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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.

The Modern Way to Deliver Care at Home

Mobile technology has revolutionised so many aspects of our work and lives. Our home care teams make many visits each day to multiple locations, so mobile technology is the logical way to support the work they do.

The Mobile Care Worker App we recently introduced supports our care teams at all points of service delivery. It means we can forget about completing paper forms and records during visits and focus more time on our care users.

The app guides our staff to each appointment using maps and directions. If there is anything they need to know to gain access, the app will tell them this also.

Once at the appointment, our staff check in automatically using their mobile phone. They can see an up-to-date checklist of the care tasks to be carried out and any other information about the service user that might be relevant. They can also be prompted to check whether medication has been taken and record any details that might help with adapting to the care plan to meet changing care needs.

More Efficient

Mobile Care Worker also helps us organise the care we provide more efficiently. Data is captured instantly from each visit due to staff being able to input information through the app rather than in the office. This means we spend less time entering data from paper forms and more time designing a better service to meet our customers’ needs.

We also spend less time designing visit rosters and can see instantly where all our mobile staff are. If it looks like they might be late for an appointment, we can let people know to reassure them that they haven’t been forgotten. Simpler rostering also makes it easier for us to ensure that people see the same care worker at every visit.

Mobile Care Worker provides another way to involve relatives in the care of their loved one, which can be very welcome if they don’t live locally. They can be given secure access to the system and be reassured that visits have taken place when scheduled. They can also be part of the discussion around designing the most appropriate care programme.

Technology will never take the place of personal interactions in the care delivery, but it can take care of all the things that help those interactions to be more effective.

If you or an elderly relative are starting to find basic household tasks a bit challenging, a care at home service might be just what’s needed to brighten life up. Contact us today on 01305 300161 to find out more or click here.

What Will More Technology in Care Mean for Service Users?

Like most walks of life, the care sector is experiencing technological change. The pace of change is likely to increase rather than decrease.

For some, more technology and automation conjures up an image of a world where social care becomes dehumanised, where conversations are with computer applications and chatbots rather than people. Or where a friendly robot takes care of domestic duties. We believe the reality will be very different, and much more human.

If we look at the technology we are currently using it actually creates more human interaction rather than less. It enhances personal care rather than replacing it.

Care staff use handheld PDA’s to make sure they have instant access to information about service users, their care plans and personal preferences, wherever they are working. Record keeping and observations such as food and drink intake are made in a few clicks.

Real Time Information and Enhanced Care

Care staff have better information to work with and have to spend less time updating or sharing it. Which leaves more time to talk and to develop relationships. Using real-time information enables the delivery of better-quality care that is more focused on the needs of each individual.

Relatives are able to access information for greater peace of mind and have an involvement in care where relevant.

On a grander scale, technology opens the way to even more advancements in care. Artificial intelligence and machine learning ought to do a better job of predicting and planning care needs within an area. Virtual Reality is already helping to improve wellbeing for dementia patients by allowing them to experience environments they knew from years ago.

Good social care has always been, and will always be, something that has human interaction and relationships at its core. Technology will not change this; it will enhance rather than replace those interactions. It will also bring the entire ‘team around the person’ closer together, which includes care staff, health professionals, family and carers.

For anyone interested in better quality, more personalised care, technology is something to be embraced rather than resisted.

To arrange a visit to one of our care homes to see how we are delivering better quality care focused on individual needs, contact us today on 01305 300 161.

Home Care Services in Southampton – Extending the Altogether Care Family

Care at home is a lifeline for many elderly people. Being able to receive help with tasks such as getting in and out of bed, washing, dressing and housework can make all the difference to people who need some assistive care but want to stay in their own home.

Knowing a trusted home care provider can make all the difference. Altogether Care has an established reputation for providing high quality residential and domiciliary care in Dorset and Somerset. We are driven by helping people to live as independently as possible. Building on this success, we are now able to offer the following care services in the Southampton area:

  • Personal Care,
  • Live-in Care,
  • Getting out and about,
  • Domestic support,
  • Sleeping/Waking night care,
  • Companionship and sitting service

We aim to help people continue to live life as independently as possible, with the reassurance that help is available through pre-arranged visits at times they choose. Just because everyday tasks are becoming a little more difficult, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your independence.

Extended Services

Staying in your own home might also mean that some help is needed with every day, non-care activities such as DIY, gardening and cleaning. To make life easier for our clients we’ve extended our services to include these tasks. Whatever support you need you can get it from one trusted organisation.

Being an established care provider means that we can carefully select and vet tradespeople who will understand your needs and be ideally suited to helping older people in their own homes.

In launching our Southampton office, we are bringing the same family-run, caring approach that has earned us an excellent reputation for in care for 30 years. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch with us on 02382 351 800 or visit our website.

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.

Some recent day to day activities