By Marianne Talbot
I could watch only about ten minutes of the BBC’s Panorama report on the cruel treatment of vulnerable elderly patients by staff at Winterbourne View care home until, in tears, I had to switch off.
It was too close to home, and brought back too many vivid memories of my beloved mother Lesley returning home from her respite ‘care’ of the Winterbourne View variety.
At the time I had been delighted to get a week of respite. Caring for someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease isn’t easy.
Traumatised: Marianne with her mother Lesley before her respite care
But I had missed Mum while she was away and was looking forward to her arrival in the special transport bus that would bring her home.
I had cooked one of her favourite suppers and there were flowers from the garden on her bedside table.
Fatcat, her enormous tabby, was curled up on her bed. She’d be even more pleased to see Mum than I was.
As the bus drew up, I saw Mum. She was staring out of the window, her face white and drawn, hands to the glass as if trying to escape.
She looked utterly, despairingly miserable. The memory of her face will haunt me for the rest of my life.
When the driver helped her out of the bus, Mum caught sight of me. She burst into heart-rending sobs, and fought desperately to get to me.
She virtually threw herself from the bus into my arms, saying: ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m a bad person, a very bad person. I want to die.’
It took five weeks to stabilise my mum. It also, in my opinion, hastened her deterioration into end-stage Alzheimer’s, in which individuals lose control of even the most basic bodily functions.
Marianne's story continues....
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