The Little Girl in the Radiator (Mum, Alzheimer’s & Me) – Martin Selvin published by Monday Books

Hi everyone

This is a powerful book review read, written by one of my blogging students.

I haven’t read this book, but I can relate to this post, because I was not happy about the way my Grandma was treated in the nursing home, which she died in last year, on Friday 13th of June. There were a few staff who was nice to her, but when she died, the chair in her room was riddled with wee stains. When I went to visit her one day she was upset when I got there because they refused to take her to the toilet in the night. When I confronted a nurse about it, she said the residence go to the toilet before bed and one other time at 3am, she has a pad to pee into. It was disgusting and it makes me angry they treated her that way. There was a lot of stuff I was not happy about in that nursing home and I am so glad that she no longer has to put up with that.

What I don’t like, is society seems to think that memory loss (dementia) is a blanket term for anything that person (with dementia) says, is not true, because they don’t know their own mind. This is not actually always true. It can be an excuse for the nursing home to treat residents like, how can I put it politely, with no respect or dignity (worse than they would treat an animal) and use the un-‘fact’ that their mind isn’t working properly, as an excuse to fool the families who only like to think good about the home. I could ‘see’ what was really happening and some people dear to me, couldn’t or chose not to. I have never spoken to you about this before. I have kept it a secret and moved on with my life. I could not prove what was happening, the owner of this private nursing home, seemed not to care. I had meetings with two Managers and was under threat with being banned from the nursing home for, it would seem, interfering.

I could tell you more. I could tell you about the fact they kept residents in the lounge waiting to go to the toilet, and poor old (S) had to wait twenty minutes before they came back to take him. By that time he had pulled his trousers down to reveal his pants, he was that desperate to go. This was an occurrence I had seen before, including the pulling down of his trousers and a half an hour wait. An insider also confirmed that one nurse did shout at residents. Just as I suspected things were not as they seemed, they weren’t.

So, I have finally come out with what you weren’t expecting. This book review has sparked me off in this direction. It’s amazing what the power of the written word can do.

Keep writing and keep blogging, keep being you and trusting your gut instincts, despite what anyone else says.

My Grandma would want me to move on with my life and fulfil my goals, ambitions and dreams, not waste time trying to prove the nursing home did wrong. I had no solid proof anyhow. That is why more than ever I want to accomplish everything I set out to do in my life, so she will look down from the heavens and say ” that’s my Sandra and I love that kid.” I haven’t cried about my Grandma in ages, but now I am. I miss her and love her so much. It’s my birthday on Friday 24th of April and that was the last time I saw her before the night she died. My Grandma didn’t have that much dementia when she was with me – in terms of memory, she remembered and told me about a birthday card that she had written for me, prior to my birthday, and asked me did I get it. I said no it wasn’t my birthday yet, but thanked her so much. If she wasn’t in her ‘right mind’ she wouldn’t have remembered this. I have unconditional love for my Grandma and did then too – It’s this that eased her mind. I told her she had memory loss, she was 96 – So how much of her condition was dementia or simply loss of memory due her age, I guess we will never know. What I can say, is the doctor was called to the nursing home when I was there one night. The doctor said it was not dementia that was causing her such confusion, but the fact she was dehydrated from lack of fluids that the nursing home was responsible for giving her – Again – An outsider would not think about stuff like this. I have the ability to see things that others can’t. Sometimes I can see things for as they really are.

So next time you have a relative or friend in a care home and the care home staff are blaming the ‘dementia’ for what your friend or relative is telling you is bad about being in the nursing home, think twice…….ask yourself…..

Are they covering up?
Is your friend or relative confused because of a lack of care – not enough fluids, or food, or poor sanitation leading to water infections and not because of ‘dementia’.
Is their dementia really that bad, that they don’t know what they are saying at all?

My Grandma was not in the dementia ward and she didn’t have full blown dementia. Some doctors said her memory loss was partly to do with her age, at other times it was a water infection.

I know some people have full blown dementia, I get that, but what about the ones that ‘are not that bad’ to be in that ward. Is it being used as an excuse to not care enough to give proper care??? Something to think about.

If you have Liked this post, thank you. It would be great if you could show my student some blog loving by Liking her original post that I have reblogged, on her own blog. Thanks in advance for doing that.

Embrace Your Quirky and write soon


Front cover Front cover

Back cover Back cover

Very accessible and readable. This book follows the experience of a son and primary carer from the point at which his mum is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
There is plenty of light in this account and I was banned from reading this in bed when I couldn’t stop myself from snorting with laughter over the mother and son visit to dog obedience classes. The experience of loss is very vividly illustrated and the most distressing part of the book concerns his mum’s experiences in the first care home.
It is of course one person’s perspective and one family’s experience but it has a huge amount to say about memory loss, cognitive difficulties and the response of medical and social services. I felt it had some really helpful ways of thinking about this type of progressive memory loss, in particular the consultant who likens the loss of…

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14 thoughts on “The Little Girl in the Radiator (Mum, Alzheimer’s & Me) – Martin Selvin published by Monday Books

  1. Hi Sandra,

    Your Grandma sounds like a lovely lady and she obviously continues to be a really positive force for good in your life.

    Experiences of poor care in a residential setting don’t seem to get the profile that they should and I can entirely understand why relatives have taken to covert filming. I’m sorry that your Grandma had these experiences. I am surprised that a member of staff would admit that this is how they meet the continence needs of their residents. Care should meet the needs of the individual not the institution. That and the business of being told not to walk around but to use a wheelchair sounds like it was for the convenience of the home which could be seen as “institutional abuse” it certainly goes completely against the philosophy that care should be enabling not to mention person-centred. I’d be thinking about raising my concerns with the Care Quality Commision (CQC).

    That might sound like me being idealistic but I have worked on a ward where we looked after 28 people (>65 yrs) and frequently 25 of those people would have a dementia a delirium or both. I would never have told someone to pee in their pad, a pad is there for reassurance it isn’t a short-cut for staff and if I had done I would have expected to be disciplined.

    I’ve never worked in a care home and the idea fills me with unease but your experiences reminded me of an awful place that my Nana chose in Cheshire. When we visited my initial impression, beyond the posh lobby, was appalling and we were lucky she only needed a little assistance because I can’t imagine what the care would have been like. It is nearly 10 years ago now but it was very stressful time trying to get her into a care home that I would have been happy with for myself.

    Umm dementia is a big subject. It is an umbrella term covering a number of different conditions inc Alzheimer’s, it implies a cognitive impairment (difficulty with understanding) as does delirium caused by urine infections etc. You need to know which it is to give the right treatment but to give care each person needs to be treated as an individual. Some people hallucinate, some people travel back to a point in their past, some people have very little understanding of what is going on around them. However, because someone doesn’t remember where they are doesn’t mean they don’t know when they need the toilet. Understanding can change through 24 hours and from day to day.

    I find working with people who have cognitive impairment pretty challenging and I couldn’t do it all the time but I’m always looking to improve my knowledge because it affects so many people as they get older and we have an ageing population, no matter what aspect of adult nursing you work in you need a good grounding in caring for people with dementia. A person having a dementia is never an excuse for poor care in fact it makes even less acceptable as that person is probably less able to properly represent their own needs.


    1. Hi Chris, thanks for following my blog. I hope you have received my email about Twitter? Thank you for this lovely message too. I use my phone a lot to comment back, and I can’t see all comments, in their entirety, on my phone. I did read this on my Mac and it’s really nice of you to be so caring about the situation. It was a private nursing home, not an NHS, and my Grandma wasn’t bad enough to be in the dementia ward. My Grandma had quite a lot of urine infections that made her confused – that in itself can get confused with dementia symptoms. She nearly always had a chest infection in that home and that’s what killed her. Before she went in there, she was hardly ever ill in her life. The member of staff who told me my Grandma should be peeing in her pad rather than going to the toilet, I mentioned in a meeting with the Manager; but afterwards thought, that member of staff was telling me the truth about the situation and the reality, whereas others just covered it over with ‘of course she could have gone’ – she asked and was refused. She remembered this when she spoke to me. She had no reason to make that up. She was upset and distressed about it and that staff member confirmed she was telling the truth. How much of the wrong stuff happening, is blamed on dementia? I wonder?


  2. Private Eye had been reporting on the terrible care home treatment for years before it suddenly became newsworthy the other year, I think it terrible that the quality of life of our elders has been demeaned by people charged with helping them. I hope that stories such as this can send a message that change is long overdue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ste, that’s really nice of you to feel and think that way. Unfortunately, not everyone close to me, shared this Same view of that care home, to me, there were a few nice people there, who did care, but I still don’t think, overall, the care was good enough as much as it should have been. No buzzer was nearby my Grandma when in the lounge with no care staff based there, after I kept having words about it, the buzzer was near her more. But often there was only one buzzer between the residents in the lounge there a lot of the time, and they were spread out. Sometimes there would only be 3-7 residents, but it really wasn’t the point. I said that someone should be in the lounge with them each night, the care home disagreed.


  3. Hi Sandra. I completely understand you missing your Grandma and you were right to stand up against those indignities. There is no way I am going into a Home after reading this. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ralph. I would always suggest getting a carer in your own home, rather than going into a care/nursing home. It was actually a nursing home. My Grandma used to walk around her a little in her own home, but was told not to in the nursing home, but to used the wheelchair. I think she was allowed to once. The second care home manager, said she could have walked if she had wanted to before with the previous manager – By that time her legs I doubt were working much anymore. Having said that, she was expected to get up from the wheelchair on her own and to just be supported, not lifted. It was hard for her. My mum said there was no way she would go in a home after my Grandma died, yet both her and my dad, thought she was fine in there!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So sorry to read what your Grandma went through Sandra. Luckily I am not bad enough to have a carer. If I applied, it would take about 10 months for the Spanish Social Services to even just say “yay” or “nay”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Sandra. 😀
        Your header looks great ! That’s a new addition to YouTube profile. I see it’s in my profile too. I’ll have to play with it sometime. 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Ralph, thank you. Does my header have part of the text covered by my photo? Because when I when I viewed it on a PC for my teaching job, part of the text was obscured by my photo.

        It wasn’t in YouTube. I had to create my header using some free software, adding photos, text and sizing images and text myself. I downloaded the Fireworks Template first from YouTube.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s fine on my laptop which has a wide screen. To the right of your photo there is a blue space (about 3/4 width of your photo) before the block of writing.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hi Ralph, that’s fine, that’s the same on my screen. So long as Quirky Academy, You Are The Star is visible, that’s good enough. Thank you my friend for checking that for me. I have a very busy next 3 days coming up.

        Liked by 1 person

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