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Care At Home, Coronavirus and the Future

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

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

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

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

How Has Covid-19 Changed Things?

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

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

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

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

Could Live-In Care Be Right For You?

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

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

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

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

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

What Does Live-In Care Mean?

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

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

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

Is Now the Time to Consider Live-in Care?

While the number of cases is declining, the battle against COVID-19 in the UK is far from over. A vaccine is, at best, many months away. Most health experts are still concerned about the possibility of a second wave of the virus when we move into autumn and winter. These are the seasons when viral infections spread most easily.

Fortunately, medical science is learning more about the virus every day. Even so, the most effective measures currently available are physical distancing and good hygiene. And for older people with care needs, distancing presents difficulties. It is more difficult and stressful for relatives and informal carers to visit to help with personal or medical care if we are in lockdown.

Even as most of the country eases its way out of lockdown, the advice for vulnerable people with underlying health issues is to be cautious about going out or receiving visitors. In these circumstances the problem isn’t just lack of caregiving, it’s also lack of companionship.

Residential or Live-in Care?

So, if friends and family are not able to help with care, or are not willing to visit for fear of infecting a vulnerable person, what’s the best option?

Care homes could be a less attractive option for many people than before the pandemic. A recent poll showed that 40% of over 65s are less likely to consider moving into a care home due to the pandemic. While many homes have had zero or very low numbers of cases, the sector as a whole was severely affected. It will take some care homes a while to recover.

Perhaps Live-in Care offers a more suitable option.

Live-in care means that a carer lives in the client’s home. It is an effective way to make sure that older people with care needs are looked after and that there is always somebody around for the equally important aspects of companionship and conversation, that play such an important part in someone’s mental wellbeing.

You can find out more about our Live-in Care service on our website. Or call us on 01305 206 140 to discuss your needs and options.

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

What Can You Do to Help a Lonely Person This Christmas?

This Costs You Nothing but Will Mean the World to a Lonely Person

A few simple acts of kindness and consideration can make a huge difference to the lives of many, especially those feeling lonely this Christmas.

Imagine if you were suddenly cut off from your friends, family, work colleagues and everybody you interact with daily, wandering around an empty home with only the echoes of your footsteps for company. When you venture outside, you’re seen but never noticed. How long could you stand it? A few hours, a day, a week? How would you start to feel inside? What if your life was a prospect of this, day after day, seemingly without end?

A World Without Words

If the thought of that type of loneliness fills you with sadness or even horror, now consider that there are over a million older people living among us for whom that is the daily reality. They can go a whole month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. 225,000 elderly people often go a whole week without speaking to anyone at all (Age UK).

Not surprisingly, this can have a crushing effect on wellbeing and mental and physical health.

What Does a Lonely Person Look Like?

How would you know if somebody was lonely? They’re probably not going to tell you or ask for help. Pride and the stigma surrounding loneliness and mental health will get in the way. This means it’s up to the rest of us to take the initiative and be a bit more vigilant and a bit more caring.

What to look out for:

  • Most people won’t admit they are lonely, but they might give verbal clues like saying they never see anyone.
  • If someone you know seems down or depressed, or if they never seem to want to end a conversation, it could be down to loneliness.
  • Lonely people sometimes complain about imaginary illnesses.

Feeling lonely isn’t just restricted to Christmas. Many elderly people experience loneliness all year round, often being unable to venture outside and talk to anyone for weeks. It is important to work together to help combat loneliness and improve the wellbeing of other members of the community. 

There are simple ways you can help:

  • Start a conversation with an older person.
  • Call an older relative.
  • Check in with an older neighbour.
  • Volunteer within the community or with charities like AgeUK.

The first three of these may seem trivial and insignificant, but to somebody who is experiencing loneliness, they could mean the world.

The power of ‘giving your words’ is encapsulated in the Cadbury’s campaign that aims to raise money for Age UK. They donate 30p for each special edition chocolate bar sold with no words on the packaging. It’s not just about the donations, it’s also bringing home the message that a simple conversation and a few words can make all the difference to a lonely person.

We believe in supporting vulnerable people in a community that we are part of, at Christmas and all year round. To find out more about how we help the community, read our Christmas article here.

What Are Your Care Options if You Want to Stay in Your Own Home?

As you get older it’s likely that you’ll need some kind of care or assistance with everyday life. This might be long-term or for a brief period to help you recover from illness or a fall. For many people it’s important to remain living in their own home for as long as possible while they receive the care they need.

Home, or domiciliary care can be less expensive than residential care. It also means you can stay in familiar surroundings and remain connected to friends, family and social activities.

There are many options available for the care you can receive in your own home. These range from simple tasks such as picking up prescriptions, shopping and preparing meals, through to nursing care and medication. Some people want help with getting out of bed, washing and dressing and some just want help getting out of the house to meet friends.

Visits from your carer could be a few times a week, once a day or several times a day depending on your needs. The Care at Home service offered by Altogether Care is built entirely around the help you need.

24/7 Care

It’s also possible to arrange around the clock care in your own home by opting for live-in care.

This can be particularly helpful in the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, where memory becomes an issue and having a familiar carer on hand can be helpful. But many people just like the reassurance and value the friendship and personal bond they form with a live-in carer.

Live-in care helps people maintain a degree of independence. Staying in familiar surroundings can be particularly important for the wellbeing of some people. Keeping pets, for example, is often important and not usually possible in residential care. The live-in carer can make sure that both pet and owner are well looked after.

Depending on your needs and circumstances, residential care could still be your best option. But it’s far from your only choice if staying in your own home is important.

Could Live-In Care Give you the Best of Both Worlds?

When continuing to live in your own home becomes too difficult residential care may seem like your only choice. And for a large number of people it’s an ideal option. Not having to worry about household chores, help with personal care and guaranteed company and companionship are just what they need.

But for some people, having to leave their own home is a last resort. Home is where their memories are; it’s at the heart of their family, friends and a community where they feel they belong. The potential upheaval of moving home to unfamiliar surroundings can seem a daunting prospect. Residential care might also mean having to say goodbye to much loved pets.

For these people, live-in care can be an attractive alternative to residential care.

How Does Live-In Care Work?

As the name suggests, your carer will live in your house with you so that you have round the clock care and support. Your carer can take care of domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and shopping as well as helping with personal or medical care if needed.

Other than that, your home is still your home. Family and friends can drop in as before and you can continue to take part in the leisure and social activities you currently enjoy.

For people needing end of life care, live-in care can also be an alternative to a hospice.

What Are the Benefits?

In short, live-in care means you can get as much help and support as you need without having to change where or how you live. You also have the advantage of companionship and emotional support from a specially trained carer.

Live-in carers are special people. Obviously, the relationship between you and your carer is important. The Altogether Care live-in care service will help you choose a carer who can support your personal and medical care needs as well as being somebody you can get along with. Find out more about our live-in care service or contact us here.

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.

30 Years in Care Celebration at Steepleton Manor – a Great Success!

On Saturday 6th October, Steepleton Manor Care Home near Dorchester opened its doors to the local community to celebrate 30 Years in Care.

The event was a great success, providing a chance for guests to look around the newly refurbished luxury assisted living rooms and facilities and raise money for local charity Hangers Heroes.

The Dorchester Town Cryer opened the event, following a performance from traditional Highland piper Piper 2000. Live music was provided by Poole Borough Band with songs from the likes of Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain and The Beatles, and Wessex FM broadcasting live from the home. Dorchester Classic Vehicle Club’s display of classic cars took pride of place in front of the home.

Residents, staff and guests enjoyed a performance of ‘The Gold Old Days’ Pantomime from Party Time Productions, with younger guests being entertained with balloon modelling from Totally Twisted and face painting from About Face. Jester Patch provided two lively performances for everyone to enjoy – complete with audience participation! We even managed to fit some Alpacas and Owls into the main hall for everyone to meet.

Altogether Care CEO Steve Knell said: “It was a real pleasure to showcase Steepleton Manor at such a special event celebrating 30 years as a family run care provider. It was great to see so many faces from the past and present – staff, residents, clients and entertainers. It made for a really special day.”

A total of £486 was raised for Hangers Heroes – we would like to extend a huge thank you to all performers, guests and care home staff for making the day a huge success.

You can view the photos from the day from visiting our Facebook page.

What do CQC Inspection Reports Really Tell You?

First of all, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections are a good thing. It is important that there is accountability so that people placing their trust in care services can have confidence that the system is properly regulated.

Accountability also helps providers with common performance benchmarks and guidance on where we can improve.

To make best use of CQC inspection reports when choosing a care home or home care provider, it can help to understand a bit of background and context. Inspectors report on whether services are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led. There are four possible ratings: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate. There is no category for ‘satisfactory.’

Some of the inspection rating is based on documentation such as procedures and record keeping and some of it is essentially a snapshot of what inspectors saw and who they spoke to. So, there could be some subjectivity in the findings- there’s also potentially some randomness based on exactly when the inspection happened.

There’s no doubt too, that some providers are better at the process of preparing for inspections than others. Although you could argue that this is what you’d expect from a well-managed organisation.

What do Ratings Mean?

Don’t dismiss homes simply if they are not Outstanding or Good. Care providers, and more importantly, care users are highly individual and other factors should also be considered.

For example, a home with a lower rating may be a better choice for an individual if the location makes it easier for relatives to visit and for the resident to maintain links with the community they come from. It may be that the facilities and activities on offer are more in line with what a particular person wants.

Similarly, you shouldn’t necessarily be put off a care home because its CQC rating at its last inspection was ‘Requires Improvement.’ There may not be that much practical difference between a provider that just got over the threshold to be rated ‘Good’ and one that didn’t quite make it.

If a home or provider is said to require improvement, it’s important to understand what this means. It could be that they provide essentially safe and effective care but need to tighten up some of their management processes. Even a provider with an ‘Inadequate’ rating shouldn’t be discounted out of hand if the management is taking urgent and purposeful action to correct the shortcomings found in the inspection.

The best way to identify the most suitable care home is to arrange a visit during a normal day to see for yourself whether residents look happy and well cared for. By all means, take along a copy of the most recent inspection report and talk through any concerns with the manager. More importantly, go with an open mind and ask: ‘is this a place where I or my loved one could live the life they want to live. To arrange a visit at any of our ‘Good’ care homes, contact us today on 01305 300 161.

Community Care Team are Outstanding

Staff from Care at Home in Yeovil have been praised for their outstanding care service in a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

Over 100 local people receive care in their own homes by the staff in the Yeovil office which received an overall rating of ‘Good’.

The two day inspection took place in June and focused on a variety of areas including safety, management and how responsive the staff are.

A total of 25 care staff work at the office which is part of Altogether Care, a Dorset based care provider which is family owned.

Care skills and knowledge were also praised along with staff’s ability to build relationships with their service users.  The report also stated that dignity and privacy were respected at all times and the Manager of the Yeovil office was open and approachable.

The report also highlighted that systems are in place to monitor the quality of the service and to respond to concerns and complaints and to learn from issues raised and that people received effective care and support from staff who had the skills and knowledge to meet their needs.

Caitlin Hughes, Manager of Care at Home in Yeovil said,

“We are all delighted to receive such a positive result of our recent inspection. We may be a small team but we deliver a big service.  We do our best to offer the best possible care service to local residents in their own homes and we respect that each person is an individual with different requirements”.

Photo L-R: Lisa Charles-Field, Caitlin Hughes, Zoe Jone, Helen Lambden

Could Live-in Care be the Best Option?

Once a person’s care needs become too extensive to be met by home care visits the next step is often residential care. But it doesn’t have to be. Live-in care offers many people a blend of independence and support that meets their needs better than a care home.

For some, moving into a care home might be too much of an upheaval – settling into a new environment might be disorientating and distressing. This is particularly true for people with dementia who find familiar surroundings and routines comforting. The care home option could mean becoming uprooted from a community and friends. It could mean having to rehome and leave behind a much-loved pet.

Sometimes it’s the perceived loss of independence that makes residential care unappealing; particularly if a person is mentally very active but physically impaired.

How Live-in Care Works

For many, live-in care is an option worth exploring. It involves a care worker living in the person’s home so that they are able to provide round-the-clock support. They can help with personal care, medication, cooking and cleaning or pet care. There’s also somebody on hand for companionship and to reduce the risk of trips and falls.

Live-in carers also support trips out, whether it’s to the doctor, the supermarket or the hairdresser.

For some people the need for more extensive care is temporary, perhaps when they are recovering from illness or an operation. Being able to receive round-the-clock care in their own home for a short period means they can leave hospital without having to wait for a residential place to become available. They can also get back to normality and regain greater independence quickly.

Obviously, the personal relationship is important. As a provider of live-in care we work hard to match the right carer to each service user so that they can meet the full range of needs and get along as people.

Decisions about the most appropriate form of care need a lot of consideration. At ATC we work closely with service users and families to explain the options and help everyone to make the choice that works best. Find out more about our Live-in Care service here, or contact us today on 01202 894 925.

Live-in Care – The modern solution to care

It is predicted by a report from Age UK, that there are now 11.4 million people aged 65 or over in the UK, with more people aged 60 and above than there are under the age of 18. With an ageing population there is great importance placed on providing flexible care pathways to cater for individual’s needs where they feel most comfortable.

Age UK predicted last year that around 350,000 people were waiting for a place in either a residential or nursing home. With so many people waiting to receive a place for full time care, we have in turn seen an increase in care at home as a positive alternative. Home care is able to provide a flexible range of assistance dependant on how much or little you may require, tailored to suit your individual needs. This could be providing one-to-one live-in care to enable you to continue living in your home or perhaps popping in to provide companionship and occasional assistance with shopping or domestic tasks. With an arrangement that suits you and your needs, you can continue to enjoy life in your own home.

Spending time with your family and friends and engaging with the wider community is a priority for most people regardless of age and ability, to continue with your hobbies, interests and social activities is crucial in reducing the potential for social isolation and loneliness. A support package focussed not just on what’s important for you but also what is important to you, you can continue to live your life as fully as you’d like knowing that should you need us, we are there.

We understand the importance of providing a person focussed care service and have a range of flexible options available should your care needs change.

Talk to us now about how we can help you remain independent and get the most from life.

Taking a fresh approach

As we live longer the question of how we will cope with the challenges of old age is becoming more and more pertinent to an ever increasing number of people in Britain.

Across Dorset and South Somerset, Altogether Care a leading provider of age related care is taking a fresh approach.

Offering a range of residential, nursing centres and community based Care at Home services reaching from Bournemouth to Yeovil, this family run organisation puts emphasis on recognising that as individuals we are all different and there should be no one size fits all approach to care and support.

Altogether Care is able to offer a broad range of outcome based care that is firmly focused and tailored to each person as an individual.

Altogether Care supports and enables individuals to be active participants in their support rather than simply passive recipients of care. For most people maintaining independence is of huge importance and Altogether Care’s flexible care routes are designed to support this.

Offering an integrated care pathway, from regular home visits which are fundamental in reducing social isolation for those who need a relatively low level of support and monitoring, progressing then to live-in care options for those who may be more dependent but very much want to stay at home, to specialist residential, nursing and dementia care for those who may ultimately need a higher level of support. In addition, Altogether Care is a well regarded provider of palliative and end of life care.

Prominent in Altogether Care’s portfolio of services are Sherborne House in Yeovil a specialist dementia and high dependency service, Weymouth Care Home providing residential and nursing services and Steepleton Manor.

Steepleton Manor must be almost unique in so far as this service it is able to offer; residential, nursing and end of life care in the setting of a late Victorian Manor house, in the idyllic Dorset countryside of Thomas Hardy.

Wherever the setting Altogether Care’s commitment is to delivering high quality care based on not only what is important for an individual but also what is important to an individual.

Some recent day to day activities