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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.

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.

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.

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.

Maintaining Health and Wellbeing: Why Care at Home May Be the Best Option

There is sometimes an assumption that having significant care needs automatically means residential care. But that needn’t be the case. There are plenty of options for receiving the care you need in your own home. For many people, care at home can even help them stay healthier for longer.

Good health and mental wellbeing are closely linked. And sometimes wellbeing comes from familiar surroundings and familiar routines. This can be particularly important for people with dementia. Being independent also helps people to feel more active and engaged, which also helps to keep them healthier for longer.

Living on Your Own

If you have a spouse, partner or family member living with you, staying in your home is easier. But even if you find yourself living alone it doesn’t mean that residential care is your only choice.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, people with dementia, ‘often feel happier if they can remain independent and in their own homes as long as possible.’ They list a few important factors for continuing to live contentedly in your own home:

  • Have a good support network of family, friends and care professionals.
  • Keep up with social activities and pastimes.
  • Make a point of calling people regularly and consider using a video calling service such as Skype.
  • Investigate local befriending groups.
  • Consider online forums and support groups if you don’t have friends or family you can talk to regularly.

The other important aspect of continuing to live a healthier and happier life in your own home is to find the right home care provider. Even if you need around the clock care to carry on living at home, it is possible to arrange this through a live-in care service. For many more people, it’s likely to be finding help with simpler tasks such as washing, dressing and housework.

Whatever the level of support you need, you should always be able to live at home if it’s where you feel happier and more independent. Talk to the team at Altogether Care and we’ll help you find the home care solution that works best for you. Contact 01305 206140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information.

Caring for a Loved One: How to Lift & Handle Safely and Properly

Being a caregiver is a demanding task. It is likely to be a role that you never asked for and maybe one that you never expected to have. It can be thankless, and it can sometimes feel like you are on your own.

Fortunately, there is help and support available from organisations such as Carers UK where you can find advice, guidance and online forums so you can share experiences and learn from other people in a similar situation.

As a family-run and socially responsible care business, Altogether Care also likes to support unpaid caregivers where we can with advice and occasional training courses.

Moving and Handling

One of the trickiest aspects of caregiving can be when you need to help somebody with restricted movement. Moving and handling comes with the risk of personal injury if you don’t do it correctly. You must also keep the dignity and self-respect of the person being moved in mind. Safe moving and handling are important aspects of the training that all our care staff go through.

Free Training Course

To help, we are offering free training to caregivers on how to move people safely. You’ll be provided with a certificate upon completing the course. It will take on Wednesday 18th March at 2pm and Thursday 26th March at 2pm.

The courses will be held at 13 Carlton Road North, Weymouth, DT4 7PY.

Booking is essential to secure your place. Please email ellief@altogethercare.co.uk or call 07881 802196 to book.

We’ll also give you free tea, coffee and cake. As well as the training you’ll have the chance to meet and talk to other caregivers.

Top Tips

If you can’t make the training here are a few moving and handling tips that will help:

  • Take account of the weight of the person. If you don’t think you’re strong enough don’t attempt it on your own.
  • Always get somebody to help if you can.
  • Make sure there are no obstacles or ‘slip and trip’ hazards.
  • Never lift above shoulder height
  • Space your feet to give you a firm and stable base.
  • Have a firm hold and keep any weight close to your body
  • Lift from the knees keeping your back straight
  • Lift as smoothly as possible

Obviously, it’s better to be shown how to do this than read about it. So, if you can, please come along to our free training session. We look forward to seeing you.

For more information, please contact us on 01305 206140 or email contact@altogothercare.co.uk

Getting Into The Yoga Flow at Steepleton Manor

In our mission to aid health and wellbeing among residents in our care homes, we have introduced regular yoga classes , which offer a gentle by effective workout. The yoga sessions are designed for wheelchair users but anyone can join in on the fun!

Taught by Leah Miles, a Yoga Instructor based in Bridport, the classes are tailored to stimulate many of the muscles that are used in walking, to help build strength and support the immune system. The classes are also calming and relaxing, providing residents with a relaxing way to get exercise.

To find out more about Steepleton Manor care home, contact 01305 300161.

Bea and Peter enjoying a Yoga class with Leah at Steepleton Manor

Do you want to find out about the likely costs for living in a care home? Try our care calculator here.

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.

Christmas Jumper Day at Steepleton Manor

The staff and residents were getting into the Christmas spirit last week with Christmas jumpers worn all round! It isn’t Christmas without a Christmas jumper day at Steepleton Manor.

Steepleton Manor has been serving as a luxury retirement home for over 20 years, specialising in assisted living, nursing and elderly care.

Altogether Care provides a wide range of care services such as Care in Your Own Home, Dementia Care, Holiday Care, Day Care, Nursing Care and Assisted Living Care. Each of our care plans are specifically tailored to provide the right balance of supportive, friendly and professional care.

Find out more about Steepleton Manor by giving us a call today on 01305 300161.

Christmas at Sherborne House & Santa’s Little Helpers

Last week, the staff at Sherborne House put their Christmas suits on and dressed as Elves to raise money for individuals affected by Dementia.

Dementia affects over 850,000 people in the UK, which is set to increase to over one million by 2025. We take great pride in providing the best possible quality of care for some of those people affected, ensuring that their environment is comfortable and accommodating to their needs.

This Christmas, the staff at Sherborne House are raising money with a raffle to contribute to the residents’ fund. Read more about our Dementia Care here.

Sherborne House Christmas Stockings

Tackling Loneliness this Christmas with Wiltshire Farm Foods

For Christmas 2019, Altogether Care is again teaming up with Wiltshire Farm Foods to bring some Christmas Day cheer to elderly people across Dorset and South Somerset.

As a family-run care business for over 30 years, you really get to know the communities you serve. This means, when it comes to Christmas, we are only too aware that many older people could be faced with a very lonely prospect. For many, Christmas is a time when they see no one and feel very much alone.

According to Age UK, over 870,000 people over 65 won’t see or hear from anybody for days over the festive period. Many people will feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time of the year. This is not exactly the Christmas spirit that everyone envisions over Christmas.

Determined to make sure that old people in our community who live on their own see at least one smiling face on Christmas Day, Altogether Care has, once again, partnered with Wiltshire Farm Foods. Working together, we will provide 120 free Christmas dinners to elderly people across Dorset and South Somerset.

This year our team will be distributing meals on Christmas Day, kindly donated by Wiltshire Farm Foods. Just as important as the meals, our care staff will spend time with each person. We will also be setting up Facetime and Skype so that clients can talk to their relatives on the day. Everyone will be provided with a delicious Christmas pudding and cracker to pull.

As ever, we are incredibly grateful to Wiltshire Farm Foods for their generosity. And to our dedicated team who give up their time because they know that older people on their own probably need us more than ever at Christmas.

Care is much more than a business for us. We see our role as supporting vulnerable people in a community that we are part of, at Christmas and all year round. For more information, please call 01305 766 099 and ask for Dawn or Rachel.

Self-Funding Care – What You Need to Know

If you live in England and have more than £23,250 in savings, you will probably have to pay for at least some of your care. The value of your property may also be taken into consideration if you opt for residential care rather than care in your own home.

As care costs can be significant, it’s no surprise that self-funding is one of the things we get asked about most often. Care at home will cost at least £20 per hour and residential care over £600 per week.

The reality for most people is that care costs are hard to avoid, and some level of self-funding is inevitable. But there are exceptions and it always pays to know the facts so you can plan effectively. The Money Advice Service has plenty of information on their website.

Exceptions and Benefits

Social care is intended to help with tasks that are part of normal living rather than healthcare needs for a disability or complex medical condition. Continuing healthcare requirements could potentially be covered by NHS funding. Unfortunately, there are no clear definitions of what conditions are included and getting the NHS to pay for healthcare costs can be difficult.

To access NHS support, you will need to ask your GP or social services department to arrange a care needs assessment.

You may be able to claim benefits to meet some of your care costs. If you are over 65 and have a long-term illness or disability, you can claim Attendance Allowance towards the cost of care at home. This may not cover the whole cost of your care but will help to reduce the burden.

If you have an illness or disability caused by work, you can claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and possibly a Constant Attendance Allowance on top of this if you need daily care.

Property

The value of your property isn’t relevant if you are planning to receive care in your own home. If you decide on residential care, it will be counted unless your partner continues to live in it.

It might be that selling your property to pay for residential care is a sensible choice. But there are alternatives if you’re not yet ready to make that step or if you want to remain at home. Equity release will provide a lump sum in return for a share of your home. Your council may also have a deferred payment scheme where they fund your care and recover the cost from the proceeds when your home is eventually sold or from your estate.

Arranging Care

If you are paying for your own care, you can choose a care provider you prefer and deal with them directly. It still makes sense to have a care needs assessment so that you know what type and level of care you need to buy and whether any financial support is available. The council might, for example, pay for equipment or modifications to your home to make it easier for you to live in.

If you think you are eligible for council or NHS funded care, arranging a care needs assessment will be the first step.

In some areas you can ask social services to arrange care with an approved provider and bill you for the cost, but not all areas offer this.

If you are funding your own care and you think that your savings will go below the £23,250 threshold, you should contact your social services department three months beforehand. They can then arrange a new financial assessment. They will not back-date their financial support if you claim after your savings have gone below the threshold.

Self-funding care can be a complex area, the team at Altogether Care are always happy to answer any questions you might have. Just give us a call on 01305 206140 or visit our Contact page.

Apetito – Food and Drink for People With Dementia

Apetito has been established since 1928; they employ their own in-house dietitian and registered nutritionist to create and ensure that all meals are not only delicious but that they also meet the nutritional standards required by the British Dietetic Association (BDA), the National Association of Care Catering and the Hospital Food Standards Panel. In 2016, Apetito won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for the second time for our texture-modified meals for people who have difficulty swallowing or chewing.

Altogether Care recognises that good nutrition and providing an enjoyable dining experience are central to promoting good health and well-being among our residents, values we hold dear at Sherborne House.

In September, Sherborne House held a food tasting afternoon delivered by Apetito. The afternoon was a resounding success with residents, family members and staff enjoying an array of mouth-watering dishes; with cleared plates all round.

Following on from this successful afternoon with everyone having the opportunity to fire questions fielded by a team of staff from Apetito; the question was asked whether Sherborne House should adopt Apetito? The decision by all was a resounding yes.

So, what does this mean for our residents?

We can now offer our residents a choice of over 200 delicious meals and desserts, so there’s something for everyone, with a wide range of meals tailored to every taste, dietary and cultural requirement.

For residents who have dementia, we acknowledge that the enjoyment of their meal starts with the eyes, with every mealtime a highly sensory experience, the visual aspect is essential.

We wanted to make a difference for all of our residents but  faced our biggest challenge was the presentation and taste of our texture modified meals for residents with swallowing difficulties. Typically, these meals were shapeless, somewhat tasteless, not to mention visually unpalatable. We are now delighted that the meals we now provide are visually appealing; with clean plates all around proving the success of the new recognisable shaped foods.

Most importantly, using Apetito means that all of our meals meet Care Quality Commission (CQC) and National Association of Care Catering (NACC) standards and are in line with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) guidelines. The meals carry the optimal nutritional value, all while catering for dietary requirements and conditions such as dysphagia.

One Thing You Should Always Look for When Choosing a Care Home

If you had to choose a care home, what would you look for? You might look at the quality of the accommodation, staff training, food or maybe even the CQC inspection report.

If your biggest concerns were maintaining emotional and physical wellbeing, good mental health and being less at risk of developing dementia you’d probably want to take a very close look at the activity programme.

There’s a growing body of evidence that staying physically and mentally active is vitally important in later life. The benefits of a full activity programme include better mobility, self-esteem, confidence, independence and companionship.

New research reported by Psychology Today suggests that maintaining high levels of social interaction may also make people more resilient when it comes to the risks of cognitive decline and developing dementia.

At the most basic level activities make life more fun. They are a way to make friends, learn new skills, see new places and interact with other people.

Activity programmes in care homes are not just a way of filling time and preventing residents from getting bored. They are also part of the care people receive because they make such a meaningful contribution to maintaining levels of health and wellbeing.

Our care homes have activity coordinators who carefully plan programmes that include art classes, live music, exercise, dance, gardening and crafts. There are also regular organised trips to nearby locations and events. We aim to provide something for everyone, whatever their level of ability, and many activities are organised in response to residents’ suggestions.

For many residents, being in care makes it easier to access activities so they can enjoy more social interaction, stimulation and enjoyment in their later years.

There are many factors to weigh up when choosing a care home, we’d suggest that the variety of activities on offer should be fairly near the top of the list. You can contact us here to find out more information.

How Will You Use the CQC Ratings When You Search for a Care Home?

Choosing a care home or a home care provider is a big decision. Anything that helps people make a better choice for themselves or for an elderly relative should be welcomed.

In theory, the ratings issued following inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ought to be a useful, or even definitive, guide. In our experience, people do pay a lot of attention to ratings, particularly if poor ratings are picked up by the local press. A CQC judgement of inadequate can effectively put a care provider out of business.

But how well do most people understand where the ratings come from, what they mean or how reliable they are? It can be quite complicated as we explained in a recent article about what CQC ratings for care providers mean.

A central problem is that the CQC has developed into a large, cumbersome organisation. The complexity of the inspection regime, with over 600 regulations and CQC expecting 100% compliance for each is getting close to micromanagement. But this is hard to sustain in an organisation that struggles to recruit enough qualified inspectors and only visits most providers every couple of years.

How Accurate Are CQC Ratings?

CQC ratings and reports reflect a snapshot of how an inspection team interpreted what they saw on a specific day. Is this a realistic and accurate picture of what happens on a normal day when inspectors aren’t around? Are some providers simply better at preparing for inspections than others?

Some high-profile cases of neglect and abuse have, in fact, happened at homes that had been rated ‘good’. Similarly, you could probably find many perfectly contented residents in the more than one-in-eight care homes that have never had an overall rating of good. And several homes that are rated as inadequate had previously been rated as good.

So, does all of this mean that CQC ratings have no value? Not necessarily. They are still the result of an independent person who has followed an inspection process. Overall, they will tend to identify homes that are better run and where residents are better cared for.

There’s a strong argument that there are other important considerations for people choosing a care home. The best advice is to see the home for yourself during a normal day. Talk to the staff, try to get a sense of the atmosphere and ask yourself whether it’s somewhere that you or your family member would be happy to live.

Visitors are always welcome at all of our care homes. If you’d like to see for yourself how we work, you can contact us here to arrange a visit and find out more information.

Which Elderly Care Option is the Right One?

Like it or not, care is something more of us will have to think about. People are living longer and more of us will develop medical conditions that mean we will need help to cope with everyday life to some degree.

Of course, there are plenty of excuses to put it off. These include fears over the potential cost or simply not wanting to accept that time is taking its toll and we need a bit of help. But it’s a reality that may have to be faced and there are probably many more care options than you realise.

Many chose to receive care at home. This can include help with simple tasks such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, washing or dressing. It can make life in your own home easier to manage and give you more time to do things you enjoy. For people with more acute medical needs there are further options to help you stay in your own home including live-in care.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is also a possibility. Typically, people have their own apartment in a home that has round the clock care support available if needed. The advantages are that these homes are designed specifically for people with greater mobility and focus on providing a more convenient and social environment for those that may want to take away the hassle and cost of running their own home.

Residential Care

Residential care is also not always what people imagine. Many residents in our care homes live active, fulfilling and enjoyable lives and are always guaranteed company and something to do. Being within a residential care setting also means that somebody is keeping an eye on your health and nursing or dementia care can be introduced when needed.

Respite Care

Respite care is used for a short period to give carers and the cared-for a break and a change of scene. And sometimes home care or residential care is provided temporarily to help recovery from injury or illness.

How & When do I Need to Choose?

Choosing the best option will depend on each individual and their needs. The first stage is usually to have a care assessment carried out by social services. You might also have a care assessment if you are discharged from hospital.

Based on the care assessment an individual care plan will be developed. This must consider your preferences and allow you to make choices for yourself. This is a good time to understand all of your options and talk them through with family and friends.

Paying for Care

Unless you have very little in the way of savings or assets or your care is the result of a medical diagnosis your care will not be free in England. You can find information about the costs of care here.

The team at Altogether Care will also be happy to advise you. Our information on funding care may be helpful. And you are always welcome to visit one of our care homes to see for yourself what supported living in a caring environment looks like.

What Could the Care Home of the Future Look Like?

As the population continues to age there’s little doubt that, in future, more people will need or opt for residential care. Meanwhile, the amount of public funding available to pay for care seems unlikely to grow in real terms. Alongside all of this we have the continued development of new technologies designed to save effort and improve productivity.

Many have speculated on what these trends mean for the care home of the future. The only thing we can say for certain is that whatever is being predicted, the reality will probably prove to be rather different.

Will care home residents really be patting robotic pets while robotic helpers clean their rooms, serve their meals and dispense their medication? Surely the value of technology and innovation is in supporting, rather than replacing the human elements of care.

Here are a few of the technological advances that we see playing a role in the care home of the future.

Assistive Technology

Various types of assistive technology are being developed that could improve safety, wellbeing and quality of life for people who need care. Ambient monitoring systems have the capacity to monitor movement, temperature, falls and spills and other data that indicate health and activity levels. This can all provide useful data to complement observations by care staff to ensure that everyone gets the most appropriate care and can live as independently as possible.

What is unquestionable is that people are becoming more focused on the quality of care and the opportunities offered to live fuller and more active lives.

Robotics

It also seems likely that robotic aids of various kinds could help people enjoy greater freedom of movement and maintain more of their physical capabilities. Similarly, augmented reality is proving its worth in providing immersive reminiscence experiences for people with dementia. And robotic pets can indeed help dementia sufferers cope with the stress their condition can cause.  We have recently introduced an electronic interactive cat at Sherborne House. The cat demands attention, but this is in no short supply, the interaction and care from residents has been surprising for us and beneficial for residents.

Mobile Technology

Where technology is already helping is in the organisation, delivery and monitoring of care tasks. Within our care homes and or care at home service we are already using mobile technology that is helping to eliminate paperwork and manual effort from many aspects of what we do. Everything from patient care, to medication, incident reporting and food safety can be streamlined and better organised through technology.

A good care home of the future may look different from a care home of today. It will use different technologies. But what won’t change is the personal relationships and interactions that good care has always and will always depend on. To arrange a visit to one of our care homes to find out more information, contact us today on 01305 300161.

Some recent day to day activities