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Weymouth Care Home Residents and Staff Sea Life Centre Sensory Day

Resident’s and Staff at our Weymouth Care Home recently went out to the Weymouth Sea life Centre for their Sensory Day.

They loved seeing all the variety of sea creatures, such as the seals and being in the underwater tunnel where they could see sharks, sting rays, turtles and more. They thoroughly enjoyed choosing their own gifts from the gift shop. The residents and staff cannot wait to do this again soon.

The purpose of our Sea Life sensory day was so that everyone could experience not only a different environment, but different senses such as: sounds (running water, noises from penguins, music), smells (the penguin enclosure, the smell of the food that was there), sight (different sea creatures, bubbles, lights).

Each week our sensory days look at different things which affect different senses. Previous sensory days focusing on touch at Weymouth Care Home have included orbeeze and slime. For sound we have used instruments, and for sight we have used sensory lights. We also use our magic table if they are doing a bubble pop game, we also have our bubble machine on and music in the background.

Sensory days are incredibly important for those who need activities adapted, or who struggle to partake in group activities as it helps keep their brains stimulated, it gives them new opportunities to experience their senses.

We have found that by doing sensory days it has had a positive impact on all residents who have taken part, and it’s nice doing activities that all abilities can partake in.

Start a Career Where Your Work is Appreciated

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people came to appreciate how important key workers are to our society. Emergency services, health and care workers and the armed forces were all there to help when the nation needed it most.

Many organisations are keen to show their appreciation for key workers and have joined the Blue Light Card scheme to offer discounts on shopping, meals out and attractions.

One of the perks of a career with Altogether Care is that you qualify for a Blue Light Card. This gives you access to over 15,000 discounts, both locally and online.

With your card you can enjoy every day discounts when you: go to the cinema, eat out at numerous participating restaurants, buy a mobile phone, shop from famous brands, book a holiday, go to a theme park or just queue up for your coffee. The list of participating companies reads like Who’s Who of famous retail and leisure brands. 

Work With People Who Enjoy What They Do

Blue Light Card discounts come on top of many other advantages of working for Altogether Care. First of all, we’re a happy crew. You’ll get to work every day with a team of people who enjoy what they do and take great pride in their work. That has to be better than being surrounded by long faces waiting for the hands of the clock to tick round.

The clients you work with are also an incredible group of people. They all have a story to tell and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing what a difference you make to their lives every day.

Your work in the care sector will be appreciated in so many ways. The discounts offered through the Blue Light Card is just one of them.

If you’d like to have a discussion to find out more about working in the care sector, contact Altogether Care on 01305 230488 or email careers@altogethercare.co.uk, or check out our current vacancies.

What You Need to Know If You’ve Never Had To Think About Care Funding Before

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:

  • earnings
  • pensions
  • benefits (including Attendance Allowance or PIP)
  • savings
  • 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.

Personal Budgets

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.

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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.

CARE AT HOME COSTS

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.

FLEXIBILITY OF CARE IN LATER 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.” 

WEYMOUTH CARE HOME

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.”

CHOOSING A CARE HOME CONSIDERATIONS

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

To Find the Right Job, First Find the Right Employer

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.

If all of this sounds like the type of place you’d like to work take a look at our latest vacancies and then get in touch on 01305 230488 or email careers@altogethercare.co.uk for more information.

Nothing Stops the Christmas Fun at Altogether Care

So this Christmas isn’t going to be quite like other years – but that doesn’t mean our residents can’t still have a great time. For staff and residents at our care homes the festive season is in full swing.

Trees and decorations also went up at the start of December (but this year with a bit more thought to allow our staff to still clean effectively), accompanied by mince pies and a tipple for our residents.

Throughout the month, we’ll be marking notable days with appropriate events. These include Elf Day on December 4, National Brownie Day (who doesn’t love a brownie?) and even National Gazpacho Day (who knew there was such a thing?).

Some of the December events have a more serious side, including International Animal Rights Day that remembers animal victims of human cruelty, including war horses.

Christmas apparel features in many of the festivities with Christmas jumpers being donned for December 11 and a colourful array of hats on the 18th. And let’s not forget National Sangria Day on the 20th and Eggnog Day on Christmas Eve.

Christmas at Sherborne House

December is a busy month at Sherborne House with plenty to keep residents occupied and in the festive spirit. As well as the annual Christmas party, residents have been making decorations and baubles for the ‘wish tree,’ baking Christmas biscuits and decorating some scrumptious gingerbread men. There’s a small festival of Christmas movies to watch and regular communal signing of seasonal songs.

The care at home team has also been joining in the fun with the Poole office sporting elf costumes and Christmas jumpers to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research. Please contribute if you are able via our JustGiving page.

While 2020 may have been a difficult year for care homes and their residents, the Altogether Care team has been determined to make sure that the wellbeing and enjoyment of our residents has been affected as little as possible. And as the year draws to a close, Christmas remains a very special time and something to celebrate.

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

Living Well: Dementia Care During COVID-19

Contrary to many misconceptions, most people with dementia continue to live fulfilled and enjoyable lives, which is the very aim of what we do at Altogether Care. Our Dementia care is supportive, respectful and encouraging – never patronising.

But what about Dementia care during COVID-19? 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for many people, let alone with the added concerns about whether you or your loved one will get the care they need during such unpredictable times. That’s why we’re devoted in delivery high quality care, with the least disruption as possible during the pandemic.

Family Support

Dementia care means supporting families as well as individuals. It can be an upsetting time for family members as the condition progresses. And there are also likely to be many concerns surrounding how you will get to see or speak to your loved one during current circumstances.

We understand it is an incredibly difficult time during the lockdown and with visiting restrictions at our care homes. That’s why we’re dedicated to ensuring residents have access to virtual calls via Skype. We are also enabling indoor visiting for loved ones needing a compassionate visit for residents whose passing is imminent at the end of life, which we understand is so vitally important.

We also regularly update our visitation policy here.

VISITATION POLICY

Activity and Therapy

Keeping active is vital for anyone with dementia. Sherborne House is in the final stages of refurbishment work that will help us deliver the highest standards of physical, emotional and mental care. Residents benefit from therapies including physiotherapy, speech therapy and chiropody and can take part in many stimulating activities. That means there is always something for residents to be doing when they are finding being away from their families particularly difficult. Keeping active and stimulating the mind is also known to reduce stress and anxiety, improving overall wellbeing.

The other critical aspect of effective dementia care is a healthy diet. Meals at Sherborne House are supplied by Apetito. They specialise in providing chef-prepared meals that are made from fresh ingredients and are nutritionally balanced to suit care home residents. There is no disruption to this meals service in any of our care homes.

Having dementia or being in care are not things that define a person. Dementia care with Altogether Care is there to support individuals and their families to get on and enjoy life as much as possible. Contact us on 01935 423 210 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

How Much Will It Cost to Have the Care At Home Service You Need?

The fact that you need some help with day-to-day tasks doesn’t mean that it’s time to move to residential care or give up your home and independent way of life. A care at home service often offers the best of both worlds.

Help is available during pre-arranged home visits at times you choose. Life can be made more manageable while you continue to enjoy the familiarity and security of your own surroundings. You can opt for a care service that helps meet a wide range of needs, from picking up prescriptions, shopping and preparing meals, through to help with personal hygiene or nursing care and medication.

What Care Do You Need?

Everyone is different and so are their care needs, which is why the first step is usually to arrange a care needs assessment with your local council. It might be that you will only need care for a limited period of time, such as recovering from illness or a hospital visit. Or it may be that you need something longer-term that will make day-to-day life more manageable.

Depending on your income and assets, it’s likely that you will have to pay for some or all of your care. The question of how much the care will cost then becomes very important. The care at home packages provided by Altogether Care are based on individual needs and are highly flexible. The costs are based on each client’s specific care package and are explained and discussed with each individual in advance.

To make it easier to understand how much your care is likely to cost, we’ve created a care cost calculator. This is an easy to use online tool that takes you step-by-step through your options looking at the types of care you want to receive. At the end of the process you will receive an accurate estimate of the cost of your care at home package. This will help you make better-informed decisions when it comes to planning your care.

Try the Care Cost Calculator

For more information, contact us on 01305 300 161.

Digital Technology in Care is Here to Stay

Across the UK economy, organisations changed how they do things because of COVID-19. Digital tools were often the only way to keep working. What the experience also revealed is that digital tools often offer better ways of working that will be retained after the pandemic.

This is certainly the case with care services. Altogether Care had already made significant investments in technology to improve the way that we plan and deliver care. With COVID-19 restrictions in place we had to take this up a notch.

Our residents have obviously missed having visits from family and friends. Thankfully, these days we have digital technology such as Skype and Facetime, which help people stay in touch. And now that people are used to using them, contact isn’t governed by specified visiting times, durations and distances. There are more opportunities for meaningful ‘face-to-face’ contact between physical visits.

Training and Communication

No care provider can ever afford to stop training its staff, pandemic or no pandemic. In our case this meant switching to more online training because face-to-face training courses couldn’t run. And guess what – the training is generally just as effective and far easier to arrange around busy staff schedules.

In some ways, communication with suppliers, staff, residents and visitors has improved. Digital has certainly made it more efficient and convenient. Across the country there must be countless organisations questioning just how much valuable time we used to waste by travelling around to have conversations that we could have had online with little or no loss of interaction.

Zoom has been a revelation when it comes to communicating with staff spread across multiple care homes and offices. It’s now a firmly established feature of how we do things.

Person-centered Care

As a care provider, what counts most of all is how well we look after people and meet their needs. There’s no doubt that digital technology helps here too. It makes care planning more efficient and it’s easier to involve our clients and their families in the process. Digital tools also simplify how we share care plans and other information and make sure that everyone gets the care they need.

COVID-19 accelerated a digital journey Altogether Care was already on. Having seen the benefits, we’re not planning to turn back. Our business is caring for people and digital tools help us to do that more effectively.

To find out more about our care services, contact us on 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

What Can You Expect From Live-In Care?

Live-in care is probably the least well understood aspect of care. It’s certainly less common than residential or nursing care, or care at home. But there are many people for whom it could be the right choice.

It’s particularly suited to individuals with age-related support needs, physical disabilities, sensory loss (including dual sensory impairment), mental health problems, and learning disabilities. Live-in care also provides support for personal or family carers.

The important difference between live-in care and other types of care is that your carer lives with you in your own home. They are there to help with personal or medical care as well as tasks such as shopping and outings. They are also there to offer companionship.

What to Expect

As will all of the services we deliver at Altogether Care, everything is based on our core values. These are:

  • People focus
  • Delivering care excellence
  • Personal welfare
  • Flexible care
  • Quality services
  • Quality people

The care received is based on a personalised care plan. Care needs are broadly categorized as Standard, Premium, Diamond, and Night Cover. In every case, the precise care plan is driven by your individual needs.

Level 1 would apply if your main requirement is for companionship and general support to live independently.

Level 2 offers greater assistance with daily living such as bathing, dressing, or help with mild physical disability or dementia.

Level 3 provides support for people suffering from a significant physical disability, dementia or other medical conditions that require sensitive and more intensive life care.

Night Cover provides sleeping and waking care or night cover care depending on your needs.

Your personalised plan is based on your care assessment set out by your local council. It will also include any other services you wish to have to help you live as independently as possible in your own home.

If you think that you or a relative could benefit from live-in care, get in touch on 01202 894 925 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Care At Home, Coronavirus and the Future

A woman in 1971 would have expected to live to the age of around 77. For a man, life expectancy was a little over 71. By 2017, the life expectancy for women had risen to over 83 and for men it was just under 80.

The increase in life expectancy has been driven by better healthcare, a reduction in smoking, improved health and safety in workplaces, more plentiful and varied food and improved amenities. And as, on average, we are all getting a few more years post-retirement, it’s important to make the most of them.

Maintaining independence is an important feature of the quality of life for many people in their later years. Usually, this means that individuals will want to remain in their own homes wherever possible. In many cases, people living in the own homes during their later years are fully mentally capable and can, for the most part, take care of themselves. If, in your case, you’re not as mobile as you used to be, a few things may become a bit more difficult. But that’s no reason to give up your independence.

Care at home is increasingly popular because it gives people choice and flexibility. They agree with their care provider what type of help they need and how often. They have a care plan that is their care plan, not something that somebody decides for them. And most of all, they are in familiar surroundings in a community they know.

How Has Covid-19 Changed Things?

The pandemic increased the demand for care at home services. This is partly because care homes were sometimes unable to admit new residents and partly because some people recovering from the virus face a long process of recuperation. It was also harder in many cases for family members and informal caregivers to help out because of guidance about isolating and social distancing.

A great deal of the burden of coping with Covid-19 fell on the care sector and we’re proud of the way our team rose to the challenge. The value and benefits that care at home services deliver became much more obvious to the general population.

It was a difficult time but we pulled through. We’re now focused firmly on the future and how we can bring independence and quality of life to even more people in their later years.

Contact 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information.

Could Live-In Care Be Right For You?

For many people, the first type of care they need is care at home. In a lot of cases it’s all they’ll ever need as they are able to carry on living independently with a bit of help.

In other cases, the amount of care and support a person needs increases. Eventually it reaches the point where once or twice daily visits from a carer are not enough. It’s then time to make a decision about the next step.

There are several signs that the type of care needs to be reviewed. These could include an increasing number of memory lapses and near misses such as cookers or electrical appliances being left on, or increasing frailty and finding daily living too much of a struggle.

The first thing that probably comes to mind is residential care; but it’s far from your only option. For some people who receive later-life care the overriding priority is to stay in their own home for as long as possible. That’s where friends, family social activities and memories are.

Live-in care makes it possible to continue living in your own home even when you have significant care needs. Often, it’s less of an upheaval than moving into a care home.

What Does Live-In Care Mean?

In simple terms, it means being able to stay in your home (a place you feel emotionally attached to) without being alone or having to fend for yourself. Your carer lives with you so they are always on hand to help you look after yourself, deliver personal or medical care and keep an eye out for your wellbeing and safety.

They can help you with domestic chores, shopping and trips out when you need them. But as well as the practical help you have companionship and security, and the peace of mind that you are not on your own. If you would like to know more about our live-in care service call us and arrange an appointment. We’ll be happy to talk you through your options and find the care service that works best for you.

Contact 01202 894 925 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information.

We’ve Just Seen Why Effective Healthcare Relies on Effective Social Care

The last few months have highlighted a few facts about our social care system. First, just how essential it is. Unless they are users of the care system or have a relative in care, most people probably don’t give social care much of a thought (other than as a service they might need sometime in the future).

Care workers and care providers haven’t been given the same recognition and credibility as staff working in the NHS. But COVID-19 threw a spotlight on the work the care system does. It highlighted just how interconnected health and care services are when it comes to meeting the needs of an ageing population.

Users want the care system and the provision they receive to be seamless. It’s pretty irrelevant to them whether they are in a health or a care setting. They just want to be reassured that their needs are being looked after.

Shared Goals

The NHS and the care sector have the same goals: caring for those in need in the best way possible. Completely integrated care allows people to move between settings without feeling that they are being transferred from one service to another. To achieve this, the status of the care sector and care workers has to be addressed.

During the peak of the pandemic, the care sector kept going in very difficult circumstances. The fact that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed owed much to the contribution of care providers. We have worked closely with local authorities and CCG’s throughout and continue to do so, in responding to the rapidly increasing demand for care as people went back home.

Many providers invested significantly in training, procedures and equipment – ensuring that infection control measures were in place and to make the risks as minimal as possible. Altogether Care made sure that any new residents coming into the care home were tested negative for COVID-19 from the beginning of the crisis and are continuing to ensure that new residents take tests, only accepting individuals who test negative.

The future will bring further challenges. There’s a very real risk of a second wave of COVID-19 infections this winter. We also have an ageing population and a service that is still underfunded and suffering from severe staff shortages. Brexit will not make the situation any easier.

The vital work carried out by the care sector is now prominent in the media and in the minds of politicians and the public. This is the time to address long-standing issues around integration of health and care services, funding, and the esteem of care workers compared to NHS staff. Ultimately, we are all working towards the same goals.

For more information, contact us today on 01305 300161 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk

Flexibility in Care: Later Life Care is a Journey, Not an Event

People often talk about ‘going into care’ or ‘receiving care’ as though these are single events or destinations. The reality is that everyone’s care journey is unique. At different times, an individual might need more or less care, or different types of care.

Care is sometimes needed for a short period to help somebody recover from illness or an operation. Often, it’s a progressive journey where needs gradually change with increasing levels of dependency.

Nobody can really predict how an individual’s care needs are likely to evolve, or at what rate. As a care provider an important part of what we do is to continually assess the support that our clients need and to adjust their care plans to suit. In most cases a formal annual review of the care plan is enough but sometimes it needs to be more frequent or is triggered by an event such as illness.

Flexibility is essential so that we can achieve the right balance between care support, wellbeing and maintaining independence. A good quality of life is every bit as important as looking after personal and healthcare needs.

Anticipating Change

Part of the process is to anticipate changes, particularly where care needs are likely to increase over time. This relies on getting to know clients really well. We can then build trust by demonstrating to clients and their families that decisions are always made in their best interests and reflect their wishes.

This relationship is critical in making the care planning process work effectively, in a way that consistently meets clients’ needs.

One helpful consideration when choosing a care provider is to think about how needs may change over time. Because relationships are important, it can be useful to look at the range of services the provider offers should they be needed in future.

Altogether Care is able to respond to changes in the level of dependency over time. All staff are well trained to manage any increase in requirements, including moving and handling, care planning and dementia awareness.

Our services range from help with personal care in your own home, through to nursing care to assist with dementia, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, strokes and much more. As needs change, we can support our clients through each stage of their care journey. They have the reassurance that they are always dealing with a team of people who understand them as individuals and can respond to whatever challenges arise.

To talk through our our services with a member of our team, contact us today on 01305 300161 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

How Complementary Therapies Help to Manage Dementia Symptoms

Medical treatments to prevent or reverse the various causes of dementia are still some way off. And while medications and lifestyle changes can help slow the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, there is currently no cure. But there’s still plenty we can do to help reduce the impact that dementia has on people’s lives.

We’ve seen first-hand how various therapies can help people with dementia cope better and stay more positive and engaged. Although research is limited, there is scientific evidence that backs up what we’ve observed through supporting our care home residents.

Art and music therapy are regular features in the monthly activity programmes at Sherborne House, which specialises in Dementia care. Not only are these activities beneficial for self-esteem and wellbeing, but they encourage our residents to interact socially in a joyful, creative environment.

Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Dementia

There is growing scientific evidence to support the use of aromatherapy and reflexology in reducing the impact of dementia symptoms. Research has specifically highlighted how lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis) can improve cognition and mood in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and how lavender oil can reduce occurrences of aggressive behaviour.

The results may be partly because aromatherapy helps people to be more relaxed and less anxious, so that frustrations don’t build up and boil over. The essential oils can be administered through massage or through bath additives or room scents. To ensure the best possible care for residents at Sherborne House, our care home receives weekly visits from an Aromatherapist.

Reflexology involves massage of the hands or feet and has also been shown to reduce the stress associated with dementia as well as reducing symptoms of pain and depression, proving to be a useful tool to help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, as well as general aches and pains.

While we all hope that cures for the underlying causes of dementia will be found, it’s important that we all keep an open mind about complementary therapies and anything else that can help people to live more easily with their condition. To find out more about Altogether Care, contact us today on 01305 206140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

New Year, New Career: Why Care Is More Than Just a Job

How was the January return to work after the Christmas break? For many, the January blues are all too real as they get back into the monotonous routine of a job that they don’t much enjoy and which offers little scope for personal or career development.

Work can sometimes seem like fulfilling a job function rather than being who you really are. If the caring, industrious and people-centered aspects of your nature are all qualities that seem to stay at home while you go to work, perhaps it’s time to consider an alternative.

Is there an opportunity to be true to yourself and be more than just a cog in a machine designed to make money for somebody else? A new career in the care sector could be just what you need.

Careers in Care

The care sector is ever-growing with more jobs being created each year. Skills for Care estimate that the number of adult social care jobs increased by around 1.2% (an increase of 19,000 jobs) between 2017 and 2018. There are plenty of opportunities to find your first position, whether that’s in care delivery, admin, HR, marketing or some other supporting role.

There are long-term employment prospects in a wide range of roles, and there are opportunities for promotion and progression as well as job security.

Does This Sound Like You?

The people who build successful careers in care tend to be: friendly, attentive, positive, empathetic, open-minded, organised, reliable, patient, flexible, curious, and have a desire to learn. They also tend to have (or want to develop) skills in communication, critical thinking and problem-solving.

If you don’t want January 2021 to feel like January 2020, why not set yourself a new challenge. You could start by looking at the current vacancies in our care home and care at home services in Dorset, South Somerset and Hampshire. At Altogether Care, you’ll find a friendly and supportive team who will help you grow and thrive in your new career. For more information about careers at Altogether Care, contact our team on 01305 206140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk

2019 in Review: A Reflection from The Chairman

Having just bid farewell to the last decade and ushered into the next, I found myself musing over what Altogether Care LLP (ATC) had achieved in the last 10 years and what it might achieve in the next 10 years.

Looking back over the last decade, I derive great satisfaction from ATC’s organic growth, marked by the optimisation of our care home buildings, the rapid expansion of our Care at Home business and the significant increase in our neighbourhood customer base. This has enabled us to move up from a local business enterprise to a much larger regional enterprise that is now delivering the resources necessary for further expansion in the next decade.

Traditionally business logic would argue that the sole purpose of any business is to make a sensible profit to sustain its safe operation. While this is an important financial metric, ATC’s Board of Members judge it to be a narrow image of our business that constrains how we see our role in society. It is their view that while ATC must always strive for success in a business sense, it should not necessarily be expressed only in financial terms without any focus on the pastoral side of our care work and the well-being of our staff.

While it is uncertain what the UK’s future will look like outside the European Union, I have every confidence that our great nation will grasp the nettle and make Britain a powerhouse again. However, following Brexit, the government’s immigration policy will likely have a negative impact on the ability of the NHS and social care providers, such as ourselves, to recruit sufficient UK staff to replace EU staff upon whom we have become increasingly reliant.

With the above in mind, ATC needs to have an increasingly positive and progressive influence on the care sector over the next ten years. We must also recognise that we cannot grow the business without large numbers of good employees with a passion for care work and the right skill sets. Our business strategy must therefore be progressively shaped around the lives of our employees and service users and what makes their work and lives worth living. This will require a change in our thinking, remembering also that our care workers are both internal players and the company’s representatives in the community.

No doubt this will require more investment in our work force and society in general to help ATC build upon the institution that is its family business. To serve this purpose, the Board will, I am sure, wish to think beyond our business portfolio and make more room for investment in our employee’s empowerment, emotional engagement, values-based leadership, and related social contributions. In short, our employees, service users and society should not be an afterthought but must be placed at the core of our business plan.

In the next decade, I would expect ATC to continue to be a high-performing and growth minded business, which consistently meets services users’ needs and adds value by; providing satisfying jobs for our employees and by forging relationships with a network of suppliers and business partners, who can provide resources for improvement in such areas as, assistive technologies, innovation around service delivery and cost efficiencies wherever possible. Moreover, we should seek public approval for what ATC is and does by aligning our business objectives more closely with social values and reflecting this in our marketing approach.

In conclusion, only by thinking of ATC as a social institution, with strong family values, fantastic work culture, vibrant workplace environment and a as meritocracy offering a real chance for self-improvement and career success can we expect to attract and retain superior employees with a calling for care.

I firmly believe that in the immediate future ATC should place social logic alongside financial logic as a guiding principle for its market analysis, recruitment and retention, education, training, employment policy, and managerial decision making. This I feel will add another exciting dimension to our service that is significant, or more so, than commercial success alone.

It continues to be an immense pleasure for me to work with so many dedicated people who make a huge difference to the quality of older peoples’ lives.

Happy New Decade.

Brian Westlake

January Can Be the Loneliest Month for Older People

Research carried out by the Co-op revealed that for people of all ages, January is the month when they are most likely to experience loneliness. And it’s easy to see why: cold weather, short days and fewer opportunities to get out and meet people. ‘Blue Monday’ is the notorious 3rd Monday in January that is thought to be the most depressing of the year.

Now imagine how that feels for an older person living on their own. They may have been one of the more fortunate ones that had company and attention over Christmas. Then, once the New Year is in, everyone’s back to their normal routine and may be preoccupied with how to pay for the festivities just gone.

It’s easy to assume that we’ve done our bit by popping in to see an elderly relative or neighbour over the holiday period. And these visits are valued. It’s just that it’s hard if this is followed by weeks of seeing nobody.

Loneliness has a major impact on wellbeing, so how can wellbeing be improved in January?

In our care homes we ensure that people are kept occupied all year round with activities and are surrounded by people in a sociable environment. The question is, how this approach can be applied to people who receive care at home. It’s certainly much harder when it relies on busy people being able to find a few hours here and there in a busy life.

The reality is that people in residential care are less likely to experience loneliness and can enjoy better mental wellbeing as a result. There are activities such as puzzles, games, singing and visits arranged. Care homes can also look after other aspects that contribute to wellbeing such as eating a nutritious diet and taking regular exercise.

For many, a care home offers a more sociable environment compared to living at home, which can promote better health and wellbeing – in January and throughout the year.

Contact us at 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information about our services and care homes.

It’s Time for Unpaid Caregivers to Recharge their Batteries

‘Batteries not included’ used to be common wording on the packaging of Christmas gifts. Years ago, when shops were shut for the whole of the holiday period, this could cause problems. Partially discharged batteries were pulled out of torches, remote controls and who knows what else to extract the few final hours of energy from them. Toys could be played with and new gadgets used.

Being an unpaid caregiver at Christmas, whether you’re providing care for a family member or friend, can feel a lot like being one of those batteries. Your resources have been slowly drained over the year and you’re called on to give up one more burst of energy to hold everything together over the holiday. When it’s all over, you’re left feeling as flat as a bottle of fizz uncorked since Christmas Eve.

Burnout

Your batteries are not so easy to replace. January means back to normal, and back to the routine of daily unpaid care duties. Little wonder that December and January are the months when many caregivers experience burnout. That final burst over Christmas, when there is so much else to take care of on top of the care duties, took the last bit of energy.

It’s easy to convince yourself that everything will be fine once you’re back into the normal routine, but is it healthy? Everyone needs a break – carers more than anybody, especially if you work full-time alongside providing care for a loved one. But, of course, you’re responsible, and you’re taking care of somebody who is important to you. You can become trapped by feeling guilty if you take some time out.

Respite Care

It’s important to take some time out to look after yourself. After all, if your health fails, who will take over your caring duties in the longer term? Fortunately, you have options.

Respite care can be either residential or day care and is available at Altogether Care’s three Dorset care homes. It can allow you to take some time off to rest and look after yourself. It can also provide a welcome break from routine in a safe and caring environment for your loved one. A few days or a week can make all the difference and leave you feeling refreshed and recharged.

If you don’t wish to leave your loved one at all, Altogether Care’s Care at Home team are also on-hand to assist with your daily care duties, by lifting some of the work off from your shoulders when you need it most. Our Care at Home staff can help you with flexible day care assistance, getting out and about, help throughout the night or domestic support.

Contact us at 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information about our services and care homes.

Some recent day to day activities