My Dad’s a Goldfish – Don’t ask, don’t get – by Mary Smith

A must-read article from Mary Smith, for anyone caring for a family member with ill health or disability, particularly in the UK…

It is truly astonishing the amount of equipment required to allow someone to continue living in their own home when the person has dementia combined with mobility problems and other medical conditions.

Most things are actually available through social services or the NHS but it’s not quite as simple as putting in a request and receiving what is needed. For one thing, you don’t know what you’re going to need at different stages. The handrail by the back door, which was helpful when the Goldfish started to become a bit tottery but could still manage steps with his walking stick in one hand, was utterly useless when he had to use a walker on wheels. Try getting that, and him, down steps!

Also ‘they’ don’t always tell you what is available even though they are the ones supposedly trying to keep people living independently in their own homes. And sometimes what they provide is not what is needed.


The wheeled walker. Can you imagine getting it and the Goldfish down the steps at the door without mishap? And can you picture the Goldfish sitting on it laughing uproariously as I ran up and down with it?


The Goldfish couldn’t get to grips with the NHS model of walker, which doesn’t have wheels and can’t be pushed along the ground so we bought him a walker on wheels. We were advised to go for the four-wheel type, which has a lidded storage box which doubles as a seat if the person needs a rest. The Goldfish thought it was hilarious to be pushed around the house while sitting on his like some god-like creature while I sweated and built up arm muscles which would have been useful on a building site. He also once mistook the lidded box for the toilet – but we’ll draw a veil over that.

When the Goldfish began to go walk-about at night, one instance involved the police who reported it to social services. We were given a door alarm and he was also – after being found unconscious on the floor one morning – given a fall detector.

Then came the time when the Goldfish couldn’t walk any distance and we requested and were provided with a manual wheelchair. We still had the crazy performance of getting him down the steps and into the car, out of the car at our destination and into the wheelchair. By the time they were able to provide a banana board, which fits between the chair and the car seat, the Goldfish, although physically able no longer had the mental capacity to understand what he should do.

We bought various bits and pieces to help – a thing which hooked on the door so the Goldfish could pull himself in could double as a tool to smash the window if we had a crash. Finally, we bought a vehicle

Continue reading: My Dad’s a Goldfish – Don’t ask, don’t get | My Dad Is A Goldfish

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in family, reblog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to My Dad’s a Goldfish – Don’t ask, don’t get – by Mary Smith

  1. Mary Smith says:

    Thanks for re-blogging, Sue.


  2. Auntysocial says:

    It’s easier said than done and for many it’s a thought they won’t even entertain even if that means getting all need, deserve and are entitled to anyway.

    When I worked for social services our team was hospital based with social workers, safeguarding / specialist manager and NHS staff all thrown into one.

    I regularly tweaked things here and there, added an extra white lie and fib in parts and if the person was really being left to suffer I’d often flat out advise them to threaten total abandonment and leave loved ones for us to sort.

    At the mention of carers ditching, bailing and leaving because they’re unwilling or unable to cope you could guarantee there would be phone calls, arrangements and assessments made with a few days.

    Will always remember the poor chap I picked up the phone one morning and listened to him break his heart and sob like a toddler because nobody – not one single person was willing to help.

    He was a guy I asked permission to lay on a few extra untruths and make his Mother’s case work up to priority quickly and he didn’t are what anyone thought if it helped him Mum.

    By the end of that working week all the equipment. support, respite vouchers and a long-term social worker was allocated and in place.

    That you have to do all these things is absurd it really is but my advice is always lay it on thick with a big layers of thick stuff and the top off with a huge lovely dollop of something even thicker.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      You sound very like the one support worker we had who had actually worked in care for years and really knew the score… most of the others were fresh out of training and were very good at filling in forms… but wouldn’t know a hoist from a commode…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Auntysocial says:

        Hahaha!! Funny you should say that – I’ve been in the job 20yrs or so now and continually studied and researched and can make sense of the most complex legislation and tackle the endless mountains of paperwork much quicker and easier than most (previously a legal secretary to firm partners)

        The one thing I still can’t do is work out hoists or fit slings properly. I have really bad Dyscalculai (number dyslexia) which affects how my brain process things or doesn’t and I’m just useless. Struggle to fit a king size duvet but the one thing that is good about having an off bit of my brain is I check, double check and triple check because I’m never happy I’ve put the loops where they should go and to date I have never messed up medication, miscounted control drugs or anything else because I do it super… super… slowly and “DON’T TALK TO ME DON’T TALK I’M COUNTING!!!” super… super… carefully.

        Had horses my whole life too and even now I have to get head collars and bridles all set up as it were going on an invisible horse’s head because there’s just too many straps and bits and buckles. My daughter gets infuriated and just takes it out of my hands “It’ll be dark in five hours Mum gimme that” 😀


  3. Auntysocial says:

    That reminds me actually – social services arrived at the are home I managed once to see a lady whose application for disability living / attendance allowance had been recently filled out and they needed to verify the details or what was included

    Some not-nosed pimply-arsed lad with an attitude actually thinking he was smarter. quicker on his feet and anywhere near experienced or well equipped to take that on and come out looking good. The 90yr old lady he’d come to discuss wiped the floor in one sentence and that was his first lesson in never EVER underestimating these little old ladies and gents you think sit knitting and talking about the war and how much jar was when they were little. 😀


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I knew my great grandmother… she lived till just short of her hundredth birthday. I would never dream of…or dare to… underestimate little old ladies 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Auntysocial says:

        Amazing how many still think elderly ladies are all about knitting and Werthers Originals.

        I’ve seen many a paramedic or police officer blush at things said to them by what they assumed was a lovely little old dear. Won’t tell you what they said but it was rude!! 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.