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He wants to move on (but not to a care home!) and has packed up his belongs, but he has dementia and doesn't understand what is going on any more. After 3 years of progressive care-giving, my husband and I are beyond ready to have our home and our lives back. Any suggestions how to ease the transition?

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I'm glad he is settling in and that you have your life back, and those ambivalent feelings sound familiar. I'm not sure I would want to do the camping any more at my age, but I have fond memories of camping at pacific rim national park during my cross county trek 30 years ago :)
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Hi cwillie. Short answer is: Yes. Longer answer is that after waiting 12 weeks for his "emergency placement" we gave up on Vancouver Island Health (VIHA) helping us and found him a spot in a nice small private care home just 1/2 hr from us! We really liked it, a lovely personal home with space for just 8 care patients, nice staff, farm animals, beautiful grounds, his own furniture, and some personal belongings. He didn't like it though, and to be honest, it didn't feel like a good fit for him. Cost $3,500 was low end because Ernie is still physically fit, but that would go up as high as $6,500 as his care needs increase. He'd only been there 2 weeks when VIHA called to say they had a bed for him at Oak Bay Lodge, in Victoria. You have to occupy the space within 48 hours of the call, so we made a quick trip there to have a look. Victoria was our least preferred location (1 1/2 hours from us) but the OBL has a good reputation as these places go. It is quite institutional, 235 beds, 96% of patients have dementia. Ernie shares with 1 other man, eats in a smallish dining room on his wing/floor. Most activities are on the main floor, but he won't be able to go to them unless/until he can find his way around. He has only tried to escape twice, that we know of. He was hiding stuff, and thinking it was stolen, so now his shaver etc. are locked up to prevent that. He says he is eating well and sleeping well. We have been to visit, and we phone him every few days; they don't discourage that. He looks good and sounded better than he had on the phone last time we talked. We sure hope it is the right place for him and we'll visit as often as we can. We feel sad for him but totally thankful to have our home and our lives back. We're just home from a 3-night camping trip in the forest, on the ocean. It was divine!
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Hi Dector, I'm wondering how things are going. Have you gotten a placement yet?
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Thank you cwillie. I know it is a crazy, broken system. We used to have wait lists some years ago, but for some reason we don't any more, probably because nobody would ever get to the top of the list unless they were in hospital already. Yes, there are differences between provinces but currently VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority) manages placements on a priority basis, hence taking first from the hospital beds, then from other emergency situations. They say that my FIL is top of the emergency list, but obviously that isn't really working for us. This is why caregivers eventually give up and basically drop them off at the hospital emergency ward like a "dog at the pound". It is disgusting. (I am a financial planner, and we do minimize taxable income where possible, but there is only so much we can do. Pensions and RRIF withdrawals are taxable income, no matter how you slice and dice them.)
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No wait lists? How does BC manage to pull that off? There has to be a list somewhere even if it is an unofficial one because people like your father are obviously waiting and should certainly be placed ahead of someone who started looking yesterday. And you have to pay 80% of income for a shared room? The strange thing about our supposedly universal healthcare is that it varies so much between provinces, now you have me doing some online research! (I'm in Ontario) Financial planners there must have a field day making sure everyone's money is in investments that don't generate any annual income.
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Thank you freqflyer. I do hope we will be able to take some personal belongings to his new place, but that will depend on the space available. About all he seems attached to now is flashlights and batteries, maybe a couple of special photographs, a few music CDs. And some really ancient clothes that he doesn't wear but won't get rid of either! I've also heard to wait a bit before visiting. He has spent a few days here and there in residential respite care, so it will be similar to that, I guess. He found that very difficult at first but has improved a bit each visit.
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Dector, one thing I read on the forums here is once Dad is placed in a new home, don't visit him for a couple of weeks. Reason for that is for him to get familiar with the place, the Staff, and meet the other residents.

Are you able to take some of his furniture or are these homes ready with a bed, dresser, closet, etc? Take Dad's bedspread if it isn't too big. And try to bring as much as you can of things that Dad likes. My Dad loved his books, he had 200 of them, so there was space for his bookcases and all his books, that made him happy.
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Thank you for your suggestions SusanA43 and cwillie. I notice most of the members in this group are in the USA so, even tho we have similar issues with our loved ones, your system operates differently than ours in Canada does. (I don't presume to know how yours works, but I can say "Be careful what you wish for"!)

We don't have 'wait lists' for care homes in British Columbia, Canada any more. Of course we would prefer to relocate my FIL to a nice private room in a nice facility not too far from where we live. But the reality is that there are extremely few private pay rooms for dementia patients, and those that do exist are prohibitively expensive for most of us (Cdn $6,500 + per month). There are quite a few private pay Assisted Living facilities in the area but they won't take my FIL because of the dementia. So we are having to rely on our socialized medical system to find a space for him in a publically subsidized care home. That will cost him 80% of his taxable income, about $3,000/mo probably in a shared room with 2 or 3 other men. We will take any suitable (i.e. secure) space within a 100 mile radius of our home. (We live in a small town so we have NO facilities here.) We were told that flexibility regarding location would shorten the wait to 1 - 3 months, depending on how many care home residents die (to free up spaces) in the meantime. Here is part of the problem: families get fed up with waiting OR the patient ends up with a medical emergency which puts them in hospital. Hospital beds are more costly for the government than care home spaces, so the hospital patients get placement priority over other people waiting to get into a care home. In fact 75% of placements in our area are from hospital beds. Several people, both within the medical system and outside of it, have recommended we just take my FIL to the hospital and tell them we can't handle him at home any more, and leave him there. But that approach is just wrong on so many levels that we haven't been able to bring ourselves to do it. On the advice of someone who works in a large care home, recommending that we be the squeaky wheel, we are now following up with the case worker weekly. But I worry that might be the opposite of helpful. We are so frustrated with our broken medical system, but think we are doing all we responsibly can.

So my questions is/was, if/when he eventually gets a space (!!!) have you any recommendations how to ease the transition to wherever he'll be?
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Where I live emergency placement only guarantees that his name gets placed at the top of the waiting list, and in the most desirable facilities the wait list can be very long. Have you asked how often openings typically come up? Are you just applying to one place, or are you willing to consider other facilities?
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9 weeks seems awfully long for "emergency" placement. Can you talk to the care home to find out what's causing the delay? Ask if they truly have a place for him, and if there's something you can do to expedite the process - or if you should look at placing him elsewhere.
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