Care In Kent's Blog

Our blog aims to empower and educate you.

  • 25/10/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Someone With Dementia: Coping With Guilt

    Caring - in any capacity - can really take its toll on your emotions, and It goes without saying that when it comes to caring for someone with dementia, coping with those emotions can be even more challenging.

    One of the most common (and completely normal!) emotions to feel is guilt. Guilt that you’re not doing a good enough job of caring for your loved one. Guilt that you’re not accepting the help that’s been offered. Guilt that you sometimes feel overwhelmed, frustrated...angry even..

    If you are caring for someone who is living with dementia, it’s important that you recognise any feelings of guilt you may have so that you can find ways to work through those emotions. Hiding your feelings will make things ten times worse for everyone!

    Our article takes a look at some of the most common sources of guilt in carers for dementia patients, and suggests some measures for managing these feelings.

    ‘I’m Not Good At This’

    It’s perfectly normal to feel that other people might be coping with the role of carer better than you are. Often, if you speak to other carers or read about their experiences, it can seem that everyone is coping a lot better than you. What’s their secret?

    The truth is, there isn’t one. There’s no such thing as being a ‘perfect carer’, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Other carers will, like you, have days where they cope well, and days where it all seems too overwhelming.

    If you are caring for a loved one who has dementia, be realistic about what you can achieve. It might be a case of having to accept more help; or ask for it - let your family and friends know that you’re struggling and give them the opportunity to help you out.

    ‘I Didn’t Know They Had Dementia!’

    Sometimes, feelings of guilt come from the memory of how you treated a person before they were diagnosed with dementia. Maybe you were critical, or got irritated with them, and now that you know why their behaviour was so frustrating you feel terrible!

    Again, don’t be too hard on yourself; we all get annoyed with people we love sometimes, and you weren’t to know that they had dementia. It can be very difficult to understand the changes that are brought about by the condition, but they can have a profound effect on someone’s behaviour and demeanour. The more you learn about the condition, the more you’ll understand it, which will help alleviate those guilty feelings.

    ‘I Still Get Irritated Now’

    Caring for another person can be very stressful, and if you add a condition such as dementia into the mix that can increase ten fold! Maybe you’ve had angry outbursts towards your loved one and you find it hard to forgive yourself afterwards.

    Feelings of frustration are normal in this situation, and it can help to learn some meditation or breathing techniques to help you cope. Another tip is to take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy; ask a relative to take over for a couple of hours, or employ some respite care, and be ‘just you’ for a while. Take a long hot bath, read a book, meet a friend for coffee...this time away will help you to feel happier and less stressed.

    There could be times when it’s not possible to take a few hours for yourself, so if you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated, try to just leave the room briefly - take a few deep breaths and reset before you return.

    ‘I Feel Guilty For Wanting Time Away’

    You shouldn’t! Everybody needs time to relax and recharge - and for carers it’s so important to spend some time away from the caring role. You’ll find that having some time away from your loved one will make you feel much more positive when you return, and therefore better able to care for them.

    ‘I Don’t Like Accepting Help’

    Caring for someone who has dementia is exhausting, even if it’s someone you love very much. You might feel that you should be able to care for your parent/grandparent/spouse etc without any outside help - after all, you know them best and are quite capable, thank you very much!

    Remember that it’s not about being capable - it’s about looking after yourself too, so that you can fulfil your role as carer to the best of your ability. Accepting and asking for help is an important step in that. If you don’t have other family members who can help, either because they live too far away or have work and childcare commitments, there are home care services you can call upon to give you that support.

    Your loved one might initially be hesitant to be cared for by others, especially if they are easily confused or find it difficult to understand and adapt to any changes. But over time, the slight change will become normal and they will adjust to the new routine. It’s normal to feel guilty when you first experience that separation from the loved one you have been caring for - but your renewed energy and increased positivity are just a couple of the benefits that can be brought about by accepting some outside help.

    ‘My Loved One Needs Residential Care, But I Feel Too Guilty’

    It’s no wonder that making the decision to move a loved one into a residential home can feel like a huge betrayal - especially if it’s a parent or grandparent who has spent their lives caring for you! You might feel like you’re letting them down...maybe you promised them that you’d always look after them and now you’re going to have to break that promise and the guilt is overwhelming.

    It’s really important that you remember you are not abandoning them or your caring role - it’s simply a different way of caring for them. Sometimes round-the-clock professional care is what is best for your loved one, and that’s ok. Any promises that you may have made about always caring for them yourself were made before their condition became more severe - it’s not a case of no longer loving them or making them a priority.

    In fact, some carers find that once their loved one is receiving residential care that their relationship with them improves because the time you spend together is less stressful and more special, without the constant worry about the practicalities, or the guilt that you’re not doing a good job.

    It seems that guilt and caring go hand-in-hand for a lot of carers, but remember, we all have bad days, and just because the person you are caring for is someone you love it doesn’t mean you are exempt from feeling frustration or anger at times. Accepting help and support, and taking some time for yourself is key.

    If you want to speak to find out more about caring for a loved one with dementia and how at home care can help, please get in touch at Care In Kent.

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  • 08/10/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    It’s Not Just What I Do.. It’s Who I AM

    Do you have a big dream? To run your own business, maybe? To go back to school? fulfil that ambition that you’ve always had? Do you have a burning desire to follow your calling?

    I do, and I’m finally following that dream; returning to nursing practice to become a Palliative Care nurse.

    Caring for others has always been a passion of mine - as a mother of course, as well as it being the driving force behind Care In Kent - putting the welfare and needs of others first is in my blood and now I want to shout from the rooftops that I have been given a wonderful opportunity to return to the career I love, alongside continuing to provide care and support to the elderly through my business.

    This compelling drive to follow my heart’s desire and extend my capacity and passion for caring for others in the field of nursing has really gained momentum during lockdown. In recent times we’ve all been made more aware of the significant difference that those in the caring profession make to others, and nursing goes hand in hand with that. It feels wonderful that I am continuing my caring career by doing something so significant and worthwhile as nursing; I feel excited, passionate, and filled with a healthy apprehension - after all, these are very different times for nurses, and returning to practice doesn’t come without its dangers, trials and tribulations.

    So, what are the benefits of returning to nursing during this current climate, besides following a long held ambition? Well, we all know that the NHS is underfunded and understaffed, and as it’s such a treasured and much-needed resource it feels wonderful to have the opportunity to offer my support and help carry the burden. Nursing, in fact caring in any capacity, is very much a vocation, a passion - NOT a ‘job’, and certainly not a get-rich scheme! The women and men who choose this path do so simply because there isn’t anything else that can fulfil them or stimulate their ambition in quite the same way, and I include myself wholeheartedly in that.

    There’s no time limit on fulfilling a dream - it’s not what you DO that counts, it’s what you ARE.

    And this is me.

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  • 23/09/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Dementia Patients During The Covid-19 Pandemic

    Routines: boring and mundane to some; useful for keeping anxiety and stress levels at bay for others, but for those living with dementia, a routine is so much more. For a start it is an incredibly important component of keeping healthy - routine and repetition can be critical in order to function as learning new things can be difficult and take a lot longer than for those who don’t live with dementia. 

    The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the routines of many of us, and for those who live with dementia, and those who care for them, the effects can be far reaching. A good routine for a dementia patient includes consistent sleep patterns, meal times, and participating in activities - and disrupting those routines can be very stressful for someone who can’t track new information as this can lead to confusion and maybe even further memory problems.

    There is often a worry that if a person who lives with dementia is exposed to a long period of stress it will speed the progression of the disease. Luckily, the evidence suggests that that isn’t the case, and that any changes to a dementia patient’s condition is normally only temporary.What Can I Do To Help Someone Who Lives With Dementia?

    If you are currently caring for a loved one who is living with dementia, there are some important things you can do to help them during this time:

    Stick To A Routine - Sticking to a routine as much as possible is one of the key ways you can ensure that an elderly person living with dementia stays as stress-free as possible. Structure to the day means that the patient has a clear idea of what is expected and creates a comforting environment. Of course at the moment some of the routine, particularly if loved ones normally visit at a particular time, is going to be disrupted. This might cause some confusion for a while; the good news is that once a new routine has been established it won’t take long for someone who lives with dementia to get used to the changes.

    Have A Plan For The Day - There are some activities that dementia patients might have enjoyed pre-pandemic that aren’t suitable right now, so it might take a bit of creative flair to think of some new things! A good idea is to use a calendar or white board for example, and have these activities written down where a patient can see them. It will help them get used to a new routine if they can see the plan for the day written out.

    Help Them To Communicate - Technology is a fantastic way to fight social isolation, and helping someone who lives with dementia to speak to family members through video links or social media could give them a real boost! Maybe a new baby has been born into the family, or the grandchildren want to tell Grandma what they’ve been getting on back at school - helping an older person with dementia to communicate with family members that can’t visit is rewarding for everyone.

    Don’t Share Too Much Information - People who live with dementia might not remember the details of the things they see or hear on the news, but holding on to the emotional information can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety or fear - without them knowing why they feel that way. Don’t expose a patient to a lot of negative information, instead engage them in activities they enjoy such as listening to music.

    Reminisce - Taking in new information can be hard for dementia patients, so when you talk to someone living with the condition it’s a good idea to talk about past events; trips they might have been on or activities they’ve participated in. It’s important to help older people with dementia to experience positive emotions, and so talking about happy times in the past could prevent them from remembering that they feel worry or stress.

    Keeping someone who is living with dementia as stress-free as possible during this pandemic can be quite difficult when the pandemic is top of everyone’s conversation lists at the moment - look at any newspaper or turn on any TV or radio station and there it is - and so it’s going to be near impossible to shelter someone from what’s going on completely.

    How much information a patient can process will depend on the severity of their condition, but how do you know if someone who is living with dementia is experiencing too much stress?

    What Are The Signs?

    During stressful times, such as the one we find ourselves in now, someone who has dementia might become more confused or agitated than normal during certain situations. This is to be expected and these changes are more often than not, temporary. However, some behaviours can be more of a cause for concern.

    Such as:

    Acting out of character by putting themselves in harm’s way or wandering off.
    Becoming physically aggressive.
    New types of behaviours that continue for several days; unexplained incontinence, for example, or obsessing over something in a way they haven’t before.

    If you notice any of these changes and you are concerned then it is always advisable to speak to a healthcare professional.

    We’re living in difficult times and for those living with any type of memory disorder it can be even more scary; and even more trying for those who are caring for them. If you want to know more about how to care for someone who is elderly during the Covid-19 pandemic, then please do get in touch with us at Care In Kent.

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  • 04/09/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    10 Benefits of Home Care

    When it comes to care options for an elderly loved one, moving into a residential home requires a big lifestyle change - both for the person who needs care, and for their relatives - which is why, for many families, home care is often the preferred solution. We’ve taken a look at some of the advantages of providing care for your loved one in the comfort of their own home, and why it might be the best option for them, and you!

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  • 28/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Why Home Care Benefits Those Living With Dementia

    Because everyone’s experience of dementia is different, and the symptoms vary from person to person, there simply isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan of action when it comes to care. If your only knowledge of the condition is what you’ve seen in movies and on TV then you could be forgiven for thinking that a patient’s deterioration is always rapid and all-encompassing; but that’s not always the case. In fact, with the right support system in place, many people living with dementia are able to live independently for several years

    In the very early stages of dementia most people can continue to live in their own homes and enjoy life pretty much the same as they could before their diagnosis. In fact, it is encouraged that for as long as you can do so, continue to keep doing the things that are important to you. When things start to become a little more difficult you may benefit from some in-home care to assist you with things such as housework or preparing meals.

    Chances are there will come a time when someone living with dementia going into a care home becomes unavoidable, but until that time, the benefits of living in their own home are undeniable.

    Further reading: Caring for someone with dementia

    A Familiar Environment

    This is the big one isn’t it; it goes without saying that moving to a new place surrounded by new people isn’t going to be of huge benefit to someone in the earlier stages of dementia - particularly if they’re still maintaining a lot of independence. Being cared for in your own home is going to be a lot less disorienting for someone living with dementia than moving into a care home.

    And it isn’t just about being in familiar walls. Those living with the early stages of dementia will want to keep their independence for as long as possible, and this will include getting out and about in the local area that they know well; walking in parks they are familiar with, popping to the shops they frequent, and going to their regular place of worship.

    Further reading: Explaining dementia to children


    A daily routine can be just as soothing as familiar surroundings. It’s important for someone who is living with dementia to keep to their regular pre-diagnosis schedule as much as possible in order to reduce stress and confusion. In-home care uses personalised care plans for all clients (whether they have dementia or not), but for those who are living with the condition these care plans are even more essential as patients thrive on familiarity and repetition. Chores and personal care will be performed at set times to provide clients with an ingrained routine which will help them to retain a sense of understanding of what is going on around them, even as their condition worsens.

    Carers Are Trained In Dementia Care

    All in-home carers are highly trained so that they are able to assist with day-to-day care and provide companionship and compassion, and when it comes to caring for those with dementia, training will also involve learning methods by which to stay engaged, manage unpredictable behaviour and communicate effectively.

    Carers whose clients live with dementia will also be trained in breaking activities down into smaller steps to make it more manageable, as well as having extra safety training to reduce the risk of falls or injuries.

    These skills allow an older person who has dementia to live longer in their own home, providing peace of mind to family members who might not be able to visit due to work commitments or not living near. This one-on-one individual care is a huge benefit to someone living with dementia because over time their carer will become a familiar face, which is just as important as familiar surroundings and a regular routine. 

    See what home care services are available

    Continuing With Hobbies And Activities

    Another benefit of an older person continuing to live at home after they have been diagnosed with dementia is that they can continue to enjoy past activities for as long as possible.

    Even though care homes today are a far cry from the past, with residents engaged in all sorts of group activities, being cared for at home means that the individual can take part in the things that they specifically enjoy. Playing a round of golf for example, an afternoon fishing, or maybe even watching others play a sport if they are no longer physically able, can boost mental and physical health.

    Sensory stimulation is important when it comes to dementia care, and an older person who is still able to live in their own home will be able to listen to music, or indulge in arts that they enjoy as often as they please. In-home care can be very beneficial in that respect as the carer can engage their client in different activities as their interests or abilities change due to dementia.

    Care Can Evolve

    One of the biggest advantages of in-home care, particularly for someone living with dementia, is that it is easier to customise the care to provide as much or as little as the client and their family require. This flexibility is a huge advantage when caring for those who live with dementia, because as their condition declines in-home care can adapt as necessary in order to keep providing the best possible care.

    Get in touch today to see how we can help Click here

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  • 17/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    “But I Only Need A Little Help With The Housework…”

    I’m sure we all agree that growing old is a privilege denied to many, and that wisdom and experience gained is certainly cause for celebration; however, one of the most frustrating things about getting older is when we begin to struggle with the simple tasks that need to be performed in our everyday lives. Illness, decreased mobility and failing sight are just some of the age-related problems that could mean that even the simplest of activities such as running a vacuum round or washing the dishes can become a struggle.

    For many older people who live alone - particularly those who have lost a partner or who don’t regularly see friends or family members - the inability to easily get on with their everyday routine comes a close second to loneliness as one of the top reasons they might be feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. So, what can you do if the mind and body is willing, but the strength or mobility is lacking?

    Often the answer will be making use of a service such as in-home care. Many people might not realise that this type of care is tailored to the individual, it’s not just for those who need extensive or daily care. And of course there are other options open to you such as meal-delivery services, shopping delivery, as well as gardeners and cleaners…

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  • 12/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Home Care Support: What Is Available?

    When it comes to home care for the elderly, the general consensus is that it is preferable to being cared for in a residential home or hospital. Aside from the fact that an older person is going to be much more comfortable in their own familiar surroundings, where friends and family can visit whenever they like, studies have shown that recovery times from illness or injury is greatly reduced, as well as there being a lower risk of depression or feelings of isolation.

    Perhaps either yourself or a loved one need some support at home, but aren’t sure what help is available; which is why Care In Kent have put together this guide to help you decide if home care support could benefit you…

    So, first thing’s first - what exactly is home care?

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  • 03/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Becoming A Carer: What You Should Know | Jobs in Ashford

    The profession of ‘carer’ spans many industries, and working with the elderly is one such role that requires not only training and a certain level of knowledge, but also a set of personal characteristics and attributes. If patience, compassion and an interest in the welfare of others are at the heart of what you want from your career then you may well have found yourself considering a job as a carer for the elderly.

    On the surface being a carer can sound like easy work; do a bit of housework, maybe cook a meal or two, pop in for a cuppa and a chat...but the truth is that care work encompasses a wide range of duties that can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Of course it can also be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding career paths you could take.

    So, what exactly can you expect from a career as a carer - whether that be out in the community or within a residential care home?

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  • Choosing A Career In Care
    28/07/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Choosing A Career In Care

    Maybe you are starting to think about what career you would like to pursue when you leave school, or maybe you fancy a career change - either way, a career in care can be a rewarding and satisfying one. There are many reasons to choose a career within the care industry, not least of all having a genuine interest in the welfare of others - particularly those more vulnerable members of society. A lot of carers started out as volunteers, or even as carers for a sick or elderly relative or friend, and so to turn that knowledge and experience gained into a career is a natural progression. But those aren’t the only reasons... 

    So, why become a carer?

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  • 23/07/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    All In A Day’s Work

    When it comes to a career within the care industry, there are many types of roles to fill; caring for the disabled, caring for children, caring for the elderly - and within different environments; at a care home, in a hospice or hospital, or at the client’s home. But there’s one thing that all professional carers share, and that’s the enormous amount of dedication and passion needed to carry out such demanding, yet rewarding work.

    For care workers who look after elderly clients within their own homes, the work is incredibly varied and tailored to each individual client. Some care workers provide round-the-clock care, while other clients just need someone to pop in to prepare dinner. Those who work in the care industry will often say that one of the things they love about their profession is that every day is different, however, here is what a ‘typical’ day might look like for one of our highly skilled care workers.

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  • Loneliness As We Get Older
    14/07/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    How To Deal With Loneliness As We Get Older

    As you age it’s understandable that feelings of loneliness and isolation might increase. Your children grow and fly the nest - possibly further afield than you’d like - to start their own lives and families, and it could be weeks, or even months, between visits. Your friends and acquaintances might start new jobs in new towns, and, as much as everyone always says they’ll stay in touch, that can be easier said than done at times. And, worst of all, as you age so do those around you - and maybe some of those you were close to have now passed away.

    But you don’t have to let these feelings of isolation get the better of you! It is possible to get yourself into a positive mindset and deal with loneliness simply by changing your day to day habits and engaging in some new activities.

    For the vast majority of people, loneliness ranks higher than financial or health worries when it comes to their fears about getting older, so what can you do to combat loneliness and keep living life to the fullest?

    Further reading Explaining dementia to children a guide

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  • 08/06/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Carers Week 8-14th June

    Carers Week, which runs every year from the 8th to the 14th of June, is a campaign designed to raise awareness and highlight the issues faced by those unpaid carers out there who are tending to families and communities throughout the UK. This annual event, celebrated by thousands of individuals and organisations, provides support to carers and runs activities designed to draw attention to the importance of the caring role within our society.

    This year Carers Week is unique in that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, those who are caring for others across the UK are facing new challenges , and many have taken on more caring responsibilities than ever before - whether that be caring for elderly or disabled relatives or friends, or supporting vulnerable neighbours. In response to this, Carers Week is urging people to come together to help ‘Making Caring Visible’, providing information, support and understanding to those who find themselves working in a carers’ capacity - maybe for the first time.

    There are 6.5 million people caring for others in the UK, and that can have an impact on all aspects of their life from finances and work, to relationships and health The challenges faced should not be underestimated, and it is vitally important that we recognise the contribution carers make to society, and ensure they get the support and recognition they deserve. 

    Want to make a difference? Join our team

    So, Why Should You Get Involved?

    Caring will affect all of us at some point in our lives - either because we will take on that role for an elderly or sick relative or friend, or because we will be reliant on others to care for us. Most of those who are currently caring for someone in their lives don’t give themselves the title of ‘carer’. Instead they call themselves husbands and wives, daughters, sons, friends….meaning that more often than not they are not connected to the support and information networks that are vital to carers. Of course caring for someone can be highly rewarding, but it certainly comes with difficulties and frustrations too. Carers Week aims to alleviate some of this, by providing those much needed resources.

    And How?

    You can raise awareness of caring and the importance it plays in our lives and the lives of those we love, by organising an activity within your community or place of work. You can register your activity on the Carers Week website and download all the information in order to promote your activity and raise awareness.

    Or why not make a pledge instead, or spread the word about Carers Week on social media, using the hashtag #carersweek and show your support and appreciation for all those unpaid carers out there, and ensure they get the information and help they need.

    Find a job with us as a carer

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  • 04/06/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    National Hug Your Cat Day - Yes, It’s A Thing!

    Revered and worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, and seen throughout the world as symbols of poise and elegance, not much has changed for the modern cat! There isn’t a cat owner alive that needs to be reminded to hug their cat - we’re all at it! (when the cat decides it’s ok obviously!), but on National Hug Your Cat Day, June 4th, make a special effort to scoop up your furry BFF and celebrate this special day with us!

    For many elderly and vulnerable people, their cats symbolise even more than a cute and cuddly pet. Often they can be their only companion, their confidante, and maybe even for some, their reason for getting up in the morning. There is even evidence to suggest that owning a cat can have various physical health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.

    So, how can we show our appreciation to our wonderful feline friends on this special day?

    Revered and worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, and seen throughout the world as symbols of poise and elegance, not much has changed for the modern cat! There isn’t a cat owner alive that needs to be reminded to hug their cat - we’re all at it! (when the cat decides it’s ok obviously!), but on National Hug Your Cat Day, June 4th, make a special effort to scoop up your furry BFF and celebrate this special day with us!

    For many elderly and vulnerable people, their cats symbolise even more than a cute and cuddly pet. Often they can be their only companion, their confidante, and maybe even for some, their reason for getting up in the morning. There is even evidence to suggest that owning a cat can have various physical health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.

    So, how can we show our appreciation to our wonderful feline friends on this special day?

    Lots Of Hugs!

    We know it says it right there in the title, but pick up your purring pal and give them a hug! (Until they wriggle out of your grasp and give you that look of contempt all cats are so good at!) Stroking and hugging pets has been proven to release feel-good endorphins, and some studies have shown that the sound of a cat purring can reduce stress levels and elevate levels of calmness, so hug away and soak up all those happy hormones!


    Maybe you don’t have a cat of your own but you still want to get in on the hugging action. Volunteering at an animal shelter means you can get in on all that hugging action AND help out homeless and abandoned kitties - it’s a win-win situation. Or, why not turn ‘Hug Your Cat Day’ into ‘Hug Someone Else’s Cat Day’, and share the cuddles with a cat-owning friend!

    Selfie Time!

    If you are one of those cat owners that can’t stop showing pictures of your cute and cuddly fur-baby to friends, family, and work colleagues - to the point where they turn and run in the opposite direction when they see you approaching with your iphone and a crazy look in your eye - today is your day my friend! It’s practically mandatory to start snapping away pics of your cute companions and to share them with the world - we for one would love to see them!Lots Of Hugs!

    We know it says it right there in the title, but pick up your purring pal and give them a hug! (Until they wriggle out of your grasp and give you that look of contempt all cats are so good at!) Stroking and hugging pets has been proven to release feel-good endorphins, and some studies have shown that the sound of a cat purring can reduce stress levels and elevate levels of calmness, so hug away and soak up all those happy hormones!


    Maybe you don’t have a cat of your own but you still want to get in on the hugging action. Volunteering at an animal shelter means you can get in on all that hugging action AND help out homeless and abandoned kitties - it’s a win-win situation. Or, why not turn ‘Hug Your Cat Day’ into ‘Hug Someone Else’s Cat Day’, and share the cuddles with a cat-owning friend!

    Selfie Time!

    If you are one of those cat owners that can’t stop showing pictures of your cute and cuddly fur-baby to friends, family, and work colleagues - to the point where they turn and run in the opposite direction when they see you approaching with your iphone and a crazy look in your eye - today is your day my friend! It’s practically mandatory to start snapping away pics of your cute companions and to share them with the world - we for one would love to see them!

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  • 02/06/2020 - Kim Stevenes 0 Comments
    Preventing Loneliness In The Elderly: A Guide

    For elderly people, particularly those who live alone or who don’t have families living nearby, loneliness is something they battle with everyday. But during the coronavirus crisis, even those who are used to visits from children and grandchildren have started to feel the effects of spending more time alone. How can we as family members, friends and neighbours of older people help those who are particularly vulnerable during these long periods of isolation we are all experiencing? 

    The lockdown guidelines that have been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic mean that in the UK we shouldn’t leave our homes unless absolutely necessary - and while this is important in stopping the spread of the virus, it has left many feeling lonely and isolated. Research shows that over 2 million people in the UK over the age of 75 live alone, and a million of those regularly go more than a month without interacting with another human being.

    Feeling lonely is distressing enough, with studies showing that it can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! Add to that the extra stress caused by the pandemic, and it’s no wonder that the elderly are reporting experiencing higher levels of anxiety than normal.

    In celebration of Carer’s Week, June 8th-14th, we have put together a useful guide of tips for older adults, and for those who are struggling with ideas to help their elderly loved ones to not feel so alone…

    The Importance Of Routine

    Not being able to go about our daily lives as we normally would has been the biggest change for most, but that doesn’t mean that we should abandon all semblance of a routine and sit around in our pyjamas doing nothing all day! Keeping to a routine - albeit a slightly different one to normal is incredibly important, especially for those of us who are older.

    Getting up at the same time each day, and planning tasks - even if it’s just household chores and planning meals - will keep your mind active and provide structure to your day. Don’t forget to include hobbies such as reading, gardening, or enjoying a favourite TV or radio show. Having a sense of purpose to your day is good for cognitive health, and will prevent you from sitting around focusing on your anxieties.

    Stay In Contact With Family And Friends

    One of the things families are really struggling with at the moment is not being able to physically go and see their loved ones, but with the elderly population being among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, it’s incredibly important that we all do our best to ensure they stay as healthy as possible. Thanks to modern technology it’s never been easier to stay in touch with those we love, and there have never been more ways to communicate with each other.

    A simple phone call, text, or even email can make all the difference to the day of someone who is feeling lonely. Video-calling platforms are another option. They are huge at the moment, and have never been easier to navigate, or, why not take the time to write a simple letter if technology isn’t your thing? If you have elderly relatives who don’t use a lot of technology encourage the kids to draw or paint pictures to send, or maybe send photos. Any of these forms of communication with family members will be a treasured lifeline to someone living alone.

    Staying Active - Even Indoors!

    Staying at home is our biggest line of defence in beating this virus at the moment, but that doesn’t have to mean sitting around and doing nothing. Exercise has been proven time and time again to lift your mood and release feel-good chemicals into your body. There are plenty of exercises that focus on strength, balance and flexibility - a lot of which can be done from a sitting position if you are not able-bodied.

    If you are an elderly person with access to the internet there are loads of free online exercise classes catering to all ages and abilities, or, if not, just a simple stroll around the garden in the sunshine will release endorphins and help to keep you active. 

    Here is a list of activities for the elderly around Ashford and Kent

    Get To Know The Neighbours

    It could be argued that these days community spirit isn’t what it was, but if nothing else, this pandemic has reignited and reinforced that sense of togetherness like nothing else! Maybe you already know your neighbours well and have been looking out for and supporting each other in recent weeks, but if you haven’t, now might be a good time to start! Getting to know the neighbours has never been more important - particularly for the elderly or vulnerable, and it can be reassuring to know that there is someone close by to lend a hand if you are in need of support. Likewise for the relatives of those who are older and might not live close by.

    It’s always worth having the contact details of your closest neighbours, and probably an idea to let them have yours too. Why not put a note through their door letting them know that you are available if they need any help - this could be an invaluable lifeline to some.

    Make New Friends

    Admittedly not all older people (or younger for that matter!) are technologically savvy - but for those who do use the internet, social media can be a fabulous way to stay in touch with family and friends, join groups with shared interests, track down friends we might have lost touch with over the years, or even make new ones.

    Being a part of these types of networks can open up a whole new world of communication, as well as allowing you to meet like-minded people through online communities and forums. 

    Further reading: Dementia and how music can help

    Ask For Help

    Maybe you are someone who is older and feeling lonely and isolated, but don’t live within a community you can reach out too. Maybe you don’t have any relatives or friends to call upon, what can you do?

    Charities such as Age UK and Silver Line offer befriending services that can match you up with like-minded people for a friendly chat, as well as offer practical advice and information. It may be worth you signing up for these, particularly if the telephone is your only source of communication with the outside world at the moment.

    With much focus on everyone’s physical health during these trying times we have to remember to do what we can to keep ourselves, and those around us, as mentally healthy as possible too - especially those who are elderly and/or living alone. Share these tips with your elderly neighbours, friends and relatives...or use them yourself to help you combat the boredom and loneliness, and keep your mind active and healthy.

    Find out how we can help Click here

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  • Music And Dementia
    06/05/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Music And Dementia

    Science tells us that the auditory system of the brain is the first to function - at around 16 weeks gestation - and so human beings are receptive to music long before they are receptive to anything else. We know that babies in the womb respond to music, and sensory-wise it really is a case of ‘first in, last out’; meaning that even someone who is living with advanced Alzheimers, and who’s verbal abilities might be lost, will still respond to music and singing. In fact, studies show that music can reach parts of the damaged brain that other forms of communication can’t, and can soothe, stimulate, and even bring to mind long-forgotten memories. 

    Playing music to dementia patients will often inspire a strong emotional reaction, particularly if it is a song from their youth - from their wedding perhaps, or a song they used to sing with their children.

    Some Of The Benefits Of Using Music As Therapy For Dementia Patients

    • It encourages social interaction - both with other dementia patients, or with family members and friends. Singing in a group is often encouraged in care home environments as a way to relieve stress and lift the mood, and the benefits of this can be even more significant in the cognitively impaired.

    • Soothing music can lessen distress if a dementia patient is becoming confused or upset during situations such as a carer helping them to get dressed or in being encouraged to take medication. Music can work as a great distraction technique, allowing the patient to focus their mind on something other than the task at hand.

    • It can facilitate physical movement. Even the smallest of movements - clapping or swaying while sitting in a chair can have great benefits. More mobile patients might like to dance - which carries its own benefits of social interaction and physical contact. Either way, any form of exercise is great for the mind as well as the body.

    Music And Memories

    Research has shown that dementia patients respond most positively to music they listened to as youngsters and through their teenage years, and so songs from that era, or perhaps music from their cultural background tend to evoke the most positive responses. Music is known to trigger autobiographical memories, which in turn reinforce a sense of identity, and, crucially, it’s been proven that memories of songs activate the very parts of the brain that seem to be particularly resistant to the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s.


    Sound is essential in communication - without pitch, tone, and speed, it would be unexpressive - and it is these qualities that allow music to connect with those who are living with dementia. Rhythm is a great way to help focus an older person who is cognitively impaired, and can stimulate the parts of the brain that control coordination and timing. Patients have even been known to form memory links by pairing daily tasks with music - even helping carers and family members to connect with those who may be experiencing the more advanced stages of the illness.


    For those dementia patients who are able to, singing along to much-loved songs can be incredibly therapeutic as a way of relieving stress and anxiety, as well as helping maintain speech and language, and enhancing quality of life. Many care homes and dementia charities promote singing and music as therapy - with some forming dementia choirs, such as the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain.’ These groups involve participation from dementia patients themselves, as well as their carers and a musician, and normally begin with warm-up exercises for both voice and body, before singing along to familiar songs. Much the same as just listening to music, the benefits of singing are numerous and include the release of endorphins, which improves mood, as well as exercising the body and mind. Popular choices of songs to sing along to are often show tunes or songs from movies that would have been popular in the patients’ youth.

    Music really does transverse age, race, and gender, and when used as a therapy to unlock parts of the mind that otherwise cannot be reached, it becomes even more powerful. For a person living with dementia, music and singing can be a way for them to express themselves and to remember who they are, at a time when illness prevents it otherwise.

    Further reading: Preventing Accidents in the home when you have dementia

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  • 19/04/2020 - Will O’Sullivan 0 Comments
    My experience of End of Life Care

    Where should I begin on what is such a taboo subject amongst the british population, I guess I will start at the beginning where I will lead you through a few of my experiences when nursing patients through their last few days of life. I have worked in nursing/care for the last sixteen years and as you can imagine I have seen, heard and smelt just about every function a human body can make this has been both very funny and very sad but I have always walked away feeling that I have done a great job and that the person is now more comfortable. My first experience with death came when I was about nine. I hadn't been well and was off school as my mum got herself ready for work there was a knock at the door, it was my neighbour he looked rather flustered and panicked my mum asked him what the matter was and he said that his brother was not making any sense and had fallen in the lounge as you can imagine my mum raced across the drive and I raced out of the back door to peek through their lounge window at the back of the house. This was when the nursing flame ignited itself within me for what I saw was a elderly gentleman laying face down as straight as a board on the seat of his armchair. I remember thinking I need to get in there and do something but for the life of me I did not know what that was or how I would do it. My mum as you can imagine came out confused and with a matter of urgency called an ambulance. When I look back on this now it had not just happened and I think the poor man had been there for sometime. Following this for the next seven years I went on with growing up and deciding what I wanted to do with my life always knowing in my mind that this would probably be caring for people and at the age of sixteen I enrolled myself on a care qualification and was placed in a elderly day centre in Ashford where I was exposed to my experiences of personal care and caring for people as a profession. 

    On completion of my course I secured myself a job at the William Harvey Hospital where I was a healthcare assistant on a busy geniatric ward this is where my second experience of death came. I was on a night shift and like every other shift I attended the ward handover where you hear about the patients on the ward and the work that needed doing throughout the night. On this occasion I was asked If i would care for an elderly lady in one of the side rooms. She had fallen at home and was now unable to stand, along with her current conditions she had declined in health and was now entering her end of life. This at the time was very scary for me as I had never looked after someone like this and I really did not know what I was meant to be doing at all. I asked the staff nurse on duty for some advice and she told me she could still hear me and to make her last hours comfortable, with this I returned to the elderly lady and just sat with her, held her hand and spoke about whatever came to mind. I made sure she was comfortable, that her mouth was not too dry and that she was clean. At around 2 am her breathing began to change and she was taking less breaths but they were deeper, I asked the nurse whether this was normal to which she told me it was and that she was close to the end of her life now. I returned to the lady and assumed the position I had kept all night of holding her hand and letting her know she was not alone, at around 4am sadly the lady passed away, this made me feel sad but privileged at the same time, I had never met this lady before but I was the last voice she heard and the last hand she touched. The next part of this story gave me the fright of my life and made me think I could conduct miracles, as part of the process when dealing with the death of a patient you give them a wash and put them into a garment called a shroud to be taken to the morgue. As this was my first experience of this duty and as I was noticeably nervous I asked whether one of the nurses would be able to support me in this to which the night sister came. As we began to wash the lady the nurse working with me asked me the roll the lady onto her side so that she could wash her back, with this I began to roll her when the loudest deepest breath escaped the ladies chest and I jumped ten foot into the air thinking for a brief second I had conducted a miracle and that now the lady was alive. As you can imagine the nurse who had come to assist me could not stop laughing for I had been the victim of a very unkind trick. We finished cleansing the lady, putting her into her shroud and calling the porters making sure they knew this patient was for “Rose Cottage”.

    My most recent experience of death was working as a Student Nurse with my local community nursing team. Me and my mentor had gone to visit a lady with chronic COPD in her home and when we arrived she was really struggling for breath and did not look well at all to top it off she had fallen off her bed and onto the floor. This posed many a problem as there was no hoist, extra staff and the lady was on the larger side. As she had already pressed her lifeline some 4 hours previous and the ambulance was on its way the first thing to do was get the lady into a more comfortable position so that she could at least sit up and regain her breath, with no slide sheets around this was a case of finding something to improvise with so I found a bin liner and a tea towel, by putting the tea towel into the bin liner and moving the lady from side to side I was able with my mentor to get the makeshift slide sheet under the lady enabling me to sit her up. Once she was comfortable we carried out some general observation and found that her oxygen saturations were at 89 which Is not unusual in a patient with COPD but still it was making the act of breathing very difficult for the lady. Once the ambulance arrived and had checked the lady over she decided that she wanted to stay at home as she felt if anything was going to happen to her she would rather be at home than in an unfamiliar environment such as a hospital. I visited her many times that week with my mentor and on every visit the lady had become progressively worse until the friday when we visited and found the lady approaching the end of her life. She was having great difficulty breathing and was using all of the muscles in her abdomen to draw breath. This alarmed my mentor and she asked whether the lady had a DNAR as in her opinion the lady was not going to make it through the day, the lady replied that she did not and but she would not want resuscitating when she passed away. My mentor advised the lady that unless she had a DNAR in place she would have to attempt CPR if the lady passed away, again the lady stated she did not want resuscitating. My mentor then called the ladies doctor who unfortunately was some 20 miles away, with her clinical experience she felt that a DNAR needed to be put into place immediately so that the lady's wishes could be followed. This would mean that my mentor would need to leave me alone with the lady whilst she drove to the GP to get the correct form. Whilst she was gone I spent two hours talking to the lady about her family and how her life had been. I found this to be very fulfilling as I had built a strong but fast relationship with this lady over the last week. My mentor returned a few hours later with the DNAR form and for the next three hours we all sat and chatted making sure that the lady was comfortable and had all she wanted. Sadly that afternoon she passed away with me and my mentor by her side. I reflected a lot on this in the following days and found myself thinking around how strange life is. One minute I knew nothing about this lady and had never met her in my life and the next I had been a constant visitor for the last week and one of the last faces she’d seen. 

    In my opinion aside from all of the great qualities that every nurse and carer has when caring for their patients, you need to be a certain sort of person when dealing with the end of life. You need to remain human but also be able to put your feelings aside for the good of the patient and their loved ones, I guess this comes with time and experience. You would be no use to anyone if you broke down every time a patient died, you need to be able to be kind, compassionate, logical and be able to give strength to all involved in a very sad moment. You also need to remember you are human and that the passing of a client affects people in different ways, you should always seek support from your colleagues and management. I always remember to talk as talk will help you lighten your mental load

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  • 19/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Hearing Loss in Elderly Adults: A Home Care Guide

    Age-related hearing loss, known as Presbycusis, is the most common type of adult hearing loss, affecting 75% of those over the age of 75. Older people may not want to admit they are suffering with hearing loss due to embarrassment or feelings of frustration, and this often leads to them being mistakenly thought of as confused or uncooperative. Older adults who experience problems with hearing are at a greater risk of developing dementia, as memory and concentration can decline faster; so treating hearing problems is incredibly important for cognitive health.

    Older people often don’t like to make a ‘fuss’, or admit that parts of their bodies may be failing with age, so if you are caring for an elderly relative, or live with an older person, how can you spot the signs they might be struggling with hearing loss? You might notice that they find it hard to follow conversations where two or more people are talking, or have trouble hearing someone over the phone. Background noise might be a problem for them, or they might accuse you of mumbling. Maybe when you visit the TV volume is through the roof, or they simply often ask you to repeat what you have just said.

    Because age-related hearing loss usually happens gradually over time, and in both ears, often an older person might not even be aware that they have lost some of their hearing ability. So, what can you do to help an older person with hearing loss to lead a more normal life?

    Convincing them to get a proper medical diagnosis is a good start. Sometimes problems with hearing can be down to Tinnitus, a condition that presents as ringing, clicking, or buzzing in the ears, and is often the first sign of hearing loss in older adults. It can also be a symptom of high blood pressure, or a side effect of certain medications, it can even be caused by something as simple as earwax blocking the ear canal - so well worth getting it checked out, not just hoping it will go away. A doctor will be able to check that the hearing loss isn’t down to a burst eardrum, an infection or virus, or a condition such as diabetes or heart condition.

    Maybe the problem is something as simple as a blocked ear canal and can be treated, and maybe it isn’t, or maybe it is something that can be improved by a hearing aid. The simple fact of the matter is that all too often hearing loss is just a fact of life when it comes to getting older, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you as a relative, friend, or carer of an elderly person can do to make things a little easier for them. Such as:

    Speak a little louder and slower than normal. There’s no need to shout, just be aware that you need to up the volume a little, and at a speed that remains natural, but still allows the person time to catch each word you say

    Repeat yourself if necessary, maybe using different words each time, as some sounds might be easier to distinguish than others

    Always make sure you are facing the person when you are speaking and maintain eye contact. This will make all the difference when it comes to someone with hearing loss being able to understand what you are saying - especially if they find lip reading helpful

    It can be useful to use hand gestures or facial expressions when you are talking to an older person with hearing issues to give some visual clues to what you are saying

    If you are at a social gathering, or anywhere with a lot of background noise, ie: a restaurant, try to find a quieter area to talk, rather than just speaking at a higher volume

    Above all, it is important to be patient; as frustrating as it may be to converse with an older person who is suffering from hearing loss, it is even more frustrating and stressful for them, so always be positive and kind in your responses so that they can continue to navigate the world around them with your help.

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  • Palliative Care
    14/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    What Is The Role Of Palliative Care?

    Palliative care is a term often used in conjunction with‘end of life care’, and is generally thought of as the care received by a patient who isn’t going to recover from a terminal illness. While this is true to a certain extent, the role that palliative care in particular plays in a patient’s life is so much more than simply making sure someone is as comfortable and pain-free as possible. 

    It is a common worry that once a patient is told that they are receiving palliative care that medical professionals have ‘given up’ on them, but this is not the case. Palliative care provides treatment for patients as well as mental and emotional care and support for both them and their family and friends, often in addition to continued treatment for the illness in question. The aim of this type of care is to ensure that the patient has a good quality of life, and can remain as well and as active as possible in the time that they have left; whether that be years or days. This can involve:

    • Managing pain and other physical symptoms
    • Providing psychological, emotional, and even spiritual support
    • Helping with basic needs such as washing or dressing
    • Providing understanding and support for family and friends

    Often referred to as a ‘life-limiting’ illness, terminal illness is one that cannot be cured and includes dementia and motor neurone disease as well as some types of cancer. Palliative care can be administered at any stage of a progressive illness - it doesn’t necessarily mean that a patient is nearing the end - some of those with a life-limiting illness might receive this type of care for years, as it can be used alongside other treatments and therapies such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. However, palliative care of course continues when a patient is nearing the end of their lives, and is then termed ‘end of life care’.

    So, What’s The Difference?

    End of life care is an important part of palliative care and aims to help someone suffering with a terminal illness to live as comfortably as possible. Of course the time frame of how long someone may have left is not easy to predict, and some patients may only end up receiving end of life care for a few weeks or even days. Medications and treatments for the illness may have stopped at this stage, but end of life care is not just about managing pain, it also involves talking to the patient and their loved ones about what to expect towards the end of their life, to discuss their needs and wishes to ensure they receive the kind of care they want, and can even help with the practicalities of things like making a will or getting financial support.

    Is Palliative Care Always Administered In A Hospice?

    Palliative care can be provided in the patient’s own home, in a care or nursing home, or in a hospice - depending on the type of life-limiting illness and what stage it is at. The professionals involved in the patient’s care, such as their GP, care workers and community nurses, will all have a hand in providing palliative care, but will refer the patient to a specialist care professional if needed.

    Specialist palliative care professionals will have plenty of training and experience in this area and will manage more complex care problems. These specialists are provided either by the NHS or voluntary organisations, and are probably the ones you think of when you hear the term ‘palliative care’. Their caring role continues after the death of the terminally ill patient, offering emotional support, understanding and care to loved ones - and are often thought of as invaluable in terms of comfort to those who are recently bereaved.

    To hear that a loved one is receiving ‘palliative’ or ‘end of life’ care can be scary, and all too often it is easy to assume that this is the end; but the families of those receiving such care can take comfort in knowing that the role is primarily about support and, above all, care, which is something we want for everyone we love.

    Find our more about some of the end of life services we provide in kent Click Here

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  • 12/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Someone With Dementia

    When it comes to caring for someone with dementia, whether that is a parent or spouse that you are caring for at home, or as a care professional, approaching the role armed with all the knowledge you possibly can is key - and not just for the patient’s sake. Caring for someone with a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, is emotionally and mentally exhausting, and the thought of it is incredibly daunting. So knowing exactly what it is that you are letting yourself in for, and going in fully prepared, will ease a lot of the stresses and strains that are associated with such a role. We’ve put together some fundamental tips about caring for someone with dementia which we hope will help those who find themselves undertaking this challenging task maintain a positive yet realistic attitude, while also allowing you to keep an element of control and improve upon the care you provide.

    Never Be Afraid To Ask For Help

    This goes for any element of caring for the elderly - or caring in general for that matter! If you start to feel overwhelmed there is no shame in reaching out for help; whether that be to a professional body, or a friend or family member who is going through the same thing. A lot of people who are caring for a family member find support groups helpful, either one you can attend in person or online. These allow you to vent and voice your problems - and even frustrations - with people who understand what you are going through. It’s also a great place to share tips and resources regarding dementia or Alzheimers, and drawing from the experiences of others can be invaluable. Maybe you are a professional carer? This doesn’t mean that you are immune to these feelings or needs either, and there will definitely be times when speaking to a colleague or support group will be hugely beneficial to you too.

    Empathising With The Patient

    Understanding dementia or Alzheimer’s is one thing, but to really care effectively for those who are suffering from these conditions, empathy is one of your biggest tools. Care in general starts with compassion and empathy, and this rings even more true for those caring for someone who has dementia. Imagine how you would feel and how you would want to be treated if you were suddenly unsure of your own identity, the time period you were living in, and were disoriented and confused about your whereabouts….Tapping in to these feelings of fear, confusion and loneliness will really help when it comes to understanding the behaviour and reactions of those you are caring for.

    Be Realistic

    Anyone who has experience of caring for someone with dementia will tell you that patients will have good days and bad days, and you need to be realistic about what counts as ‘successful’ when it comes to the progression of this disease. Success is when the person you are caring for is happy, comfortable and safe. It’s important to remember that most types of dementia are progressive and irreversible, so it’s important to focus on the good days - and even the good moments - as a job well done.

    Plan Ahead

    When you are caring for someone with dementia, change is inevitable. The condition will progress and worsen, and eventually, if you are caring for someone at home, you will need to turn to the professionals. It’s important to plan for this - both financially and practically; when it comes to finding care options in your area. And planning isn’t just important for those who are caring for a loved one at home, professional carers also need to constantly reassess the care needs and health status of their clients with dementia as their care needs inevitably increase.

    Understanding That It Means More Than Just Memory Loss

    Although memory loss is the sign of dementia we all recognise and expect, there are some types of dementia that manifest as personality changes instead as the symptoms will depend on which area of the brain is affected; patients can suddenly develop difficult moods or strange behaviours, and as the disease progresses sufferers can become uncommunicative and unable to recognise loved ones, they might need help with the basic activities of dressing or using the toilet, or even become unable to move about.

    Watching these changes, particularly in someone you love, is heartbreaking, but the more we understand about the illness, and the longer we are able to make the life of someone with dementia rich and fulfilled, that better carers we can all be.

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  • 05/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    How To Choose The Right Care Home For A Loved One

    In an ideal world we would always keep our loved ones close; our elderly parents would be able to see out their days in the home they cherish, and our spouse would always be beside us - in sickness and in health - whatever the circumstances. But unfortunately our world isn’t always ideal. What are we to do if our parents are no longer as safe in their own home due to age and ill health? What if someone we love is displaying increasing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and they need more regular or round the clock care? The time will inevitably come for some of us that we have to have a conversation or make a decision about the professional care options that are open to us. It could be that your elderly loved one is in a position to have plenty of input and opinions to give, or it could be that you have to do the bulk of the decision-making yourself. Either way, if the decision has been made that it is time to consider a care home for your loved one, how do you choose the right one?

    The clue is largely in the title ‘Care Home’; and the ‘caring’ and ‘homely’ aspect of anywhere you look at is going to be of paramount importance. Of course there is a lot more to think about than just that: Would you have to travel far to visit? Does it have a good reputation? What about the costs involved?....How do you choose the right care home?

    Talk It Through - With any luck your family member is able to be a part of the decision making, and if that’s the case you will want to make sure that the care home is going to meet all of their personal requirements. Location, facilities and activities might be incredibly important to them. Maybe they have a place in mind already after hearing recommendations from friends, or perhaps they need a home that will allow them to bring their pet. If your elderly relative is less able to make these decisions then there will be things to consider as a family; such as visiting times, how close it is to your own home, can specialist care be provided for a specific health problem. It will all come down to deciding what features are ‘essential’ and what are ‘desirable’ and finding somewhere that has a healthy balance.

    Make Lists - Once you’ve all discussed your specific requirements you can make a shortlist of those homes that meet them. There will be care services directories you can access and you’ll be able to filter through and pick out those that are worth investigating further. If the care home has a website it is always worth browsing through so you can get more of a feel for how they operate before adding them to your list of ‘possibles’. You’ll also want to make a list of questions to ask once you have narrowed down your list of options. Questions such as?

    • What are the specific costs involved - what is included in the fees, and what are ‘extras’?
    • What activities are on offer?
    • Do residents have access to TV and internet? Are these facilities shared or in their rooms?
    • What is the food like - is there a fixed menu every week or does it vary? Are meals delivered pre-prepared, or cooked on-site using fresh ingredients?
    • What is the staff to patient ratio?
    • When can we visit our loved one?
    • Is there palliative care available if your loved one has an incurable health condition?

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are some important questions you might want to consider.

    Read The Inspection Reports - The UK has four watchdogs whose job it is to inspect care homes and compile reports on facilities and care providers. These reports are public property and can give great insight into how a care home is managed and what level of care is on offer. You will be able to use those reports to see if:

    • Inspections have been frequent - this could indicate problems that need to be checked on again and again
    • Staff turnover is high - this could indicate unhappy staff who aren’t motivated of feeling valued enough within their role to stick around for very long
    • Points that inspectors have raised have been addressed, or whether they appear again on subsequent reports

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list of what you may be able to find out from inspection reports, but much as you would do when choosing a school for your child, reading up on the findings of those bodies in the know can be a big help when making a final decision. Of course, it’s not just about what the experts think….

    Personal Recommendations - A personal recommendation from a happy customer is invaluable when it comes to choosing any product or service - and care homes are no different. It’s all very well and good reading glowing inspection reports and hearing how Jackie down the road’s mum loves it there - but hearing those words from ‘mum’ herself make them all the more relevant. If you know someone who already has a relative in a care home, see if it’s possible to get in touch and talk to them about their experience.

    Getting In Touch - You probably have a few places on your list now that you want to take a closer look at, so it’s worth giving those homes a call and talking to the manager to enquire about the availability of places, and the costs; this will help you to cross any off your list that don’t have spaces or are out of your price range. You may want to ask them to send you a brochure and a breakdown of pricing etc before you make an appointment to visit. Ideally visit the care homes with the family member who will be potentially residing there, but if that’s not possible keep them well informed and take notes during your visit if necessary - are they any questions they specifically want to know the answer to? Can you show them the website or brochure before you go? It’s important that elderly relatives who are cognitively capable don’t feel that the decisions have been completely taken out of their hands.

    Most of us, at some point in our lives will have some experience of choosing a care facility for a loved one, and a difficult decision though it may be, it will be an even harder transition for the relative who will be giving up the home they have probably spent many happy years in. If you can make that change as smooth and stress-free as possible by doing plenty of research and finding somewhere to suit your loved one’s needs, there’s no reason why they won’t feel just as happy and secure in their new home for many years to come.
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  • 26/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    ​Care In Kent Needs YOU!

    Care In Kent Needs YOU!

    I’m sure by now you will have seen the government’s campaign calling for volunteers to help ease the pressure on the already strained NHS. In less than 24 hours more than 250,000 healthy volunteers have responded, ready to support the NHS through the coronavirus crisis by acting as community response volunteers, NHS transport volunteers, or check-an-chat volunteers.

    Care at home around the country are also feeling the strain. In just one day 103 care packages were referred in the south east of Kent - patients who are waiting to be discharged home now that their hospital beds have to be freed up for the expected influx of coronavirus patients.

    And so now we are appealing to you, former carers, to re-join us in this time of unprecedented demand for help, understanding and compassion. Your experience in this field is much needed and valued, and we urgently need your help.

    We are also appealing for volunteers to help us with community support. Maybe you don’t have a professional care background, but are able to give up your time in helping us to pick up prescriptions for those in need, or walking dogs for elderly people who are unable to because they are too vulnerable, and yet need to continue to care for what may be their only companion. There are many, many non-care duties that we desperately need your help in fulfilling.

    If you are able to help us in any capacity, either by lending us your professional care-giving skills, or by offering us community support please get in touch via this online form.

    In the meantime, please, stay safe and well, and remember, this too shall pass.

    Call us today or email us

    Thank you,

    Your Care In Kent Team

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  • 24/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    “Mummy, What’s Wrong With Grandad?” Explaining Dementia To Children: A Guide

    Children, especially those who are very young, thrive on routine and very quickly develop a sense of what is ‘normal’ for them and their family. Anything out of the ordinary can be confusing, unwelcome, and even frightening; and so when a beloved grandparent or other elderly family member is suddenly not ‘normal’, it can be distressing. Nanny doesn’t seem to have the patience for you anymore and she’s struggling to remember the story she has told you a thousand times when you’re snuggled into her lap. Grandad is saying some strange things and he asked your Daddy who he was...yesterday he called you by a name that wasn’t yours… All distressing situations for adults, let alone for a child who is still making sense of the world. 

    So how do we explain to our children what is happening to their beloved family member when we are struggling to come to terms with the reality of it ourselves? In this guide we have put together some suggestions and tips that might help when it comes to telling children about Alzheimer’s and Dementia that, depending on the age of the child, might reassure them and allay some of their fears.

    When Is It The Best Time To Explain Alzheimer’s To A Child?

    When it comes to very grown-up subjects such as Alzheimers or dementia it can be tempting to want to put that discussion off for as long as possible - particularly if you are a little in denial or struggling with the diagnosis yourself, but kids are not stupid, and they will soon pick up on the changes in everyone’s behaviour - not just the beahviour of their ill grandparent. If your child is old enough to understand the concept of people becoming ill, then it is best to discuss the subject with them as soon as possible.

    But How Do You Avoid Frightening Them?

    Of course it is important to explain things in an age-appropriate way and in language that they will understand, but however old they are it is best not to beat around the bush with the facts.

    Incredibly young children have very limited understanding of illness or disease, if any at all, but they are still highly attuned to the atmosphere around them and easily pick up the stress in your voice, or changes in your demeanour. Your best course of action in this case is just to be as comforting and reassuring as possible with your voice and body language.

    From the ages of around 2-6 children are starting to ask lots of questions about the world around them, including why Grandad is suddenly acting differently. It is best to answer their questions as honestly as possible, and if you don’t know the answer; just say so. It is ok to express that you feel sad that Grandad is poorly, and it’s a good idea to encourage them to talk about what they have noticed and how it makes them feel.

    Slightly older children, up to pre-teens, might be ready to learn a bit more about how and why their loved one has developed dementia, and it’s important to share with them what you know. This age group might be less likely to talk about how it makes them feel to see that the grandparent they have known all their lives is changing, and they might have feelings such as anger that they’re having trouble processing and expressing. Encourage them instead to write it down in a diary or journal, or maybe they would feel more comfortable speaking to strangers going through the same thing and would like to join a support group, either in person or online.

    By their teenage years, children might have already seen a family member live with a life-changing illness, or even pass away, and so seeing someone else that they love suffer could have a huge impact on their adolescent life. They might feel that life is unfair and be incredibly angry; or maybe they are in mourning for the grandparent who used to take them out and was so involved in their life, and now doesn’t always know who they are. Let them know it’s ok to be angry, to shout even, or to be scared, and that it is always better to express that than to keep it bottled up. Teenagers are still trying to figure out who they are and what their place is in the world, and grandparents are a huge part of that identity, so it is understandable that they may well swing between acting incredibly grown up about the situation and throwing a childlike tantrum. So brace yourself...but then if you have teenagers you’re probably used to rolling with the punches when it comes to their moods!

    Honesty Is The Best Policy

    Keeping it simple when it comes to telling children the facts about dementia is always the best approach…

    • Answer their questions honestly
    • Let them know that currently there is no cure for dementia
    • Tell them that it is a condition that gets worse over time
    • Talk about ways they can still spend time and connect with their loved one, even if it’s not the same things they used to do
    • Be honest, even if it’s upsetting - building trust with them so that they will come to you and be open with their thoughts and fears is much more important than hiding the ugly truth

    We are always being told that children are resilient creatures who ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity, but that is only true if we make them that way. When it comes to a subject like dementia and how it is affecting someone they have loved all their lives, all we can do is be honest with our children and encourage them to be honest with us so that we can get through what life throws at us together, as a family
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  • 18/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Elderly Fall Prevention: A complete Action Plan

    Once we get older, recovering from a fall isn’t as easy as simply getting up and dusting ourselves off before checking our knees for bruises, and recent statistics tell us that 250,000 people over the age of 65 are treated in hospital as the result of a fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in that age group, and 30% of those who fall will suffer from broken bones or head injuries. Those are some frightening numbers, and a cause for concern if you have an elderly relative - especially if they live alone.

    There are several different types of fall that could be experienced by an older person, and they can be categorised into three separate types.

    1. Environmental - the most common types of fall, and usually the result of a cluttered living space.
    2. Health-based falls - caused by a chronic condition or medication side effects.
    3. Trigger falls - caused by a sudden event, ie: someone pushing past in the street, or a dog pulling on a lead.
    4. The risk of an older person falling is high due to a number of factors such as:
    5. Eyesight - changes in our vision as we age can play a huge part in causing a person to fall. It could prevent an elderly person from seeing trip hazards.
    6. Balance - Getting older can make you unsteady on your feet, and this can cause particular problems when navigating stairs or tying shoes.
    7. Medications - Dizziness is a common side effect with some medications and can make people susceptible to falls, however it is often overlooked.
    8. Chronic Health Conditions - Conditions such as Parkinson’s can cause an elderly person to fall.
    9. Cognitive Impairment - Dementia or Alzheimers can cause instability and balance issues, and head trauma caused by a fall can accelerate cognitive impairment.
    10. Lack of Safety Measures - Excessive clutter can cause a trip hazard, as can loose wiring, rugs and non-slip bath mats.

    If you are the relative, friend, partner, or carer of an elderly person there are measures you can help them take that will minimise the likelihood of experiencing a fall, and help create some piece of mind for you both.

    • Help to declutter their environment so it’s easy for them to move throughout their living space. Check for slippery surfaces, loose floorboards etc.
    • Suggest a stability device such as a walking frame or stick if it’s an idea they are open to.
    • Be aware of the side effects of medications your loved one is taking and make sure they are aware of them too.
    • Discuss safety features and help them to implement some in their home, such as anti-slip mats under rugs, non-slip bath mats, safety rails and frames in the bathroom.

    The older we become the more frail our body, and therefore the easier it is to sustain an injury. Traumatic brain injuries are a huge risk when an elderly person falls and often the symptoms don’t present until a week or two later, so it is essential to stay vigilant. Some signs to look out for if someone recently had a fall include:

    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Memory loss
    • Confusion
    • Bladder incontinence
    • Balance issues

    Even with all the possible precautions taken, a fall could still occur so it helps to be prepared for the worst and know what to do if it happens.

    • Call for medical attention immediately, even if there are no obvious signs of injury.
    • Do not try to help them straight up - your instinct will probably be to try and lift their weight, instead get pillows or towels to support their joints and make them comfortable. If the fall occurs outside you could use your coat or jumper.
    • Make sure the persons stays warm by covering them with a blanket or item of warm clothing. People who fall can be at risk of hypothermia.

    If being warm isn’t a concern and the person who has fallen feels that they can move a little, support them in continuing to make gentle movements. Staying still on one spot can cause stiffness, soreness and skin damage.

    Older people long to keep their independence for as long as possible, and with a few simple measures in place they will be able to go about their daily lives with as little risk as possible. Having a plan of action in place, that you devise together, will ensure peace of mind all round.
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  • 17/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Coronavirus Customer Update⚠️

    Dear friends,

    We would like to thank you for your continued loyalty and support at a time which is proving fairly confusing for us all. We want to assure you that we remain very much open as usual, but are closely monitoring the advice given from the UK Government regarding the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak.

    Whilst the Coronavirus #COVID19 continues to spread further across the UK, we are maintaining a calm and practical approach to this issue and taking our responsibility of our team and our clients very seriously.

    As a team, we are adhering to best practice guidelines provided by the
    Government and Public Health England. Click here to learn more

    So we hope you will feel the steps we are taking so far are reasonable:

    ▶️We are operating a “no shaking hands” policy to reduce the risk of
    contamination through direct contact.
    ▶️ We are encouraging our carers/clients to contact us by phone, email, video
    call and Social Media where possible and avoid unnecessary visits to our
    ▶️ Please use the hand sanitisers, wipes and or hand wash provided in the
    office if your visit is essential.
    ▶️ If you have recently (within the last 14 days) returned from any destination outside of the UK, we would respectively ask you to contact us by phone or email rather than visiting our offices.
    ▶️ If you are a carer or client and are self-isolating upon official medical advice, please make us aware before planning for an office or a home appointment.
    ▶️ If a care worker /client is concerned they have COVID-19 they should follow NHS advice.
    ▶️If you are advised to self-isolate at home you should follow the stay at home guidance.
    ▶️If advised to self-isolate at home, you should not visit and care for individuals until safe to do so.
    ▶️ AVOID TOUCHING surfaces and your face.

    This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious

    We are well prepared as a business to have all staff working from home as and if
    required and aim to carry on “business as usual”.

    Please do contact us if you have any questions and we will do our very best to
    help you.

    Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

    Kimberley Stevens

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  • 16/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Elderly Parents While Raising A Young Family: A Guide

    There are fewer things more stressful, guilt-inducing or emotional than caring for an elderly parent, or raising children. Now imagine trying to juggle both, and throw in a job and a personal life for good measure. In today’s society where people are starting families later in life, and people are living longer, many are now simultaneously becoming parents and carers, and finding themselves part of the so-called ‘sandwich’ generation. This parent/carer role is largely falling to women, with 10% of the women in the UK between the ages of 45 and 56 raising children whilst also being the sole or joint carer for their parents, or a spouse’s parents. Hearing these numbers it’s not surprising to learn that many of these women are finding themselves feeling overwhelmed and alone. 

    Every situation is different, and depending on factors such as how close you live to your ailing parents, the ages of your children, and whether or not you are also in paid employment, will all make a difference to how you balance everything. Caring for both children and the elderly requires patience, compassion and tolerance - and it’s understandable that there will be times when you will wonder where you can draw extra stores of those attributes from!

    Below we have compiled a list of coping strategies that can be applied to most situations, and hopefully will address some of the more ‘challenging’ aspects of simultaneously caring for the very old and the very young.

    Outsource - If you are trying to do everything at once and be all things to everyone, it won’t be long before you are too exhausted to care for anyone at all. Getting help is not failing - in fact sometimes it is the most sensible thing to do. Outsourcing some of the care of either your elderly parents or the kids doesn’t have to mean handing over complete responsibility; but you’ll find that just making some small changes will be hugely beneficial in helping you cope. Let’s say for example your elderly mother needs help taking her medications in the morning and getting dressed, but this clashes with the school run; does your kid’s school run a breakfast club? Being able to drop the kids at school an hour early, so they can eat with their friends and socialise before class in a safe and secure environment can offer peace of mind, and free up some time. Or maybe watching your child’s football practice after school on a wednesday clashes with the time you usually cook for your parents; could a relative or partner prepare the meal on that day? Or maybe you could employ a meals delivery service for wednesday evening instead?

    Time Management - Running around like a headless chicken because you have 95,000 things to organise at once isn’t going to help anyone, so it’s very important that you manage your time and prioritise. It can help to label tasks, such as, ‘urgent’, ‘could wait until later’ etc. For example: taking an elderly parent to a hospital or GP appointment is a top priority, but mowing their lawn can wait. A school parents’ evening or dropping the kids to a friend’s birthday party on time is a top priority, but going into town to pick them up the latest video game is not. Of course it helps if you can explain to everyone concerned that you all need to work together to distinguish the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ - easier said than done if your elderly parent is suffering from some sort of dementia, or if your kids are very little. It may be a case of having to gently explain to your mum that reorganising her kitchen for her is less important than attending your daughter’s ballet recital, or telling your son that dropping him to meet his mates right now this second isn’t as pressing as picking up his nan’s prescription.

    Have A Future Plan In Place - No one wants to expect the worst, but when it comes to caring for the elderly the situation has the potential to change very quickly; a fall, catching a sudden illness, or starting to develop signs of dementia are all examples of things that could happen and pile on extra stress. Even fit, young, and healthy people are not immune - what would you do if a child suddenly became ill, or you yourself? Having a plan in place will make it much easier to cope should something like this happen. Is there someone within the family, or an organisation, you can call upon to provide some respite care to your elderly parents should you suddenly be unable to? Is there someone you can call upon to watch the kids if your parent is suddenly admitted to hospital - or worse? Not pleasant things to think about, but these are the practical realities of being a member of the ‘sandwich generation’. And while we are at it….

    Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help - There are many reasons you might not want to reach out to others when it comes to helping with the kids and your elderly parents. Pride, embarrassment, not wanting to be a burden….maybe even feelings of guilt, but if you yourself buckle under the strain then everyone suffers. It is much better to reach out when you can feel it’s becoming too much, and you’ll find that more often than not people are happy to lend a helping hand. Is there a friend who would be happy to grab a few extra bits for your parents while they are shopping so that you don’t have to pop back to the supermarket when you’ve already been; or pick the kids up from their after school clubs when they get their own kids. You’ll find that these sorts of requests are usually met with a ‘yes’ - particularly as they don’t involve anyone going out of their way, but would be hugely beneficial to you in terms of time-saving and scheduling.

    Talk To Your Employer - It could be that on top of everything else you have going on that you are also trying to balance a paid job as well! Most employers will make allowances for working parents, but what about if you need time off because it is your mother who is sick, rather than your child? Speak to your HR department and do some research so that you know your rights. It could be that your employer can offer you flexi-time or a day working from home, or, at the very least, be able to show more compassion and understanding if you are sometimes late or seem stressed or overwhelmed.

    Try And Schedule In Some ‘Me’ Time - Easier said than done I’m sure, but it is incredibly important that you put aside some time where you only have to think about yourself - even if it’s just for an hour a week. Choose a day when there aren’t any after school commitments or doctors appointments scheduled and plan for it in advance. Arrange for the kids’ dad to take them out for something to eat so that you don’t have to cook and can have the house to yourself and enjoy a long bath; or hire a babysitter and enjoy a date night. You can make sure you have your phone to hand for emergencies, but it is important for your own mental health to be able to take even a small amount of time to step back and put your own needs first.

    It’s Ok To Moan About It - On occasion we all need to vent, and it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have days where you feel you need to complain; afterall, the kids have been a nightmare this week and the washing machine’s broken, and now your dad wants you to come round and explain online shopping for the 96,000th time….Sharing your frustration with a partner or friend can be a cathartic way of letting it all out, thinking together of ways to solve the problem, and maybe even laughing about the situation, before taking a deep breath and starting again.

    Accept The Guilt - No one ever really feels that they are a good enough parent 100% of the time, and those feelings are magnified if you are also splitting your time and attention with your elderly parents. But guilt is a draining and counterproductive emotion and so it is important to recognise that and talk about it with someone impartial to help your gain perspective. Always remember that if the time comes that you have to seek the help of a professional care facility or organisation in order to make sure that everyone’s needs are met, it doesn’t mean that you have failed your parents - accepting help when it comes to caring for the elderly is a sign of strength, not weakness, and if conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's start to present themselves it can be a necessity.

    Be sure to remind yourself often of all the good that you do and what you achieve on a day-to-day basis. You may have to adjust your expectations of yourself to be more realistic - you are only human after all, but above all, be kind to yourself too and remember you are not alone.

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  • 07/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    What Are The Signs That Your Elderly Parents Need Help? And What Do You Do If They Refuse It?

    There are fewer things scarier than getting older, but watching your parents get older is definitely one of them. Afterall, we have always known them as strong and independent; as our caregivers. They are the people we turn to when we are feeling scared, or worried, or in need of help. So what happens when the tables are turned, as they inevitably are, and it is our turn to care for them? How are they going to react to you suggesting they visit a doctor, or telling them to take things easy, or asking if they need help with anything? Will you even be able to recognise the signs that they need help in the first place? And what will you do if they refuse to accept that help?

    Obviously the effects of getting older don’t happen overnight, and so it will probably be an accumulation of the changes you notice in your parents’ habits and behaviours that will alert you that maybe the time has come to suggest some help. Signs such as:

    A Lack Of Interest - Has your dad always been a keen gardener? Does your mum always meet her friends in town for a coffee on a Wednesday? Do they both always attend church and participate keenly in social events? If there are certain hobbies and interests that your parents have always enjoyed, and this suddenly changes, it could point to an underlying problem. Obviously we all have ‘off’ days, regardless of age, and there may well be times when they simply aren’t in the mood to do something they normally enjoy. But if they are regularly lacking the energy and enthusiasm for the things they have previously always looked forward to, it might be time to offer some help. Perhaps these changes are down to your parents starting to feel concerns about driving or taking public transport, and you could offer a lift or accompany them on occasion; or perhaps there is an unaddressed medical issue and you can gently suggest a trip to their GP.

    Changes In Personal Hygiene - If you notice that one or both of your parents is no longer taking care of themselves in the same way they used to, it could be down to a number of reasons. Maybe your dad’s worn that same shirt the last three times you’ve seen him because he’s struggling after losing your mum; or perhaps your mum hasn’t had her hair done recently because there are financial issues. Either way, make having a conversation about what you have noticed your first step. This can then lead to a visit to a doctor if needed, or looking at the household budget. Sometimes a change in personal hygiene habits can be an early sign of depression or Alzheimers, so it’s important that these changes are recognised and discussed.

    Forgetfulness - It’s natural for everyone to be forgetful at times, but if you are noticing that your parents are increasingly forgetting to pay bills or keep appointments, or are repeating themselves often and putting things in unusual places, it might be time to seek some help. Speaking to your parents’ doctor about a medical and cognitive evaluation would be helpful in determining whether it could be the onset of dementia, or other medical issues. As with most things, it is better to diagnose conditions like this early so it is worth bringing this up with a medical professional as soon as you start to notice any symptoms.

    Trouble Getting About - It is to be expected that as we age we are going to be less steady on our feet, and maybe you have noticed recently that your parent is having trouble walking or getting up from their chair, or that the stairs are becoming increasingly difficult. Age-related issues such as muscle or joint pain make these problems fairly common, so talk to your parents about seeing their GP in case there are medication options that could help. It might be a case of discussing with your parents the possibility of making modifications to the home, or implementing the use of a walker or cane.

    Lack Of Appetite - Have you noticed that your parents are losing weight, or aren’t cooking proper meals? Is the fridge full of food that has gone out of date before it can be consumed? This can often be the case if you have sadly lost one of your parents, and the other doesn’t feel that there is much point in preparing food for one. Maybe they weren’t the one who normally did the cooking, or they are struggling with reading recipes, using appliances or getting to the shops. It is worth persuading your parents to see a GP; maybe there is an issue with taste and smell that needs to be checked out. You can also help by checking that the cupboards and fridge are stocked with quick and healthy options, and that they are staying hydrated - particularly in hot weather. Employing a meal delivery service, or even preparing meals yourself might also be an option if that is something they are open to.

    The Appearance Of Injuries - If you are suddenly noticing minor injuries such as bruises and scratches when you visit your parents, it could be a sign that your loved one is having trouble taking care of themselves. It could be that the house needs a bit of a revamp in order to make it easier for them to get around without hurting themselves. If it’s a case of them tripping or falling often then a visit to the doctor should be encouraged to check that there isn’t an underlying medical issue.

    A Change In Personality - Seeing personality changes in someone you love as they grow older could be an early warning sign of conditions such as Alzheimers or dementia. Are your parents displaying odd behaviours such as accusing others of saying and doing things, especially in the evenings? Late-day confusion or, ‘sundowning’, as it is known can be one explanation and it is thought that not enough exposure to natural sunlight could be a contributing factor. As with any changes in an older person’s physical or cognitive health, a visit to the GP is recommended.

    Of course it’s all very well and good recognising some of these signs and talking to your parents about your concerns for them, but what can you do if they refuse help? Maybe they think you are worrying unnecessarily, or don’t want to burden you with their health issues. It could be that they are worried themselves about their own health, especially if they are aware that they’re becoming more forgetful or unsteady on their feet and are avoiding the situation - and the doctor, under the misguided idea that ‘ignorance is bliss’.

    Discuss Options Early - In an ideal world subjects such as care homes or in-home help etc would be discussed within families far in advance of the services actually being needed. A huge factor in people refusing help as they get older can be the fear of losing independence, whereas if they have already made decisions about what measures they want put in place when they become older they can retain those feelings of being in control of their own lives.

    Speak To A Professional - If your parents won’t speak to you about their health concerns then try to convince them to speak to a professional - either an agency that specifically deals with the concerns of more senior citizens, or even their GP. If they refuse and you are really concerned about their well-being, you could speak to these organisations yourself and see what advice they offer.

    Don’t Give Up - Although it can be frustrating when someone is refusing the help you think they so badly need, don’t forget that it’s not half as frustrating as needing help and feeling too proud or stubborn to ask for it! Most parents will be touched by your concern and all too happy to put your mind at rest by accepting your suggestions, but for those who don’t, all is not lost. Unless you feel that there is a serious and immediate danger to their health, your best bet is to be patient and kind, make gentle suggestions, and help out where you can.

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  • 29/02/2020 0 Comments
    Carers: Unskilled Labour, Or Our Most Undervalued Resource?

    The job title, ‘carer’ is a simple one, and one that doesn’t even begin to encompass the complexity of what the role entails. To be a carer is not simply just to help with the daily needs and activities of the elderly or infirm - such as feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting. It is so much more; it is also lifting and moving. It is helping with cooking and cleaning, vacuuming, changing beds. Being a carer is administering medications or helping to change dressings. It is helping with tasks such as shopping, banking, transportation. It is observing, monitoring and recording the client's physical and mental well-being. It is listening and encouraging. It is kindness and patience. 

    It is also misunderstood, undervalued, and poorly paid - and has recently been labelled by the government as ‘unskilled’, which is ignorant at best and insulting and dangerous at worst. Caring for the most frail and vulnerable members of our society requires a great deal of skill. It requires high empathy, understanding and incredible levels of patience. Caring is a highly intimate profession that demands high levels of tolerance, humour even, and in some cases maybe a strong stomach, determination and strength. Carers leave their own lives at the door when they enter work; they don’t allow their welfare of their clients to be compromised by their personal lives, by their bad moods or other emotions. Carers put the emotional and physical needs of others before their own - Every. Single. Day.

    This is not a skill set that is innate to every human being. Could you do it? Sure, we all do our best to be kind, patient and unselfish, but I think very few us could truly admit that we could continue to showcase those skills while someone with severe dementia is yelling at us or being cruel, or while we spend two hours helping a frail person around a busy supermarket, or are cleaning someone who hasn’t made it to the toilet in time for the third time that day...and all while being respectful and maintaining dignity for that person. In fact, this very specific skill set is so rare that it greatly contributes to the shortage of carers in this country, and so the industry relies greatly on immigrant carers, as well as those who are British born.

    This makes the government’s recent comments about introducing an immigration points system particularly worrying for the care industry. Foreign nationals currently make up a sixth of the 840,000 care workers in the UK, but under the government’s new plans anyone wanting to apply to work in the UK care sector from abroad would fall short of the points required to enter the country; both due to it being labelled ‘unskilled’ work, and the fact that it is a low-paid occupation (under £20,000 on average).

    On top of that, care work still isn’t classed as a shortage occupation, despite the fact that 1 in 11 posts is currently unfilled, and it is this lack of awareness of the industry by the government, coupled with their, quite frankly, offensive comments about the work being unskilled, are an incredibly dangerous combination - throw in added problem of incredibly low pay, and we have a ticking time bomb. At some point in our lives it is likely we will all need the assistance of a carer (even you, Mr Primeminister), whether that be because we develop dementia or a disability, or simply because we will age. And when that time comes I’m sure we all want to be cared for by someone who feels appreciated enough within that role to offer us their skills of compassion, understanding, patience, kindness and warmth.

    Who will care for us, if we don’t care for our carers?

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  • 13/02/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Keeping An Eye On Elderly Neighbours During The Winter Months

    The cold winter weather is unpleasant for everyone, but for your elderly neighbours it can mean more than just having to defrost the car and turning the heating up a bit. Older people can struggle in a variety of ways during the winter months; they are more susceptible to illnesses and might find it difficult to go about their daily routine if there is ice or snow on the ground. Maybe they aren’t capable of preparing themselves a hot meal or staying warm due to high heating bills or immobility. Looking after those vulnerable members of our community is easier if we know a bit about the dangers they might face, and how we can help. The first step is getting to know your elderly neighbours and take note of their routines and lifestyle. Do they live alone? Have a lot of visitors? Have a carer who comes in? Do they have issues with mobility, or are they still quite active? All of these things will contribute to their quality of life, and it is those who live alone and have no visitors that aren’t able to get out and about who might need your support most during the winter months. Let’s take a look at some of the problems the elderly might face.

    ● Illnesses - As we get older our immune system becomes weaker, making it much harder to fight off germs and infections. Colds, flu, norovirus, and pneumonia are all common winter ailments, and over 60% of cases of those illnesses that need hospital treatment are in people over 65.

    ● Staying Warm - Muscle mass keeps us warm, and over the age of 55 we begin to lose 1% of our muscle mass every year; combine that with the fact that older bodies have to work harder to keep warm and you can see how the cold can put more pressure on our circulatory systems and hearts. Being exposed to cold temperatures can cause blood pressure to rise, and the blood to thicken, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

    ● Disabilities - An older person could suffer many disabilities to varying degrees, whether that means being immobile and housebound, or just struggling with getting about due to arthritis or frailty. Colder weather, especially prolonged periods or extreme conditions such as snow, could mean that older people feel even more isolated and lonely - particularly if the weather is too bad for them to go about their daily routine, or for relatives or friends to visit. If there is an older person in your community that could be affected by any of these factors,
    there are some things you could do to help out during the cold weather that would make their lives a little easier. Such as:

    ● Helping With Medications - Everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to a free flu jab,even those who are fit and healthy. Do your elderly neighbours need help getting to a doctor or a pharmacy to have the jab? Maybe they don’t drive, or do, but are wary of driving to the doctors or walking to a bus stop in icy weather. Could you offer a lift? Let your neighbour know that there is a vaccine for pneumonia too, they can ask when they go for their flu jab if they are eligible. Find out if your neighbour needs to stock up on any cold or sore throat remedies, or needs any prescriptions picking up. Sometimes older people don’t like to ask others for favours for fear of putting them out, but not nipping symptoms in the bud if they are feeling under the weather could be a recipe for disaster that leads to nastier illnesses.

    ● Are They warm Enough? - It is a sad fact that a lot of elderly people, particularly those living alone on a state pension struggle to afford to heat their homes. If you have an elderly neighbour whom you suspect may be experiencing this situation advise them to get in touch with Age UK, or call them for some advice yourself. They might be able to support with heating costs or give energy-saving tips, such as government funded schemes for cavity wall insulation etc. Practical ways you can help is checking that they have enough blankets and warm clothing, such as thick socks to keep feet warm, gloves, and scarves.

    ● Encourage Them To Move - Possibly not the easiest subject for a neighbour to broach, but it is important that older people don’t stay inactive for long periods, especially during cold weather. Even if someone has a condition that makes movements difficult, any small amount of activity is better than none. If you are on really good terms with your neighbour, maybe just ask them if they are staying relatively active and mention some of the health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and keeping joints supple.

    ● Are They Eating Well? - At least one hot meal a day, as well as hot drinks, are important during the winter. If the weather has been particularly bad, could you offer to pick a few things up from the shop so they don’t have to go out? Are you cooking a large family meal and have made a bit extra that you could take round for them to heat up? This will all depend on how independent your neighbour is - perhaps they get shopping delivered, and are perfectly capable of cooking themselves a hot meal. It pays to be vigilant and offer a helping hand if you feel it’s needed.

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