Katharine Whitehorn in care home

From Katharine’s son Bernard.  Sent to Barbara Hosking and forwarded to Bob Chesshyre


A little more than three weeks ago, Kath, suffering from a chest infection and oddly unable to walk without pain (possibly connected to a series of falls), was admitted to the Royal Free Hospital. She stayed there for about 10 days, and had a course of intravenous antibiotics, which cleared the infection. The pain in her legs subsided but she remained frail and unable to walk unaided by a frame. She was also more than usually confused, which we had hoped might improve as the infection went, but sadly hasn’t, much.

After a lot of thought we thought that this was now the time to see how she got on in a care home. Her carer, Mia, had begun to feel that it really was the next move for her. The only alternative would have been much more extensive 24/7 home care, and modifications to the house. Even with this help, given her confusion, it would still have been very hard to keep her safe in her 4-floor house.

So, grasping the opportunity (for once) to do something at the right time, rather than too late, we found her a place in a care home near to where I and my wife Nancy live, in Finchley, north London. We weren’t sure if she’d complain, or if she’d improve, and we have kept open the possibility of her moving back home, difficult though establishing a suitable care regime would be. To be honest, I feel that even if she could be at home for a short while, it wouldn’t be long before she’d be back where she is now.

It’s not a bad place: quiet, clean, bright, and non-smelly. The carers aren’t exactly from Kath’s demographic, but then a) very few people are, and b) that’s how care work is mostly staffed in this country, as it will be until the profession starts to attract better pay and higher esteem. She seems to be well-cared for, and so far at least, hasn’t complained or expressed a desire to be anywhere else.

My brother Jake has come over from America for an extended visit, and he has been managing things when I’m out of town, as I often am at the moment. Either he, I or Nancy have visited, often more than once, almost every day since Kath’s been there. A few other friends have come too.

I’m sure Kath would welcome any visitors, even if – as may well happen, I’m afraid – she doesn’t seem to recognise them. She doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, most of the time, and also quite often speaks French. I’m not sure why. But she’s still there, somewhere.

The home is called Dell Field Court, 1 Etchingham Park Road, N3 2DY, and this is its website: https://www.fremantletrust.org/dell-field-court

Below is a map of where it is. It’s about 10 minutes walk from West Finchley tube station, on the Barnet branch of the Northern Line, and the road doesn’t have any parking restrictions. The home itself has some parking spaces which I haven’t yet seen full. If you come by tube, the station exit is actually on Nether St., whatever it looks like on the map. Turn right, right again into Essex Park, and follow the map. Kath will probably be in the 1st floor dayroom or in room 24.

Jake is on 07941 643864, and I’m usually on 01298 873 120. Nancy is on 07986 559325.

Thanks very much for your concern. Alzheimer’s is a very cruel disease, but Kath is lucky to have friends who still remember, and care about, what she has been, and what she has left.