Friday, June 20, 2008

Reason to Smile

Reprinted here from Karen McVeigh's piece in the Guardian. Cheered me up no end:

The son of an elderly widower who could not find a drinking buddy has provided him with two new companions after advertising the post at a rate of £7 an hour, plus expenses.

When he moved from a flat to a care home 20 miles from his old stomping ground of Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, Jack Hammond, 88, a radar technician during the second world war, struggled to find someone suitable to have a beer with.

As a last resort his son Mike, 56, put a notice in the post office asking for someone with similar interests or background to accompany his dad, a former charge engineer at a Lancashire power station, to the Compass Inn in Winsor, twice a week for a couple of hours.

He was so inundated with offers - including one from a 16-year-old - that he interviewed candidates by phone before asking a shortlist of three to join him and Jack for a trial drink. The successful pair, Trevor Pugh, 78, a retired kitchen fitter from Southampton with a military background, and Henry Rosenvinge, 58, a former doctor, will now spend several nights a week with Jack chatting about military history and current affairs.

Pugh said: "I like having topical discussions and meeting new people and I'd be happy to take him down the pub and enjoy a chat ... we are both ex-army so we have that in common."

He will accept the £7 an hour to boost his pension, but will not claim the expenses.

Rosenvinge, from Lyndhurst, Hants, will do the job for free. He said: "He has a lot of stories and we are both from Lancashire so we have a lot we can argue about. I'm looking to come once a week for a couple of hours but we will be careful - we know what our limits are with alcohol."

Jack's son Mike, a chef in Brockenhurst, has no regrets. "He would rather have found his own friends, but he is limited in what he can do. It has opened a Pandora's box about what happens when you lose your independence ... care homes offer trips to garden centres but don't really cater for individual needs."

He said his dad was too old-fashioned to consider going to the pub with other residents because all but one were women.

"Ideally, he wanted me to take him out seven nights a week, but as much as I love going for a pint with him I can only manage a couple of nights. He'll now be going several times a week - three with his new friends and twice with me."

When asked if his dad was happy, he said: "As people get older, they don't show their emotions as much. He's not showing he's happy, but before he was showing me he was miserable. He's not doing that any more and to me, that's well worth it."


Anonymous said...

I heard about this on tv and was very interested. My blog is about the financial aspects of care homes and how the elderly pay for their care. I did lots of research and with much 'fighting' with mum's local health trust managed to claw back a little of her money. I also retained her home.

Alana said...

I heard about this on tv. My blog is about care home charges. I managed to claw back a little of mum's monthly payments to the care home and also managed to retain her home.

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