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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.

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.

This Christmas, the Elderly Will Be Even More Affected by Loneliness

Even in normal times, winter can be a difficult time for the elderly. Colder weather and short days mean that there are fewer opportunities to get out and meet people. This winter, we have the added factor of Covid-19 restrictions. These make it harder for people to receive visitors or go out and socialise.

There is hope around the corner with the first vaccine being approved for use in the UK. Even so, the virus will be with us for many months. As we look forward hopefully to a return to normal living we can’t afford to forget life as it currently exists for many elderly people.

Loneliness and isolation are major concerns. The ongoing pandemic can only heighten these feelings with the added fear of possibly contracting the virus. Age UK estimates that around one third of elderly people are finding life particularly difficult.

What Can We Do To Help Combat Loneliness?

Probably the simplest thing we can all do is to be kind and considerate. Take a few moments to have a conversation, offer to help with collecting prescriptions or shopping. Don’t underestimate how powerful it is just to know that somebody cares enough to ask if you need help. According to Age UK a survey conducted for their No One Should Have No One campaign, two million people said they wouldn’t have got through the pandemic without ‘the kindness of strangers.’

Zoom, Skype and other video conferencing technology are helping people to feel less cut off. Having the technology available is one thing, taking the time to use it to contact an elderly relative is even more important. Altogether Care has worked hard to make sure our residents can use the latest technology to keep in touch with family and friends throughout what has been a difficult year for us all.

Maintaining physical visits, as far as we are able, is a priority. We recently updated our Visitation Policy to help us take care of the emotional wellbeing of our residents while also keeping them as safe as possible.

VISITATION POLICY

Hopefully, normality is around the corner. Until then, let’s do all we can to help prevent elderly people from feeling lonely and isolated.

For more information about anything mentioned in this article, email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

Nothing Stops the Christmas Fun at Altogether Care

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas at Sherborne House

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

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

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

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

Care At Home, Coronavirus and the Future

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

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

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

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

How Has Covid-19 Changed Things?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

How Can You Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing in Later Life?

World Mental Health Day on October 10th is designed to promote greater awareness of issues around mental health and to help remove the stigma that can surround it.

Mental health problems are more common than many people imagine, particularly in later life. The Mental Health Foundation estimates that 22% of men and 28% of women over 65 suffer from depression. So, what are the most important factors in maintaining good mental health in later life?

Relationships

Good personal relationships are well known to promote better mental health. All normal human interactions affect the levels of chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin.

Serotonin is important for general mental wellbeing as it helps the brain to function normally. Oxytocin is sometimes called the ‘love hormone’ as it affects our ability to form personal relationships. Human interactions help to boost the levels of these healthy chemicals, which is partly why isolation and loneliness can be so harmful to mental wellbeing.

Participation in Meaningful Activities

Keeping active, doing something purposeful and interacting with other people have also been proven to help maintain good mental health. This won’t surprise anybody; but it can be a challenge to find the right types of activities that are accessible in later life. You have to wonder how much health spending could be saved by investing in more community activities for older people.

Physical Health

Physical health and mental health are closely linked. A good diet helps to boost the levels of healthy chemicals in the body and also provides the energy to take part in activities. Regular exercise is also important, whether that’s walking, gardening or a few gentle stretches with friends during the day.

Care providers have a vital role to play in promoting better mental health in older people. We need to work closely with health services and ensure we support people in our care with the right nutrition and activities. We’re also aware that we may be the first to notice the signs of mental health problems – so we need to make sure our people are trained in what to look for and what to do.

At Altogether Care, resident’s health and wellbeing are at the focus of what we do. If you would like to find out more about either our care homes, care at home or our live-in care services please get in touch.

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.

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.

Care Home Open Day 2019 at Altogether Care

Altogether Care will be taking part in National Care Home Open Day on 28th June.

The nationwide open day event is a chance to celebrate all the different people, cultures and relationships in local areas, and show the community that care homes are friendly, happy and exciting places to be.

All of our care homes – Sherborne House in Yeovil, Steepleton Manor near Dorchester, and Weymouth Care Home will open their doors on Friday 28th June with an array of activities, information and events available.

See below the itineraries for each of our care homes.

Weymouth Care Home

  • Live music will start at 12pm, followed by high tea in the garden from 1pm.
  • We will also have an Art Gallery which will showcase all of our residents work.
  • There will be garden games for all ages, from hook a duck to ring toss.
  • Refreshments will be available, we will have fresh candy floss and a small sweet selection.
  • Find out more here.

Sherborne House

  • Coffee morning & cake tasting with the Yeovil Ukulele ladies in attendance will start at 11am.
  • Elvis will be in the building from 2pm to 3pm! Which will raise the heart beat and the spirits and have staff dancing along.
  • Visiting birds of prey with afternoon tea from 3pm to 4pm. Everyone will be able to handle and stroke the gorgeous array of birds.
  • Find out more here.

Steepleton Manor

  • Join us for Gardening Club from 10:30am to 12pm.
  • Alpaca’s will visit Steepleton from 2pm to 3pm.
  • Alan Knott providing Dorset Folk music entertainment from 3pm to 4pm.
  • Art Club exhibition will be on throughout the day in the main hall.
  • Find out more here.

And much more – so, what are you waiting for? Come along and meet our residents and staff and to find out why we have been supporting the local community for over 30 years.

Respite Care – Time to Rest, Recharge and Rethink

June 10-16, 2019 is National Carers Week. Organised by Carers UK, it recognises the contribution made by the 6.8m unpaid carers in the UK. Carers Week encourages them to become better connected and to take better care of their own health.

72% of unpaid carers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of stress, lack of sleep and financial concerns. 63% also said that their physical health had suffered as a consequence of their responsibilities. Many of these carers are delivering elderly care, sometimes alongside a regular job.

Being a carer takes its toll. It is frequently demanding, and it can be lonely. Many carers become socially isolated because they lack the time or energy to go out and meet people or because they worry about leaving the person they are caring for.

If this sounds like a familiar story, then respite care is worth considering.

Respite Care Gives Everyone a Break

A short spell of respite care in a care home can allow carers to get a break while being confident that their loved one is receiving round the clock personal or nursing care. They might take a short holiday or just enjoy a bit of space and time to recharge their energy. Relief from the anxiety of constantly looking out for the welfare of another person can reduce the mental strain and offer a chance to get some proper rest.

Respite care is also a valued service for people recovering from illness or perhaps adjusting to having reduced mobility or physical capabilities. Some use it for a few days while their home is being adapted to make it easier for them to live in, and some use it as an opportunity to sample life in a care home while they are assessing their options.

There are many reasons for using replacement or temporary care (as respite care is sometimes called). It might simply provide a bit of space to reassess care needs and make decisions about the future without being overwhelmed by day-to-day concerns.

Beautiful surroundings at Steepleton Manor provide a lovely environment for the period of respite care. Alternatively, our home in Weymouth provides a peaceful environment for residents, ideal for a few days or a week or two’s stay.

To find out more about how Altogether Care can help you and your loved one, contact us directly on 01305 300 161.

Why We Love to Hear Music in Our Care Homes

Whatever our personal tastes might be it seems that music is good for all of us. Studies show that music can help reduce stress, improve cognitive performance and memory, and may even help reduce the experience of pain.

Because there appears to be a strong link between music and well-being, music should be an important feature of life in every care home. This means more than just leaving the radio or a CD on all day. There are many ways that music can be integrated imaginatively to enhance the experience of care home residents.

Music and Dementia

Taking part in musically-themed activities has been shown to be particularly beneficial for people with dementia. As well as improving mood and emotional wellbeing musical activities can reduce feelings of isolation and improve self-esteem.

Music can stimulate and energise people so they become more interested in activities happening around them. It can alleviate anxiety, agitation and depression by helping people to work through and process feelings.

Carefully chosen music can also help people to reminisce. This provides a comforting sense of familiarity and can evoke feelings from fond memories.

Recognising the benefits that music brings, Music for Dementia 2020 is a new campaign that aims to make live music available for all people with dementia by 2020.

Live Music in Care Homes

Live music is particularly beneficial. A recent research study (Live Music in Care) led by the University of Winchester and Live Music Now concluded, ‘live music should be essential in all UK care homes.’ The simple reasoning being that residents are encouraged to be more active and engaged and that live music sessions lift the mood of residents and also care staff.

Live music has always been a feature of the varied activity programmes in all of our care homes. We’ve seen for ourselves, the enjoyment and benefits it brings to our residents and we fully support the aims of Music for Dementia and Live Music in Care Homes.

Contact us today on 01305 300 161 to find out more or arrange a visit to one of our care homes.

Weymouth – A Care Home Near the Sea is a Wonderful Place to Be

Thirty years ago, Weymouth became our first care home. As a family-run business, this will always make it a special place for us, once our family home, today it is where our Head Office is still based so we all still have a daily connection with the home, residents and staff. It’s also a special place for the many residents who have stayed with us over that time, and for their families who’ve had the peace of mind of seeing their loved ones well cared for.

We know there are many considerations when people choose a care home. The first of these is to make sure that the home offers the range of care and services you are likely to need. Weymouth care home offers nursing care, holiday or respite care and assisted living.

Above all, a care home has to be inviting, both for potential residents looking for a suitable home and for families and friends when they come to visit. The first impression should always make you feel welcome and at home. Friendly staff and a good standard of both living and communal accommodation are important factors when you make your decision.

Family values still shape our care and the home from home atmosphere we cherish. Each resident has the opportunity to have favourite photos and keep-sakes as a reminder that they are an important part of their own family as well as ours.

Staying Active and Engaged

Our welcoming communal spaces and garden are all about encouraging residents to be as active and engaged as possible. And our location, not far from one of Dorset’s finest beaches and seafronts, is another incentive for people to get out in the fresh air.

Dorset also has a wealth of local places of interest for days out and visits, either on one of our organised trips or with your visitors. Because of our location our residents are never stuck for something to do or somewhere to go.

Weymouth has proved to be an excellent location for a care home. It’s a pleasant place to live with plenty to do. It’s also easy for visitors to get to. We work hard to make sure our home lives up to the rest of the experience. If you would like to find out more about Weymouth Care Home or even spend the day with us, please contact us.

A Time for Looking Forward, as Well as Back

Older people living in care homes need a number of things to maintain their physical and mental well-being. The opportunity to take part in meaningful activities and to have family and friends still actively involved in their lives are crucial.

Wherever possible, a positive and forward-looking approach is particularly beneficial. Later life is a good time to try out new experiences and learn new skills. You have the time to try out activities you maybe always wanted to have a go at but were perhaps too busy to do in the past. It’s an important role for care homes to ensure that later years are as active and fulfilling as possible.

The Wishing Tree

One of the new features we’ve introduced into our care homes is the Wishing Tree. Our activity coordinators ask each of our residents what they would like to achieve over the next twelve months. Each ambition is written on a label and hung on the tree. We then work with our residents to help make their wishes become a reality.

The intention is for the tree to become a focus for residents and that their families will encourage them to come up with ideas that could help them reconnect with their past and recall significant memories and emotions.

Creative Minds

Our extensive activity programmes also include Creative Minds art classes. These are tailored for care residents and involve visits from tutors each month to take classes in a range of art forms.

As well as being fun, these classes boost self-confidence and esteem. Learning new skills helps to keep the mind healthy through cognitive stimulation and maintains and improves motor skills.

We aim to help all our residents to remain physically and mentally active, and to get the greatest number of positive experiences possible from their later years by continuing to look forward, not just back.

Contact us today on 01305 300 161 to find out more or arrange a visit to one of our care homes.

Some recent day to day activities