Nursing in a care home: Flavia interviews Kevin about caring for his wife

Flavia Burroni, is a nurse at Belmont House Nursing Home, originally from Italy, she has lived in the UK since March 2016. During the course of her nursing career, she has got to know many people, but she’s become especially close to Vera and husband Kevin, who visits Vera every day at Belmont House Nursing Home in Stocksbridge.

Flavia interviewed Kevin about what it means to care for his wife, who has dementia, and to leave someone you love in a place that is not your home. Her moving and thoughtful article reflects the love and care needed to perform the role of carer.

These are Flavia’s words:

Vera's day begins in a simple way; a caress, a good morning kiss given by Kevin, her husband. A simple action, never a trivial one, for a long-term couple. But Vera isn't home with Kevin. Vera has lived at Belmont House Nursing Home in Stocksbridge for four years. The '' special care '' given to Vera by Kevin continues by him washing her hands and gently placing cream on her face.

Kevin is the only person that Vera seems to recognize since dementia irreparably took over her mind. In 2009 she had a stroke, and from that moment her life stopped smiling. I asked Kevin about caring for Vera

 Kevin, when did you meet with Vera?

In 1981, and we got married in 1984. I have four children from a previous marriage, they all immediately had an excellent relationship with Vera.

Belmont House Nursing Home

What was your life together like? Did Vera Work?

It was the life of a happy, satisfied couple. Vera was a housewife. We liked our lives. We went on holiday to Greece and Spain ... in short, we were happy.

Until, in 2009, Vera had a stroke, which left her with hemiparesis (paralysis of one side of the body). Since then life has been more and more complicated for us because unfortunately, dementia has also arrived

What happened? Was Vera hospitalized?

Yes, she was in the hospital, that was a bad time for us.

What was it like in the hospital?

In the hospital she was just a bed number, the medication was given quickly, coldly, by nurses who constantly changed.

What happened next?

We returned home, but for Vera, it was a slow deterioration, in 2015 she had some respite care in a nursing home, she returned home but it was very hard.

When did you realize that assisting her was now impossible for you?

Immediately after that, it was then that we came to Belmont, it was 2015.

What did it mean for you to put Vera here?

Heartbreak, desolation, solitude, all the worst imaginable things. But at the same time the security that she is being looked after and assisted in the best of ways.

What does trust in care mean to you?

It means to be aware that my wife is being looked after as if I were doing it, and not by indifferent hands.

What distinguishes us as nurses and carers in a care home compared to those in a hospital?

Everything is different. Here we are in the family. The atmosphere that you breathe, the familiarity with the people, the confidence with the staff, it is evident that we are talking about personalized care.

At Belmont nursing is seen in a holistic, total view of the person, what do you think of that?

That when I leave Vera here, I'm calm, much more so than if she were at home.

There's not much more to add, except that to see Vera smiling at Kevin, it’s clear to me that a smile says a lot more than any words can.

Flavia’s first job as a nurse in England was with BMI, Thornbury Hospital in Sheffield in 2016. She made the choice to emigrate when she found herself unemployed after 25 years working as an ITU Nurse in Italy. She has a second degree in English Modern History and has always loved the UK. When she arrived in Sheffield, she didn't speak a single word of English, so had to learn very quickly. She soon became fluent and is quick to tell you she never shuts up!Belmont House Nursing Home

Flavia graduated in Nursing in 1991, obtaining three specializations, the first as ITU nurse, the second as Ward Manager, the third as a Tissue Viability Nurse.  She worked for 15 years in ITU in the Gemelli, the largest private Italian hospital, owned by the Vatican, and then for 3 years as Ward Manager. She also spent three years working in a rehab unit.

Flavia is keen for people to understand more about what it’s like to care for someone living with dementia.

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