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Moving to a care home - my mum’s experience

Katrina Fox shares her story about her mum Christine’s move into a care home - and how LIHH were there to help her.  

Katrina Fox did an impressive job of being a remote carer for her mum Christine for five years, putting technology and support in place. “I had Meals on Wheels and a cleaner/carer going in,” Katrina says. 

But after a couple of worrying incidents, she realised that Christine needed specialist care. “I admit I didn’t want to think about her moving into a home for a long, long time. I was scared,” Katrina says. “I wish I’d known what I know now.”

Christine was living in Thorner, Leeds, whereas Katrina is based in Wiltshire. “I explored every option, including selling up and finding somewhere we could live together. Of course, that wouldn’t have solved the care situation, and it would mean taking Mum away from the people she’s known all her life,” Katrina says. “It was a bit of a pipe dream!” 

Katrina and her mum Christine

So she started to do the thing she’d dreaded: exploring care homes. But when she found the home that Christine ultimately moved into, she was surprised. 

“There’s this perception that a care home equals bad,” she says. “But when I found Mum’s home, Wetherby Manor, I was blown away. It’s like a hotel. The carers and nurses are so welcoming - I love them. They’ve got all the specialist training and qualifications,” she says. “I realised I could never provide what they do - they exist for a reason.”

The home accepted Christine and her dog, Angus, and Katrina helped her move in one Monday morning. “The Alzheimer’s Society dementia support forum gave me lots of advice and tips for what to do on the day,” says Katrina. “When we got there, one of the ladies said very kindly, ‘Christine, would you like some lunch?’ - and she was off.”

After only five days, however, Christine had a fall and ended up in hospital. “It turned out she had pneumonia,” says Katrina. “She’d clearly had it for some time. I dread to think what would have happened if she’d collapsed at home with no one around. It made me realise I’d made the right decision at the right time.”

Katrina says Leeds Irish Health and Homes have been incredibly supportive throughout her mum’s move. “One of the things I was worried about was Mum losing her Leeds Irish connection,” she says. “But she’s had so many visitors - and Mary, an LIHH volunteer, has been too. Mum loved her outings to LIHH events and we’re making arrangements to get her back there once she’s fully settled.”

Clare Mone, LIHH, and Christine; Christine and LIHH volunteer Mary dancing; Mary, Angus the dog and a friend in her new home.

Clare Mone, Community Support Worker at LIHH has also visited Christine in her new home. “At LIHH, we feel very strongly that a move into a care home doesn’t mean the Irish community connection has to come to an end,” she says. “Christine is so proud of her roots, and her faith and culture are more important than ever.” Clare bought Christine some Irish gifts when she visited, including some Emerald sweets.

The process has been emotional, Katrina says. “I’ve cried buckets,” she admits. “But Mum’s made so many new friends - she’s thriving. She recognises people who are at a more advanced stage than she is and she tries to care for them. It’s what she’s always done. I’m so proud of her.” 

And, Katrina says, she feels like she’s thriving too. “I can be a daughter again rather than a carer,” she says. “I did miss just being a daft daughter. I’m proud of us both.” 

What advice would Katrina give to people facing the same situation? “I’d tell them ‘think of your parent’s needs before their wants - and even before your wants’,” says Kay. 

“Well-meaning people tell you ‘They go downhill in a home’, but that’s not been our experience at all. She’s in a beautiful place surrounded by love and people who respect her and care for her. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Katrina recommends The Alzheimer’s Society’s dementia support forum for practical tips and advice on caring for someone living with dementia:   


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