Covid Shouldn’t Prevent You Getting The Care You Need

Many older people find everyday life an increasing struggle. They experience isolation and their health or care needs place a growing burden on over-stretched care givers. In normal times, moving into a residential care or nursing home would have been an obvious step to explore.

The pandemic changed this. But we are now one year on from the first wave of Covid-19 infections and we are in a much better place. The vaccination programme for care staff and older people is well advanced. By the time this article is published everyone over 70 should have had at least one dose of the vaccine, which is enough to protect against serious illness.

Even without vaccines our care homes are in a strong position to continue protecting our residents. There’s regular testing for staff and clients and no new residents are admitted or transferred from hospital without a negative test. Altogether Care has also invested in the highest standards of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff and residents. Alongside this we maintain rigorous cleaning and hygiene measures.



For the time being we are still not allowing any visitors to our homes. As the vaccination programme rolls out further this will be reviewed. But, in the meantime, it’s safety-first. Our residents are supported to use tools like Zoom and Facetime to stay in touch with friends and family while we maintain distancing – which we want to be physical rather than social.

Naturally, we can’t run the full range of activities and outings that our residents have become used to. Life in our homes is still a little different. But there’s the reassurance that personal and medical care needs are being looked after and that there’s regular contact with other people in a safe environment.


Arguably, care homes will soon be among the safest places to be, thanks to vaccinations and strict protective measures. Above all, they are places where people are well looked after and not alone. Moving into a care home remains a positive step for many older people that will help them to enjoy a better quality of life. Perhaps now is the time to reconsider that ‘next step.’

To find out more about our care homes or to organise care for loved one, contact 01305 300 161 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.


Looking Forward To Life After Lockdown And Shielding

As more of the UK population becomes vaccinated and Covid-19 infections continue to fall, at some point lockdown restrictions will be eased. For people who’ve been shielding during the pandemic, this can’t come soon enough. Even so, many will want to remain cautious. Venturing back out into the world could feel like a big step and there will still be some risks.

Until the overwhelming majority of the UK population has been vaccinated, controlling the spread of the virus remains a priority. It will be far from a case of everything immediately returning to normal. Regaining your independence in a way that feels safe – and is safe – will be a gradual process.

Crowded shops and town centres are still best avoided for some time as they are still a risk. Soon though, we’ll be into spring and better weather. Quieter, open spaces will be a more manageable way to spend time with the friends and family you’ve been missing and to adjust to being outdoors and around people that you don’t know. Being outdoors is good for physical and emotional wellbeing.

Help With Everyday Tasks

It’s still important to ask for help when you need it. This could be with shopping, personal care or domestic chores for example. Once you’ve been vaccinated it will be easier for people to offer help – there’s much less risk of anyone passing on the virus to a vulnerable person. Even so, people who come into your home should continue to wear masks and wash their hands thoroughly.


Being cautious yourself will also help ensure that you don’t unwittingly transmit the virus to anyone who visits your home (something that may still be possible even after vaccination).

Learning to use technology is still worthwhile. Video conferencing and messaging apps make it easy to stay connected even when you can’t meet in person as often as you’d like to.

You could also consider using a home care provider to help with personal and domestic care. You might not have been ready to do this while you were shielding but a few hours help each week with personal care or tasks like cleaning and shopping can make an enormous difference to your life.


Altogether Care offers a professional and friendly care at home service in Dorset, South Somerset and Hampshire. Get in touch on 01305 300 161 if you’d like to find out more about your options.

In The Spotlight: Martin Strange, Head Chef, Weymouth Care Home

Martin Strange has been with Altogether Care for over 15 years as part of a catering career that spans 40 years. Today, he is the Head Chef at the Weymouth Care Home. Early in his career, he learned French and British cuisine and added other styles of cooking to his repertoire over the years to reflect the changing tastes of the population.

Over the years, Martin has earned an excellent reputation at Weymouth Care Home, with Altogether Care staff and residents giving nothing but positive feedback.

Stephen Knell, Chief Executive Officer at Altogether Care, said the following about the work Martin does on a daily basis.

“We feel very privileged to have such a skilled chef within the Altogether Care family at Weymouth Care Home. I always enjoy seeing Martin’s meals and desserts come out of his kitchen and the eyes light up on residents’ faces. I also notice the empty plates coming back, which is always a good sign and shows that the residents also approve. Meal times really are something extra to look forward to for them. Martin is such a valued individual, a very talented chef, and key member of our team. We are really proud of Martin – well done and thank you for your hard work.” 


We decided to catch up with Martin to gain insight into what drives his passion for food, and how he succeeds in catering for a wide range of individual requirements and to the highest standard.

How has Martin’s experience enabled him to cater for care home residents with unique dietary requirements?

I achieved a good standard and won gold and silver awards as I worked my way up to becoming Head Chef at various hotels and restaurants,” said Martin.

“The catering and menu planning challenges are different in care homes compared to hotels and resturants. There’s a greater focus on nutrition and balance and I need to know about special diets, allergens and how to work around challenging situations. But the basic objective is the same: to come up with tempting, delicious meals that are prepared to a consistently high standard.”

Martin became interested in care some years ago after he started working in residential care homes on a part-time basis. He eventually joined the Altogether Care team full-time. What does he see as the priorities?

“In a care home, it’s important to tailor food in terms of taste, colour and texture according to each client’s needs. You have to really know the individual and get everything right for them so that they feel safe. If they’re happy then their families are happy.”

For many people, food is one of life’s great pleasures and keeping the meals interesting and enjoyable is an essential part of the job. How does the team at Weymouth Care Home achieve this?

“We cook all of our main meals fresh every day. We do a wide range of cuisines. We’ve had Chinese nights for example, we do regular cake days, we’ve done St. Patrick’s Day. Guests can expect dishes like salmon and prawn sauce, steak and red wine sauce – a wide range of things according to their dietary needs.”


A large part of the task is to ensure that clients’ individual needs and preferences are taken care of, which is about more than just the style of food on offer.

“We keep an eye on clients with dementia especially to help them maintain their diet. For example, we give them the same coloured plates each time they eat for familiarity and comfort. Things are a little unusual at the moment with some clients isolating within their rooms. Normally, we have a full schedule of activities and themed nights, which we’re looking forward to getting going again after the pandemic.”

“If it puts a smile on one person’s face, then you’ve done your job.”

Martin is clearly enjoying his time at Weymouth Care Home for many reasons. What can residents expect in the future?

“You get the opportunity to express your skills. For example at Christmas, you can really push the boat out. People do tend to eat with their eyes. It’s rewarding to be able to deliver fantastic meals that are pleasing to the eye and to get such positive feedback from everyone at the care home.

We currently have a Wishing Tree, where clients can hang requests for what they would like to eat, among other wishes, upon the tree. And everything that a client wants, I’ve prepared, such as bakewell tart and coffee and walnut cake. If it puts a smile on one person’s face, then you’ve done your job.

To find out more about Weymouth Care home, contact 01305 300 161 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk

Some recent day to day activities