I met with a constituent of mine this evening. He wanted to discuss some "problems" with me. Little did I know how difficult the conversation was going to be.
My constituent was in his seventies with a wife of around the same age. In the last few months, she had begun to show signs of dementia. He had immediately tried to have her assessed at a local NHS facility, but this had taken much longer to achieve than he at first thought. The reason for this, NHS staff had told him, was "cutbacks" - in budget, in staffing levels, in capacity.
Now his wife had been assessed, her condition had worsened and he was now told to look for a permanent residential care placement for her. And so the search began - for a residential care home which could handle clients with dementia. Somewhere that could cope with his wife's worsening condition, so she wouldn't be shunted from home to home as her condition became more complex.
And, because their finances exceeded £21,000 excluding property, they would be "self funding", although he did say that the NHS would contribute to the costs if weekly costs were greater than his level of disposable income.
His dilemma? "All the good local homes are full - there's no space anywhere. I don't want to put her miles away. And I'm driving myself mad thinking that - if there is a spare place - maybe that home isn't very good. Why does it have spare places? Why isn't it full up?"
I referred him to some KCC professionals who should be able to help him find a good placement for his wife, as well as our Online Care Directory - you can find this at http://www.kent.gov.uk/SocialCare/adults-and-older-people/residential-and-nursing-care/.
But I suspect none of us would want to have to make the decisions my constituent is having to confront, for all the tea in China. It's an impossible dilemma.