing home a month’s notice of her intention to take her mum home. That such marathon notice be required for an expression of filial affection is a bafflement.
Rosalind, recognising her mother’s failing health, packed in her pottery business to care for her mother.
She and her partner, Christopher, adapted their house. They fitted out a ground floor bedroom with en-suite bathroom and wheelchair ramps. They got a bed with an alarm that would wake them if Betty got up in the night.
Meanwhile Betty developed an illness that caused her to be admitted to hospital. She was discharged prematurely – at the prompting of the social services people, to the care home. Rosalind mused: ‘It was heart-breaking. I felt as though my role as next of kin had been taken away from me – as though my mother had been stolen.’
She took her mum home.
It’s hard to see how I’d have acted any differently had I been in Miss Figg’s position. The care home staff threatened to inform the police. In writing this I studied the most recent two Care Quality Commission reports on this nursing home. The inspections were held in November 2017 and November 2016. You couldn’t hate anyone enough to wish him or her to end up at Butts Cross House.
Please, Use My Phone
Several years ago, I was in an altercation. My adversary threatened to call the police. I offered her the use of my telephone. I invited her into my hallway so she might speak to our local constabulary. That’s the way I roll. Rosalind called the police herself. I imagine just to ensure there’d be no bother. The ladies and boys in blue assured her it was a civil matter – nowt to do with them. So far so sensible.
Blues & Twos
Commotion and excitement up and down the street. Panda cars and police vans. Four bobbies, one with a battering ram, accompanied the social services people in their quest to execute a warrant to detain Betty Figg – with the object of returning her to Butts Cross House. Betty was grabbed, a blanket thrown over her head as if she were child molester. It’s on YouTube.
The ugly matter was resolved. In the end. In the long end, Betty went home.
Let’s recall Miss Rosalind Figg’s observation – that her role as next of kin had been usurped. Notwithstanding the council’s gangsterism, the role of ‘next of kin’ in this context is moot.
Now, if Betty, while of sound mind had granted power of attorney to someone, I suppose her daughter, this drama’d ne’er have occurred. Said Rosalind: ‘It’s my mum’s right to live – and die – with her family.’
With a lasting power of attorney for health and welfare, the fighting talk would have had the force of law.
She’d have been able to put her foot down. End of.