From Astra, aged 86, August 2014

Care in the house of silence or sleeping in the house of care 

Following on from my blog in June, I’m still stuck in the same inappropriate and isolating care home in north London. Little has changed except that now I need more self-control than ever to avoid screaming inside myself at the lack of any one with whom I can have a chat or a laugh. I need a break from the silences at meal times, game times, exercise times. As I said in my previous blog, the residents are either deaf or have dementia or both. One of the staff members said to me “your wings have been clipped” (how can I fly again, I ask?).

I’m still on a waiting list for a self-contained flat in a sheltered housing estate. I wonder if a vacancy will turn up by my 87th birthday (30 November). Or will I have to carry on for another year? Or more? I try to concentrate on the positives: a room of my own, daily clean sheets/towels/clothes/hot showers, reasonably tasty food and very important, helpful carers. In fact, in my previous blog, I neglected to praise the carers for their patience, stamina and good humour. It’s not their doing that I’ve been misplaced into a care home while I wait for that elusive flat.

Before I landed in this home there were gardening, singing, drawing, bingo, etc. Now there are only weekly seated exercises and bingo. Further indoor and outdoor activities would greatly benefit all of us, but government cuts have obliterated all so-called non-essentials. The sweet-smelling garden hardly used at all except by myself is a missed opportunity for fresh air and socializing. The carers could benefit from training to stimulate the residents to sleep less and move about more even though many of them seem to prefer TV and dozing. Are they heavily medicated, I wonder?

Now I’m looking for a mature, daily volunteer to keep me company when I go for walks and do exercises. I need to be able to walk unaided as I used to do before my most recent fall (1 ½ years ago).



  1. Hello Astra, it sounds like a nightmare. Are you getting any visitors? Where is the home? I live in Stokey.. Are you able to phone people? YOu can phone me if you want to, but I am away tomorrow till Tuesday. 02072545723.
    I’m Caroline Halliday, we have met in the past and I was a poet then, now I’m an artist. Do you have any writings under the general heading Women, Witches and Myths? A group of feminists called Strawberry Jam are putting together a ‘zine on this, to go alongside an art show I am involved in called Witch. They are looking for contributions. I sent them some poems. Tell them about your situation as well.

    Best wishes

    Strawberry Jam Collective |

  2. Hi Astra good to see another Blog – and i see you have a reply from Caroline Halliday (hello Caroline strange to be meeting here )- I know Caroline – as i explained to Adam I am not well at moment Labyrinthitis – inflamation of inner ear but Jenny and i are thinking about how to get you a volunteer – maybe some kind of rota of interested people. I have a copy of Jenny’s book for you. Will call. keep well – love, Lawrence

  3. Another beautifully expressed, though also sad, piece. Good to see the responses here and let’s hope visitors increase in numbers and a volunteer can be found too. And yes, let’s hope too that the elusive flat comes soon to you – you’ve waited long enough! Astra, see you when I get back from the States in September, and until then, much love, Amy xx

  4. Thanks for update, so sorry things are moving so slow, hope you find someone to take you out.
    I have not been very well so been rather quiet, will write when better

  5. Hello Astra,
    I am so sorry that things are the way they are. We can easily forget how bad our services are until we need them. We met at OFN and I live a long way out of London. Hopefully you will be able to make the next OFN meeting.

    Is there a way lots of people could write and put pressure onto the services? Otherwise, would Shelter be able to help speed things up?

    I do hope you are offered better accommodation soon,


  6. Thank you for forwarding this to me. It gives me some insight into what you are going through and it sounds awful; particularly knowing how vibrant, interested and engaged you are when you have the opportunity and environment. I hope both of these change in your favour sooner rather than later. x

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