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Is now the Right Time to Consider Respite Care for Your Love One?

Following the distressing and turbulent times that Covid-19 brought to the UK, with its associated lockdowns and the trauma that it brought with it, this country now seems to be returning to something approaching normality. 

Care homes are operating more or less normally, and the options for care for your loved ones have increased exponentially. Is now the right time to consider residential care for your older relatives? 

Is a care home the best option?

Your relative might be having increasing difficulty with everyday tasks like washing, cooking or dressing themselves and taking their medication. They might be worried about falling, with no one around to help them. And they can get increasingly stressed by the little things in life.

Moving into a care home can give the elderly a new approach to life – they can meet new people with shared life experiences, and they can make new friends. Because there are highly-trained staff on hand at all times, the worries about being on their own melt away. They are fed and washed and entertained and properly looked after.    

Depending on the level of care needed, their every need will be taken into account, and if they need extra nursing or dementia care, that can be arranged. 

Respite care

It may be that it’s too soon for you to start thinking about full-time residential care. In which case, respite care might be a more suitable option.

Respite care can be for a short time, such as only a few hours every week, or can be overnight, or a weekend. 

Even though many people take a great deal of pleasure in providing care to their loved ones so that they can remain at home, the financial, physical and emotional consequences can be overwhelming without some support, such as respite. 

To be most effective, you should consider respite services much earlier than you might think you will need them. Respite is best if you use it before you become exhausted, and isolated by your responsibilities. 

Altogether Care is committed to providing your loved ones with the highest possible standards of care, and is vigilant about the possible return of variants of the Covid-19 virus, se we take every possible precaution to keep residents and staff as safe as possible.

If you’d like to explore care options available for yourself or an elderly relative, give Altogether Care a call, visit our website, or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

A Career With a Healthy Work-Life Balance

The pandemic changed the way a lot of people work, perhaps permanently. Many found working from home preferable to commuting to and from a fixed place of work.

But was it just the change of setting that made people happier in their work? Research by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests that some aspects of homeworking are actually less attractive. In particular, people found it harder to collaborate with colleagues. And there’s no doubt that some people miss the social aspects of the workplace.

The biggest positive according to the ONS data was unquestionably an improved work-life balance. Being home based gave people opportunities to take or collect kids from school and generally enjoy more family time, rather than arrive home late each day after a tiring commute.

Will Work From Home Last?

The future of home working is unclear. Some organisations are already calling staff back into the office full or part time. And in other occupations such as retail there’s no option other than to be present in the workplace for a fixed number of hours.

When people say they’re looking for jobs that allow them to work from home is it that they really want to turn part of their home into a place of work? Or is it just that they want to balance work and life a little more in their favour?

Where Else Can You Find Work-Life Balance?

If the most important goal is to have a better work-life balance there are alternatives. A new job that offers flexibility to blend work and family life more harmoniously might be all you need.

In which case the care sector is an excellent place to start looking. People don’t just need care within normal office hours. So working for Altogether Care usually allows people to choose work patterns that fit best with their home life and commitments. This can take a lot of stress and pressure out of everyday life as it’s easier to fit your work around the things you need and want to do.

If you’d like to find out more about how working in the care sector can improve your work-life balance, contact Altogether Care on 01305 230488 or email careers@altogethercare.co.uk, or check out our current vacancies.

Our Dorset’s Here For Each Other Team Deliver a ‘Hug in a Mug’ to Altogether Care Staff

We are thrilled to have recently had the Our Dorset’s Here For Each Other team visit our wonderful staff in their coffee van as part of their ‘Hug in a Mug’ tour.

The tour is a great opportunity for staff and teams across Dorset to physically meet the team who may have supported them in the past and get answers to questions around the support available to them. So far, the team has visited many sites and plans to visit many more sites in the coming months.

Here For Each Other is Our Dorset’s enhanced staff wellbeing service supporting staff and teams across Dorset who work in social care to look after their wellbeing while prioritising others.

They have a wide range of offers ranging from; wellbeing coaching to physiotherapy, counselling, psychological therapy and mental health. There’s something for everyone and they are always here to help.

Staff and teams can access support on the website or from the Enhanced Health and Wellbeing Hub via an online referral or by calling 01202 130130 (Mon-Fri, 08:00 – 16:00).

They also offer a monthly Wellbeing Buzz newsletter full of wellbeing updates and resources from across Dorset’s health and care sector.

Find out more on their website

Are You Looking For a Job or a Career?

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.

Altogether Care is committed to career development for all of our staff. So if you’re looking for a change and want to start a rewarding career, give Altogether Care a call on 01305 230488 or email careers@altogethercare.co.uk, or check out our current vacancies.

Independence is a Personal Thing

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.

If you’d like to explore care options available for yourself or an elderly relative, give Altogether Care a call, visit our website, or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

New Year, Is It Time for a New Career?

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.

You can find more information on different care careers on the Skills for Care website. Alternatively, if you live in south Somerset or Dorset and are thinking about a more rewarding career, contact us on 01305 230488 or email careers@altogethercare.co.uk, or check out our current vacancies.

What to Expect When You Start Your New 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.

Induction

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.

Contact us on 01305 230488 or email careers@altogethercare.co.uk, or check out our current vacancies.

Is Now the Right Time to Move Into a Care Home?

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 contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

Imagine Retirement With More Time To Do The Things You Love

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.

If this sounds appealing, you can find out more and take a glimpse inside Steepleton Manor by watching our video. You’re also more than welcome to spend a day with us. Just follow this link for more information and to arrange a visit.

Considering A Career In Care? Who Will You Work For?

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.

“My Elderly Relative Needs Help But Won’t Accept It”

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.

We Put The Care Into Career

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.

Check out current opportunities at https://altogethercare.co.uk/careers/ or contact us on 01305 230 488 and let’s talk about your future in care.

How To Rebuild Confidence And Enjoy Life After Lockdown

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.

Exercise

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.

Anxiety

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.

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Care Home Life: What To Expect & What’s On

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. 

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Ready for Anything

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.

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What’s On

Pub Lunches

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.

Bus Trips

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.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SHERBORNE HOUSE

Staff Welcome Party at Sherborne House

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.

1970s Memorabilia

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.

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

Respite Care: It’s Time to Give Caregivers a Break

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.

READ ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS AFTER DEMENTIA DIAGNOSIS

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.

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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.

Find out more about holiday care, day care and your other care choices by visiting our resource centre. Or to enquire directly, contact 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

Stroke Awareness Month: Beaminster Care at Home Bake Sale

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.

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Why Flexibility Is The Key To Maintaining Independence In Later Life Care

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.

CARE AT HOME COSTS

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.

FLEXIBILITY IN CARE

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.

For more information about our care services, contact 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

A Loved One Has Been Diagnosed With Dementia – What Happens Next?

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 CARE OPTIONS DURING THE PANDEMIC

Wellbeing

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.

ACCESS MORE USEFUL RESOURCES

Carer’s Assessment

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.

Practical Considerations

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.

For information on Dementia Care options, call 01305 206140 or email info@altogethercare.co.uk.

Covid Shouldn’t Prevent You Getting The Care You Need

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

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

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

VISITATION POLICY

Distancing

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.

READ COVID-19 DIDN’T TAKE THE CARE OUT OF OUR CARE HOMES

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

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

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A CARE HOME

Choosing A Care Home – What Do You Need To Think About?

A new year is often the time for taking stock and making plans. For older people it’s maybe an opportunity to think about whether they need extra help with everyday tasks or perhaps more extensive care. Depending on your needs there are plenty of options, ranging from personal care in your own home to full time nursing care.

The starting point is usually a care needs assessment carried out by your local council. The assessment is to identify and document your needs. It isn’t there to tell you what to do, it’s to help you choose the type of care that suits you best.

It might be that you can continue living in your own home with a few modifications, perhaps supported by a care at home service. For some, residential care will be the best option. Here too, there are choices.

The most suitable care home will depend partly on the type of care you need. This could be personal care such as help with washing and dressing, through to round the clock registered nursing or specialist care. Most importantly, the care home you choose should be somewhere that you will feel at home and well cared for.

How to Choose a Care Home

Choosing a care home is a big step. It’s important to do your research to be as sure as possible that you’re making the best choice. Points to consider include:

  1. Funding support. You may be eligible for some financial support, depending on your circumstances. Most people will need to pay for some or all of their care so financial planning is important.
  2. Recommendations and online reviews. It’s helpful to see what families of care home residents say about the home.
  3. Your own impressions. Does it feel like somewhere you’d be happy to live?
  4. The type of care you need.

All Altogether Care homes provide nursing care to meet most people’s needs. Sherborne House also has specialist nursing care for dementia, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, stroke victims and behavioural difficulties arising from a loss of mental awareness. Each home is friendly, welcoming and caring and makes it a priority for you to maintain as much independence as possible.

Find out more about our homes.

Alternatively, call 01305 300 161 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information.

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