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Would You Prefer Your Carer To Be Regulated Or Unregulated?

Choosing a care at home service is a big decision. Like all important choices it helps to be as well informed as possible.

Perhaps the most basic choice is between a regulated and unregulated care provider. But people don’t always realise that this is a choice they’re making. Home help agencies don’t tend to describe themselves as ‘unregulated.’

So What’s The Difference Between Regulated And Unregulated Care?

Being a regulated care service means we are accountable to the Care Quality Commission. We have to meet defined standards and regulations that cover everything from how we run our business to the training expected for the staff who visit your home.

We are subject to regular inspections and you can find the results of these on the CQC website. The quality of the service we provide is independently verified and made public. We have to have procedures in place to ensure that people we care for aren’t at risk from neglect, harm or abuse.

‘Unregulated’ simply means that a provider isn’t registered with the CQC. They aren’t inspected or required to meet any particular standards beyond what is covered by general legal requirements.

What Care Do You Need?

Unregulated care providers can legally offer only a limited range of services such as cleaning, shopping and general help around the home. They cannot offer personal care.

It’s relatively easy for anyone to set up a company to offer general support around the home. Many unregulated providers simply act as agents who put you in touch with a home help who you then effectively employ.

Any provider offering personal care services such as help with dressing, washing, continence or any aspect of care that needs specialist knowledge such as nutrition or hydration must be regulated. If an organisation offers these services they must be able to show you evidence of their CQC registration.

As you can see, there are some important differences between what regulated and unregulated care services can do and how care standards are enforced.

If you have any questions we’d be delighted to help. Give Altogether Care a call 01305 300 161 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

You can also find a range of information and resources on our website https://altogethercare.co.uk/

Respite Care – Because Carers Also Need to Care for Themselves

Being a carer is an immense privilege and an opportunity to show genuine care and support to someone dear to you. However, it’s important to acknowledge that juggling multiple responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming. Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate the strain and ensure your own well-being.

Respite care offers a valuable solution without the need for prolonged separation or residential arrangements. Opting for a care at home service allows you to enjoy occasional breaks, whether it’s a day off or an evening of relaxation. It gives you time to take a break to recharge the batteries while ensuring your loved one receives the care they need.

Respite care doesn’t have to be residential and doesn’t have to be for an extended period. Day centres and local activity groups might also allow you to take a bit of time off from caring.

Summer is the time when most of us look forward to getting away for a holiday. There’s no reason why carers can’t enjoy a week or two in the sun. You probably deserve it.

Perhaps you could consider the possibility of a brief duration of respite care within a care home as an alternative option. This arrangement can prove beneficial for all involved. It provides your loved one with a chance to experience a different environment and take advantage of the companionship and social engagements available in our care homes.

Taking time for yourself and returning refreshed helps reenergise you as a carer, making the responsibilities of caregiving feel lighter and less burdensome. It is a crucial investment in your own well-being and the well-being of those you care for.

Paying for Respite Care

In some cases you might get financial help from the council towards the cost of respite care. This depends on the care needs assessment and means testing.

If you receive carer’s allowance, you can normally take a break of up to four weeks in any six month period without it affecting your entitlement.

The most important thing is to remember to take care of yourself. Your health and wellbeing are also important and you deserve a break as much as anyone else.

If you’d like to discuss your respite care options, give Altogether Care a call, visit our website, or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk.

Salisbury Domiciliary Care Branch Celebrates the King’s Coronation!

We are delighted to report that our Salisbury domiciliary care branch recently held a wonderful coronation celebration at Archers Court, the home of some of our private clients.

The attendees included Joyce Skinner, Sharon Fletcher, June Watts and Pamela Light, and our own FCS Sarah Davies and Registered manager Debbie Sheldon were there to help celebrate the occasion.

We all donned our finest red, white and blue Union flag hats in honour of the occasion and decorated the room with royal bunting, adding to the celebratory atmosphere. We also prepared cupcakes decorated with coronation flags and made coffee and tea for our clients. Sharon and June were especially proud of us, expressing their delight at how amazing and caring we all are.

The residents were so impressed, they have asked us to come back for another coffee morning!

It was a truly heart-warming experience to witness such a celebration of the coronation of King Charles, and it was a pleasure to make our clients feel special. We feel privileged to have been a part of this special event and look forward to more events like this in the future!

What Next for Care Costs?

Many people worry about the potential cost of personal care as they get older. Some are concerned that paying for the care they need will eat away their savings and assets and leave nothing to pass on to their children. Others worry whether they’ll be able to afford care costs at all.

While there are very real issues around the cost of care, sometimes the future isn’t as bleak as people assume. This quick summary of care cost funding will make sure you have accurate, up-to-date information for your financial planning.

Care Cost Cap

Before diving into the details we should look at the care cost cap that is scheduled to come into force in October 2023. The cap aims to ensure that no individual will pay more than £86,000 for personal care (either residential or care at home) during their lifetime.

A couple of points to note. Care costs incurred before the cap is introduced won’t count towards the total. Also, the cap doesn’t apply to the accommodation element of care home fees.

Care Needs Assessment

The process starts with a care needs assessment carried out by your local council. This is a formal statement of the personal care you need. Care not included in your assessment probably won’t be included in the care cost cap.

Means Testing

The financial support you get will be affected by your income, savings and other financial assets. Your property is included in the calculation only if you are going into residential care, and only then if you don’t have a spouse or dependent relative still living in your home. It may be possible to enter into an agreement with your local authority so that they recover your care costs from your estate after you die.

If you have capital worth more than £23,250 you will be expected to pay for all of your care costs (the upper capital limit). If your capital adds up to less than £14,250 the council will pay for your care costs. Between these two figures there’s a sliding scale for your contribution.

It’s planned for the upper capital limit to increase to £100,000 in 2025.

Hopefully this has helped to clarify the situation. If you have any questions about funding or any other aspect of care, please call Altogether Care on 01305 300 161, email contact@altogethercare.co.uk, visit our website or use our care calculator.

Start a Career Where Your Work is Appreciated

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

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

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

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

Work With People Who Enjoy What They Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Care Do You Need?

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

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

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

Try the Care Cost Calculator

For more information, contact us on 01305 300 161.

Care At Home, Coronavirus and the Future

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

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

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

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

How Has Covid-19 Changed Things?

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

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

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

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

Could Live-In Care Be Right For You?

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

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

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

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

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

What Does Live-In Care Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shared Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Care Staff: Among the Most Valuable Employees in the Country

The value of somebody’s work can’t always be measured in money. A better measure might be the positive impact people have on society and the lives of others. And if that’s the case, care staff must come out pretty near the top of the list.

Day-in, day-out we see just how much the work of our care teams mean to the people we care for. It isn’t just the care tasks they perform that help people cope a little better and get more enjoyment from life, it’s also the way they work – bringing positive interactions to people’s lives, making so much difference to wellbeing and health.

Is Your Job Worthwhile?

Care work isn’t easy, but it’s rarely dull and always rewarding. Let’s be honest, how many people can truly say that the work they do is worthwhile and making a difference? For everyone working in care, that’s the daily reality. The rewards are about much more than money.

We understand the value of the work that our people do. So, we try to give back as much as we can with a competitive salary, flexible working hours and professional development. Everyone is supported to grow their skills and their career.

Altogether Care staff enjoy additional benefits that not all care companies offer, including staff discounts, a generous mileage allowance, childcare vouchers, free mobile insurance and free Nero coffee.

Family Values

Altogether Care is a family-run business and we aim to make our employees feel part of a wider family. We have shared values and support each other to do the best job possible for our clients. And that’s what Altogether Care staff say is one of their favourite things about working at Altogether Care – the family atmosphere among all the staff and residents.

So, if you’re looking for more from your job than a pay packet, or if you’re in a care occupation and feeling under-appreciated, we’d love to talk to you. We currently have vacancies in our care homes in Dorset and our growing care at home teams in Dorset, South Somerset and Hampshire. For more information, contact us today by calling 01305 206140.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A Society Learning to Live with Dementia

Until somebody develops effective treatments to prevent or control dementia it is going to be an increasing fact of life for many of us. Not just for the estimated one million plus people who are expected to develop the condition in the UK by 2025, but also the many more people who will be affected as family, friends and carers.

There’s little doubt that the general population would benefit by understanding more about dementia. This can only help take away some of the fear and stigma that unfortunately still surround the condition. It can also help us to build a society and environment that are more dementia friendly.

One thing people often get confused about is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s. Technically, dementia is a syndrome. That means a group of symptoms that don’t necessarily have the same cause. In the case of dementia, the symptoms relate to reduced ability in areas such as memory and reasoning. Different people experience dementia in different ways.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. It is believed to account for between 50 and 70 percent of cases. Although recent research suggests that many people thought to have Alzheimer’s may, in fact, have a newly discovered type of dementia-related illness called limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, or Late.

Dementia can also result from other conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, and can be caused by strokes, vascular diseases, depression and chronic drug use.

Understanding Dementia

In many practical ways, the exact cause is less important than understanding how dementia can affect people’s ability to relate to the world and people around them, how it might affect their behaviour, and how best to make life for people with dementia more inclusive and less stressful. This can only come from greater knowledge and being more comfortable about discussing the issues that surround dementia.

Care homes that specialise in dementia care, such as Sherborne House in Dorset, will clearly have a greater role to play as the population ages and more people are affected. But we all have a part to play by being more understanding about a condition that a significant number of us will be affected by – directly or indirectly.

How Would You Know if Your Elderly Relative Needed Care Support?

Deciding when is the right time to have a conversation about care with an elderly relative can be a sensitive issue. For all of us, our ability levels will decline over time – that’s completely natural. What’s also natural is that many of us will resist any idea that we’re struggling to cope and that we need a bit of help. All of which means that we might miss the signs that our relative has a care need.

Here are a few signs that might indicate that it’s time for a serious talk and possibly a care needs assessment.

Declining Mobility

Mobility levels often drop off slowly so we don’t notice the change. Take a good look at how easy your relative finds it to do routine things like cleaning, shopping and walking. Are they struggling more than they need to?

Hygiene

If somebody takes less care over their appearance than they used to, it might mean that arthritis or some other physical condition makes tasks like laundry or washing themselves difficult or painful. It might also mean that they are getting forgetful, perhaps due to the early stages of dementia.

Missing Meals

Weight loss could be a sign that your relative isn’t able to prepare meals or may be forgetting to have them. Care at home support will help make sure that they maintain a good level of nutrition, which is essential for physical and mental wellbeing.

Changing Behaviour

Warning signs are when people become withdrawn, uncommunicative, angry, forgetful, confused or paranoid. These could indicate deteriorating mental health.

Medication Management

Confusion over what medication is a strong signal that care support may be necessary. Clearly, it’s important that prescribed medications are taken according to the instructions.

Financial Management

Financial problems and unpaid bills can be highly stressful in themselves. They can also be signs of failing memory and indicators of underlying mental health issues.

Injuries

Bruises, burns and other injuries can be some of the clearest signs that there are care issues that need to be looked at. It might be problems with balance, difficulty with cooking, memory loss or declining physical ability.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to remember that care isn’t about taking away independence. It’s about providing targeted support to help people stay safe and enjoy life as fully as possible.

Websites such as Age UK have plenty of useful information about different care options, costs and financial support. You can also contact the team at Altogether Care who will be happy to talk through the options available.

Care Staff Need Some TLC Too

National Carers Week 2019 runs this week, from 10th-16th June. The week quite rightly draws attention to the valuable work carried out by unpaid carers day in, day out, right across the country. The week also encourages carers to become better connected and mutually supportive.

The week brings the value of all types of care work into focus. In our field of elderly care, our teams help people continue to live independently in their own homes and enjoy safe and fulfilling retirement living. They are also there for the more challenging times such as delivering nursing care for people with complex health issues, helping people with dementia and ultimately helping them to experience a dignified and caring end to their life.

It’s not an easy job. And the rewards are definitely not financial ones. But it’s rewarding, nonetheless.

Care at home staff have the additional pressures of spending days travelling from one care user’s home to another. It can be busy but rewarding which is why we extend a warm welcome to any of our staff who need to call in at one of our centres for a refresh and refuel.

There’s a growing awareness of the importance of good mental health for all of us. The role played by the workplace and good employer support in promoting mental wellbeing is vital. It’s essential that in focusing on delivering the best possible care to our clients we never overlook the need to take care of our people.

Their work is all about caring for other people. To do this effectively they also have to take care of themselves. We work hard to create a supportive environment where people feel safe to speak up if they’re experiencing stress or anxiety, whether in their work or home life.

We believe that to deliver the best standards of care you need care staff who are happy, well-motivated and well looked after, which is the environment we always strive to maintain.

How to Talk About Care Needs with Someone You Love

Put yourself in the position of an older person who is starting to struggle with everyday tasks, or perhaps even experiencing the early stages of dementia. Facing up to the situation isn’t always easy. They may have spent their whole life being the person who gives advice and support to their family, they may always have been independent and proud.

Accepting the passage of time and that you need care is a difficult step and needs to be handled carefully. For family members, starting the conversation about care needs can be daunting. It can involve a sensitive role-reversal where you are suddenly expected to be the one giving the advice. There’s an understandable anxiety about how your loved one will react and, quite likely, questions about the cost of care.

Putting it off never helps

In 2016, the charity Independent Age commissioned research to investigate attitudes to conversations about care in later life. The study revealed a stark contrast between what we believe and what we do. 82% of the people in the survey said it was fairly or very important to talk to older relatives about ‘where they would like to live if they could no longer live at home’, but just 23% said they had done so.

Perhaps this was just a question of timing in some cases. But, for whatever reason, starting the conversation about care seems to be the hardest part.

Ultimately, your concern will be to ensure that your family member receives the care they need. You’re much more likely to achieve this without a major upset if you are prepared and well-informed.

How to have the conversation

Being an unpaid carer can sometimes leave you feeling exasperated because of a particular event. This is the worst possible time to start the conversation. You also don’t want to produce care home brochures ‘out of the blue,’ with no preparation.

First, you have to change your relative’s perceptions about their need for care and what care might mean. If they don’t accept that they need care or don’t think that their opinions are being respected it’s going to be a struggle to get them to consider anything.

Here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • Choose the time and the place carefully. Make sure that it’s not a time when either of you is likely to be tired or stressed and that the conversation can take as long as you need. Choose somewhere calm where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Be well informed. There are many care options including care at home, assisted living and care homes. Make sure you know what all of these entail, including costs.
  • Find out about possible financial support that might be available and what you need to do to access this.
  • Consider involving a friend or person that your relative respects so that there is an independent voice in the conversation.

Websites such as Age UK have plenty of useful information about different care options, costs and financial support. You can also contact the team at Altogether Care who will be happy to talk through your options and help you prepare to have the conversation with confidence.

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