What’s the difference between a job and a career? A job is simply something you do for money. You trade a number of hours of your life for a financial return. Your job last year or next year doesn’t look much different from your job today.
A career is something you commit to for the longer term. Ahead of you, you can see a pathway to new skills, new knowledge and new opportunities.
Not everyone wants or needs a career. For some, a job is fine – they just want to pay the bills. But for a lot of people a job with repetitive routines and experiences isn’t a good fit. It’s dull and unfulfilling. It doesn’t feel like they’re doing anything that matters very much.
If that all sounds a bit too familiar, maybe it’s time to explore different options.
The care sector is a great place to build a career. There are different types of care and many different specialisms to explore and potentially master. There is always opportunities to continuing learning and developing as a person.
Are Jobs Secure?
The other issue when you have a job can be security. The world of work is constantly changing; Your job today might not exist in a few years’ time. If your knowledge and skills aren’t evolving, you might not find it easy to adapt to something new.
Your career is something to engage with, in a way that you never can with a job. It can bring satisfaction, pride in your work and a sense of achievement as you progress.
Another big advantage of building your career in the care sector is that there will always be a need for what you do. The population is ageing and some people will need specialist care as they live longer and develop health conditions, others will just need a bit of help with everyday life. Your skills will always be in demand.
If you ask most older people what they value most when they use care services, ‘independence’ usually comes near the top of the list. But what does ‘independence’ mean?
Meet Marjorie. She’s a bit less mobile than she used to be. Her daughter who lives in a different part of the country is worried about whether Marjorie can manage in her own home and what would happen if she had a fall.
She suggests that her mother should move into a specially converted annex in her daughter’s house where she can live independently but with somebody on hand to look out for her.
It seems like a sensible solution. It would suit many people. But for Marjorie it means moving out of the home she knows, away from her friends and her social life. It doesn’t feel like independence.
And that’s the point – independence is whatever it means to the individual.
Altogether Care encourages all of our care home residents to live as independently as possible. We know that this is important for mental wellbeing.
For our clients in residential care this works just fine. Their idea of independence is often the freedom to get on with things they enjoy, including the wide range of activities available, while somebody else takes care of many of the routine chores of daily life. But it isn’t the right option for everyone.
For other people independence means staying in their own home for as long as possible. We help them to live independently with support from our care at home service, which includes assistive technology for peace of mind for all the family. Sometimes they opt for round-the-clock care and companionship with live-in care.
We always listen to the individual and try to understand what matters most. It’s not fair to impose solutions – no matter how well intentioned.
We never assume we know what somebody means when they say they want independence. It’s a personal matter. Good quality elderly care is all about personal choices and supporting people in the way they want to live.
That’s why Altogether Care offers a range of care services that support people in the most appropriate way and so their care can be continuously adapted as their needs and wishes evolve.
The New Year is typically the time of year when we reflect on the things we want to change in our lives. Since it takes up so much precious time, maybe your job is a good place to start.
According to recent research by the Resolution Foundation, 54% of people say they are ‘satisfied’ with their work. Put another way, nearly half aren’t. And ‘satisfied’ isn’t really a demanding benchmark, is it?
How many of those people are enthused by their work because they can see that it’s worthwhile and they feel supported by their employer? Do they get to go home at the end of every day and say, ‘what I did today was important and made a difference’?
Is Yours a Good Place to Work?
Job satisfaction isn’t just about the work you do and the tasks you perform. Your relationship with your employer also matters. So, what’s your relationship with your current job and employer like? Would you use any of the following words to describe it: trust, respect, positive, compassionate?
These, along with safety, are the principles outlined in Altogether Care’s Staff Charter. More importantly they’re the values that govern how we work, what you could expect from us as an employer and what we would expect from you in return.
If those values sound appealing but don’t reflect your current job, maybe it’s time for a change. In the care sector you have the opportunity to do something that really matters every day. Something that makes a difference to people’s lives. Not many careers give you the chance to do that. And at Altogether Care you’ll find a supportive employer who will help you build your career in care.
A career in care means doing important work with lots of responsibility. While that can be a welcome change from more routine jobs, we recognise it can also be a bit daunting. That’s why we work hard to support you as a new recruit and equip you with the skills and confidence you need.
What will never happen is a situation where you’re expected to deliver care without proper training and guidance. You will always have the knowledge, skills and support you need to do your job.
When you start a new career in care there’s a lot to learn. We’re careful not to overload you with too much information in one go – so your induction programme can stretch over several weeks including shadow shifts. During that time, you’ll be supported by your supervisor to help you apply what you’ve learned in practice.
The induction programme starts by making sure you understand your role and what you’ll be expected to do. You’ll also learn more about Altogether Care and the sector in general.
We also look at more general topics such as communication, equality and diversity, health and safety and safeguarding. Making sure that you and the clients you support are safe at all times is our first priority.
As an organisation we are fully committed to putting our clients first. We make sure they are fully involved in all decisions affecting their care. The induction programme also covers how this works in practice.
Your New Career In Care
The induction programme is just the start. Many of our staff have been with us for a long time. Part of the reason for this (apart from being a generally great place to work) is that everyone is actively supported to develop their skills and career. You’ll have regular reviews with your supervisor and regular training to update your knowledge and skills.
So if you’re considering a change of job, a new career in care could be just what you need. At Altogether Care you’ll get all the support you need to help you make the transition and succeed.
Moving into a care home is a big step. Ideally, you’ll want to take some time over the decision so that you’re well prepared for the adjustment. It’s then much more likely to be a successful transition.
In current times, with high Covid rates across the country, moving into a care home can seem like an even bigger step. But should you worry?
After almost two years of learning to live with the virus, care homes are among the safest places you can be. Anybody who isn’t fully vaccinated is not permitted into our homes, this includes staff, tradespeople and even delivery drivers.
We are also inspected by the Care Quality Commission and local councils and must demonstrate that we have robust infection prevention and control measures in place.
There are other reasons why you could benefit from moving into a care home. Isolation and loneliness increased during the pandemic. In a care home you always have company and the opportunity to take part in a pre planned activities programme including bus trips to local beauty spots or local tea rooms.
You also get three nourishing meals every day freshly prepared for. Your medications are taken care of, and there are always trained staff on hand to look after you 24 hours a day.
Moving Into a Care Home – Practical Steps
So, if moving into a care home sounds like a more reassuring and appealing prospect, what should you do next?
Always do your research. We try to offer as much information as possible to help people decide whether an Altogether Care home is the right choice for them.
Booking a short stay is a good way to sample life in one of our homes. This can also give family members who’ve been helping to care for you a bit of a break. However much information you have about life in a care home, there’s no substitute for trying it out and seeing whether it feels right – and whether moving into a care home is something you’re ready to do.
Once you’ve selected a care home, decide which clothes and other personal possessions you want to take with you. We encourage our residents to bring pictures, ornaments and items of furniture with them so that your room feels like home.
If you have any questions about moving into a care home or would like to arrange a visit to take a look around and see what life might be like, just get in touch on 01305 300 161 or email email@example.com.
Our entire life seems to be made up of things we love doing and other ‘necessary’ stuff that isn’t much fun – like housework, shopping, mowing the lawn and house maintenance.
As you get older, time becomes more significant and precious. How good would it feel to get rid of all the chores and tedious features of everyday life? What would it be like to spend that time on something more enjoyable and worthwhile?
This is what assisted living is all about; keep the bits of life that give you the most pleasure and satisfaction – and get rid of the rest.
The ‘best bits’ are different for everyone. It might be a walk in the country, a day out, learning a new skill such as drawing or painting, trying out new activities, or just time spent in good company.
The first step is to find a way to make time. You’ll then have little problem finding ways to use it.
Assisted Living at Steepleton Manor
Assisted living and time well spent are very much the themes of life at Steepleton Manor – our Grade II listed retirement home in Dorset. We take care of all the routine tasks while our clients concentrate on how to take advantage of the wealth of leisure facilities and varied activities available.
There are impressive and extensive grounds, a croquet lawn and kitchen garden offering opportunities to enjoy an active lifestyle. There’s also a library, shop, conservatory and spacious communal areas where people socialise and relax. We also have regular bus trips out in our modern mini bus to local beauty spots or to local tea rooms.
Assisted living is also about keeping your independence. We have en-suite rooms and suites with a separate living room and kitchenette. There’s plenty of choice over how you prefer to live.
So, if you’re thinking seriously about how you want to spend your time after retirement, it’s worth considering assisted living. And at Steepleton Manor, you’ll be able to spend your days in luxurious surroundings in a stunning country manor house.
The social care sector has plenty of opportunities for anyone searching for a new career. And if you’re new to the sector you might think that one care company is much like another. The truth is, they’re not.
Some care companies specialise in specific types of care – such as residential, nursing or care at home services. Some are small or medium sized family-run businesses and some are corporate entities owned by investment companies.
What should matter most is what each company will be like to work for. How will you be treated and what opportunities will you have to learn new skills and develop your career?
Care is both a demanding and rewarding career. It comes with lots of responsibility and the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives. There are plenty of opportunities to develop your career in different directions. This could be into specialist areas of care such as dementia, or into supervision and management.
If you have the aptitude and enthusiasm, the chances are that you’ll have a choice of care organisations you could work for. So choose carefully.
Questions You Should Ask
Take a close look at the care provider’s track record – Do staff tend to stay with them for long periods of time?
You should also investigate their training and development policy; Do they look to do the bare minimum to comply with regulations or does every staff member have a training and development plan that helps them build new skills and progress their career?
The Indeed company rating will tell you a lot about how people find the experience of working there. The rating for Altogether Care is 4.3, which is exceptionally high and something we’re really proud of.
You should also ask about opportunities for career progression. Over 75% of our management team has been promoted from within the company. This is largely down to the fact that Altogether Care is a family owned and run business that treats the team as an extended family.
We are currently recruiting for care assistants across Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. If you think a career in care is for you, check out our current opportunities at https://altogethercare.co.uk/careers/ or contact us on 01305 230 488 and let’s talk about your future in care.
As we get older, tasks that we used to take in our stride start to become a bit harder. This is a normal feature of the ageing process. With things like DIY, home improvements and decorating it seems easy and normal to accept that there are jobs we used to do ourselves that we now pay somebody to do for us.
When it comes to personal care sometimes we’re a bit more reluctant to accept that we need help. There are many reasons for this. If you have an elderly relative who is adamant that they ‘can cope just fine, thank you very much,’ even when you can plainly see they can’t, it’s quite normal.
If you see it from their perspective it can feel a bit like giving in. Ageing and a decline in physical (or mental) capacity can be a hard thing to accept. Hiring a carer, even for just a few hours a week, can feel like giving up your independence. It can even feel like one step closer to leaving your own home and going into residential care.
But there’s no reason why older people should have to struggle with everyday tasks. A care at home service can make a huge difference to their quality of life. Getting a relative to accept the help they need often depends on how you handle the discussion.
Introduce the Idea Gently
Going in with both feet and expecting somebody to instantly accept that they need a care at home service will probably be counterproductive. They are more likely to dig their heels in.
It’s a good idea to introduce the idea gradually and maybe steer clear of terms like care service. Perhaps have a more general conversation about how they see the future. Talk about the possibility of getting somebody to help around the house rather than a carer. Give them time to get used to the idea.
Focus on the positives and talk about more enjoyable ways that they could spend their time rather than on doing things that are a struggle.
Don’t Take Over
Exasperation is a normal reaction when somebody refuses to accept help. But ultimately it’s their decision – unless social services decide that they are incapable of caring for themselves. You can’t decide for them and shouldn’t try to. Concentrate on being supportive and making sure that they feel they are in control.
If you have any questions about the best way to broach the subject of getting support from a care at home service, the team at Altogether Care will be happy to answer them. Please visit https://altogethercare.co.uk/care-at-home/ or call 01305 300 161 for more details.
How many people can say that what they did at work today made a real difference to somebody? And how many people are lucky enough to be certain that the sector they work in has almost guaranteed long-term employment and career development opportunities?
In many walks of life, employment is precarious and unsatisfying. But it isn’t in the care sector and definitely isn’t with Altogether Care.
Not only do you get job security and satisfaction, you get the chance to work with great colleagues and meet fascinating people with diverse backgrounds every day.
Starting Your Care Career – Support and Development
If you haven’t worked in care before, don’t worry about being thrown in at the deep end. You’ll get a thorough induction, job-specific training and support from more experienced colleagues to help you settle into your new career.
You’ll also get regular reviews and one-to-one supervisions that will help you develop your career and your confidence.
Development and Career Pathways
Through formal qualifications and professional training, there are many opportunities to develop a successful career in care. This could be by specialising in particular areas such as dementia care or by enhancing your supervisory or management skills to move into a leadership role.
Whichever way you’d like your career to grow, the leadership team at Altogether Care will be here to help and support you.
We can offer you attractive hourly rates, full-time permanent contracts, free professional training, and a great range of staff benefits.
The staff benefits scheme also includes:
Retail discount vouchers
Discounted holidays and travel insurance
Various leisure and restaurant vouchers
A hospital plan
If you’re looking for a job with security, opportunity and the chance to make a real difference to people’s lives, we have what you’re looking for.
One result of the Covid pandemic is that many older people find it harder to cope with everyday life and may need care for the first time. This might be because they caught the virus and are making a slow recovery, or because the extended lockdowns affected their physical and mental wellbeing.
Research by Age UK found that people with dementia often found that their condition deteriorated because of reduced social contact and activity. Many others are struggling with basic tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and personal hygiene.
People who were able to live independently before the pandemic are now discovering that they have a care need. For many this is the first look into the complex world of care funding as they try to find out whether they can get help to pay for their care or will have to cover the cost for themselves.
If you have less than £23,250 in savings it’s possible that your local council will cover some of the cost. If you have more than this saved you will have to pay for your care.
In some circumstances you may be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare. The rules for this are not clear cut but if you have an ongoing physical or mental health condition it’s an option worth exploring as the NHS will cover the cost of your care.
Care Needs Assessment
The first step is usually to get a care needs assessment from your local council. You can arrange this through your GP or by contacting social services. A care needs assessment is free and anyone can ask for one. If you need care the council will carry out a means test to check whether you’re eligible for funding.
A lot of councils have a backlog of care needs assessments at the moment so there could be a delay. Some people are choosing to contact a care provider directly if they don’t think there’s a realistic chance of the council paying for their care.
The financial assessment looks at the following:
benefits (including Attendance Allowance or PIP)
property (including overseas property)
If you receive care in your own home the value of your property will not be included in the assessment. It will be included for residential care unless you have a spouse, civil partner or dependant relative still living in the home.
Financial assessments should be repeated annually as your savings may have dropped to the level where you will become eligible. A word of caution: giving money away or hiding assets to avoid paying for care won’t work.
If you qualify for care funding you will be given a personal budget. You can opt to arrange your own care and receive your budget as a monthly payment into your bank account (you will need to keep receipts to prove you are spending it on care services). Alternatively, the council can organise and pay for your care on your behalf and send you a regular bill for your contribution.
If you are fully self-funding the council may still help you find a suitable care provider. Or you can simply choose for yourself and not involve the council.
If you have any questions about what type of care would suit you best and how to pay for it the team at Altogether Care will be happy to help. Contact us on 01305 206 140 to find out more.
Covid-19 has been life-changing for many older people, including those who didn’t contract the virus. Lockdown was a difficult experience. As a result many older people feel more isolated, less confident about going out or socialising and often less physically able.
The mental and physical wellbeing of many people has been badly affected. But – and this is the important bit – this can be reversed. There’s no reason why the majority of older people shouldn’t get back to enjoying active and fulfilling lives with a bit of help and support.
Here are some basic guidelines that will help you regain your confidence to live life a little more normally. There’s plenty more information available online but the first step is to tell yourself ‘I’m going to do this.’
Start By Eating Well
Many older people report feeling less able to prepare their own meals as a result of lockdown. So they don’t eat regularly. Or they eat less healthy foods that don’t take much effort and have comforting extra calories.
First point: don’t beat yourself up about this if it sounds like you. It’s a fairly normal reaction in a time of anxiety and you’re not alone. But also tell yourself: ‘that was then, this is now. I’m focused on the future.’
Mental and physical wellbeing starts with good nutrition. A balanced diet makes sure that we have the vitamins and minerals our bodies and minds need to function properly. We also need energy to gradually take more exercise and help our bones and muscles get back to normal. If we feel well because we are eating well we’re also less likely to feel anxiety.
It might be worth considering using a care at home service for a while just to help with meal preparation. The aim of this would be to help you get back to the stage where you are ready to take on the task of making healthy meals for yourself.
Research by Age UK also found that 41% of the people they surveyed were finding it harder to clean and tidy their home. This is another area where a care at home service can help.
Confidence is largely about feeling we have the strength and mobility to go out and do things without getting into problems or falling over. Getting back to normal levels of mobility may take a while but the most important thing is to start.
Aim to walk as far as you can, as quickly as you can. At first this might be to the end of the street or even just around the house. That’s fine. Start with whatever you can manage and then gradually build it up. There are plenty of items around the house such as tins of beans or bags of flour that you can use as improvised weights to rebuild muscle strength.
The knowledge that older people are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19 made many anxious about going out – even for a short walk.
The good news is that for double vaccinated people, the risk of becoming seriously ill appears to be low. As you improve your nutrition and fitness your risk will fall even further.
The best advice seems to be to take things slowly at first and gradually build up your confidence. Again, the important thing is to get started and progressively push your limits. Outings with a friend, family member or carer are a helpful way to become accustomed to being out and about, while knowing that there’s somebody to keep an eye on you.
If you’re concerned about an elderly relative whose confidence and wellbeing have been affected by the lockdown, Altogether Care will be happy to offer advice. We may also be able to arrange a temporary care at home support package. To find out more about the services at Altogether Care, contact 01305 206 140.
The highly successful NHS vaccine programme along with the arrival of summer weather spells great news for care home residents and staff. The easing in lockdown restrictions has meant residents have started to enjoy their weekly outings and seeing loved ones again.
Within certain limits, friends and family can make visits to our care homes. Our clients can also get out to have a much-appreciated change of scenery. The pandemic showed just how much we take for granted the simple everyday pleasures that make such a difference to our lives. For residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s, restoring regular personal contact with family members is particularly important.
Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll obviously be keeping a close eye on local infection rates and the emergence of Covid-19 variants. We’re hoping that we’re on the road to a complete return to normal with unrestricted visitor numbers and times (as of May 17, up to five people could be nominated as visitors, with a maximum of two at a time). We’re also looking forward eventually to no face masks or social distancing and no need for regular testing.
But the team is also ready to act swiftly if needed and do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe. We have an outbreak management plan prepared, just in case.
Perhaps everything won’t go fully back to as it was before Covid. Like many care home providers across the country, we’re looking at some of the measures introduced over that last year and deciding what, if anything, we should retain.
As you’d expect, our infection control measures were always rigorous. But now that regular hand sanitising – particularly when people enter our care homes – has become a routine, it seems sensible to keep doing it.
Many of our residents have become much more used to using technology and video calls to keep in touch with friends and family. This is certain to continue between visits and could be a positive legacy of the awful virus.
After a difficult year and a bit, the news is looking better. Hopefully, before too long it really will be back to normal.
We are delighted to welcome back our weekly pub lunches for residents, where we take residents out to enjoy their favourite meal in a local pub. Today marks the first pub lunch in a long time as three of our residents left in high spirits to enjoy their meal in the sunshine.
Our twice-weekly bus trips will commence again next week, whether it’s to enjoy a day at the seaside, visit a local attraction, or do some shopping with a friend or family member.
Sherborne House: Nothing Beats Home-Grown
The fantastic weather has meant the residents’ vegetables in the gardens are all growing well. Since nutrition and diet is such an important part of wellbeing, it’s great to see that residents can begin to enjoy their very own home-grown vegetables fresh from the gardens. On the menu will be lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, leeks and many more.
What better way to welcome new arrivals to the team than with a party. Sherborne House staff got to enjoy a party with food and soft drinks to welcome new staff from overseas. We are pleased that our new staff members are settling in well.
It’s always astonishing to see just how far technology has come. Residents got to enjoy some 1970s memorabilia, being shown old tv detectors, old police cars, old telephones and bicycles.
Most people can see and appreciate the extraordinary pressures placed on NHS and care staff throughout the pandemic and can recognise the contribution they have made. But there’s another group of people whose efforts, and the strains placed upon them, have been less well publicised and may be hidden from view.
The small army of informal caregivers have always tended to be the unsung heroes. Usually, they help to care for a family member so they can continue living in their own home. Their efforts tend to go unnoticed by people outside of their social group or those who are not part of the care system. The reality is that social care in the UK couldn’t function without them.
And over the last 15 months of social distancing and with placements for new residents being slowed down, informal caregivers have been called on to do even more. There’s no doubt that this will have placed enormous strain on some individuals.
Taking Care of Yourself is Also Important
Perhaps now is the time for caregivers to give themselves a break. This isn’t a case of rewarding yourself. It’s more about taking care of your own health and wellbeing after a very difficult time.
If you’re looking after an elderly relative who has been fully vaccinated, their risk of infection and illness is extremely low. They can very safely book a short period of respite care so that you have the opportunity to take a break and recharge your energy levels.
Perhaps it’s also worth thinking about regular support from a care at home or day care service. These services offer help with everyday health or personal care and could make caring for a loved one much more manageable. Just a few hours each week could help share the workload and give you a little more free time.
With May 2021 being Stroke Awareness Month, the Beaminster Care at Home team decided to host a bake sale to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of a stroke and what to do in the event of a stroke. A huge effort was put in by the Beaminster team as they kindly made some delicious cakes for locals to enjoy.
The Beaminster community was very supportive to the cause and it was lovely to hear from the locals. It was also fantastic to have such great support from local businesses who helped raise awareness about the bake sale.
We’d like to thank the locals for their support on the day and for sharing their stories with us. The Beaminster Care at Home team managed to raise a total of £240 for the charity.
For information on our Care at Home services, click here. You can also view a range of useful materials about health and wellbeing in later life by signing up to our free resource centre here.
A person’s care needs change over time. This could be down to the ageing process and a gradual loss of physical or mental capabilities, or it could be a temporary situation caused by illness or an accident.
As care needs change, the top priority for most people is to maintain as much independence as possible. The route to achieving this is through flexibility. For a care provider like Altogether Care, this means more than simply offering a full range of care services. Most importantly, it means listening, understanding and working with you to design a care package that meets your needs and can easily adapt as those needs change.
Independence can have many meanings – so it’s important to be clear what we’re talking about. At its heart it means that you are the one making the decisions. And that you continue doing as much as you are able to for yourself. The organisation providing your care services is there to help you achieve your goals – not to decide what’s best for you.
When somebody is struggling with a task there’s a big difference between saying ‘we’ll do that for you’ and ‘which bits of that task do you find most difficult and can we help?’
Staying In Your Own Home
Independence for many people means staying in their own home for as long as possible. The flexibility that makes this possible includes care services that range from simple help with daily tasks, to regular nursing care visits up to full-time live-in care. If adaptations are needed to make your home easier to live in the choices about any changes are still yours.
If you decide that residential care is the most suitable option this doesn’t mean surrendering your independence. Residents in our care homes are encouraged to do as much as possible for themselves and continue to decide what care support they need and how they want to spend their time.
The approach to flexibility at Altogether Care is about much more than the range of services we offer – it’s about our approach to your individual needs and choices. This ensures that maintaining your independence is always a priority.
When somebody is told that they have dementia, it will trigger all sorts of thoughts and emotions. Responses can be a mix of shock, sadness, fear and sometimes even relief that there’s an explanation for some of the changes they have experienced.
The inevitable question is, ‘what next?’. Living with dementia changes your life, whether you are the person with the diagnosis, a loved one or a carer. There are practical issues to consider as well as those related to care and emotional wellbeing. A carer’s life can be stressful and challenging, so it’s best to be prepared.
Dementia inevitably changes close personal relationships. It helps to talk openly about what this will mean for everyone concerned. If your spouse or partner is diagnosed with dementia, it will mean a huge adjustment for both of you. Inevitably, your main concern will be for your partner but don’t forget that you will also be affected and that you need to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing.
You may be able to find training and local support groups to help you in your role as a caregiver. Support and online discussion groups – such as the Alzheimer’s Society Talking Point – are also available to help your loved one cope with the adjustment.
Above all, it will take time for your loved one to adjust to the diagnosis. You could suggest counselling, perhaps at a memory clinic, which can be a big help. Charities such as Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK provide services that may also help. These include helplines, support groups, day centres, shopping services and home care.
A diagnosis brings an entitlement to a care and support needs assessment from your local council. You can arrange this by contacting social services or through your GP, consultant or other health service professional.
If you care for someone, you can have an assessment to see what help could make your life easier. The types of help you could get include:
Respite care so you can take a break
Training in how to lift safely
Help with housework and shopping
Access to local support groups
This is definitely the time to look after your health and that of your loved one – including regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet. If your loved one is feeling depressed after their diagnosis they may need plenty of encouragement and cajoling to take good care of themselves.
There are inevitably some practical issues to plan for. Here are the main things to consider:
Register as a carer with your GP.
Make sure that your loved one has an up-to-date will and has assigned lasting powers of attorney for when they are no longer able to make financial or healthcare decisions for themselves.
Claim any benefits that you are entitled to. These could include a Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. As a carer you may be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance.
Make sure that papers relating to your loved one’s bank accounts, mortgage or rental documents, insurance policies, tax and pension details, bills and guarantees are in order and easy to find.
Think about advance care planning so that your loved one’s wishes for their ongoing care are written down.
At some stage in the future, it’s likely that care support will be needed – either care at home or residential and nursing care. Contacting a care provider such as Altogether Care will help you understand the options available and how your loved one’s needs might change in the future.
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.’
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.
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.”
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.”
Why do some people love their job and so many others seem to hate it? If you’re considering a career in social care this an important question. For one thing, you’re probably not short of choices as many care companies are recruiting.
People tend to like their jobs when their personal values are in tune with the values of their employer. If you’re considering care as a career it’s probably because you value things other than money.
Altogether Care is a family run business that has been running homes and delivering services for over 30 years. We started a care business because we have a strong sense of how care should be delivered, with the people who use the service at the centre of all decisions. That is still the principle that drives us. Trust, respect, positivity, compassion and safety are our core values. These values reflect the way we treat our clients and the way we treat each other.
People who are happy in their jobs tend to feel a sense of belonging. They also like the people they work with. This is a big part of the experience at Altogether Care. We try hard to make it feel like one big family. People enjoy working for us.
As well as a supportive working environment and help to develop your skills and career, Altogether Care staff enjoy a range of additional benefits. These include:
Child care vouchers
Discounted holidays and travel insurance
Various leisure and restaurant vouchers
A hospital plan
Blue Light Card – a discount card exclusively for armed forces, emergency, NHS and care staff.
Altogether Care is also a government-accredited organisation licensed as a sponsoring employer for overseas professionals seeking to work in the UK.