What it takes to be a Companion Carer

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By Jemima Vetha

Caring for elderly people is a role that requires many natural skills, skills that are not easily taught at College or at Training Courses. Empathy, patience, good listening and a cheerful attitude are a few key personality traits that are essential to provide meaningful support to an older person and to create a relevant and lasting relationship with them.

Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings and to put yourself in their shoes, whatever the situation. Older people might get worried or anxious about things that we consider irrelevant or unimportant. They might be feeling saddened or frustrated when physically unable to do something or to remember a name. It is very important for a carer to be compassionate and to be able to share, not dismiss, the older person’s worries, sadness or frustration and offer appropriate reassurance and emotional support.

Patience is an essential quality when supporting someone who might have become very slow through age and physical disability. Walking, eating or getting dressed can all turn into very long and time consuming activities. Even talking can be a difficult process. It is important not to rush elderly people through any of these activities and not to make them feel inadequate or embarrassed by trying to do things for them. A carer’s role is to promote a person’s independence through appropriate and dignified support.

An elderly person has many years of history behind them. In fact, they have a lot more life behind them than ahead of them. Their memories are very precious to them, they take them back to a time when they felt strong, able, loved and purposeful. A good carer has the willingness to listen carefully and actively to all the stories from the past, to hear about the people and events that coloured and filled their older client’s life: reminiscing is good for the soul of a person who feels that the happiest part of their life is gone.

And finally, a smile is the best gift you can bring into someone’s home! Being cheerful can turn around the mood and the whole day of the person you are looking after. Older people might live in a once busy house that is now empty and quiet, they might have a long, lonely day ahead of them and they might feel overwhelmed with aches, pains and worries. Going in with a smile and a positive attitude will without doubt lift their mood and brighten their day!

A carer, therefore, has the power to make a real difference in a vulnerable person’s life, simply by using and sharing their natural talents, in what is a very rewarding and undoubtedly enjoyable role!

Memory Book

Top 8 Tools To Help Older People Live Happily At Home

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Memory Book

Sometimes it can be the simplest of tools that can make all the difference


We recently asked our staff and clients to tell us about the products which have helped those they care for to live happily and independently at home. Here we detail their top 8 and why we’ve chosen them.

1. The Grabber Stick


A ‘must have’ item, the grabber stick is a great tool for reaching and grabbing anything, from taking clothes off the washing line to picking up a magazine from the coffee table. Grabber sticks are so popular in fact that they are often reported missing, borrowed by younger family members for their own use. Grabber sticks come in many shapes and sizes. They range in price from £5 to £25.


2. An Outdoor Keysafe


To some this may seem like an obvious item to make the list – but we are continually surprised by the number of families who are not aware of the concept. With a police rated outdoor keysafe, the keys for your loved one’s property can be safely stored and accessed by anyone with the code for the safe. They are easy to install and very discreet.

An outdoor keysafe avoids the risk and cost of making multiple key copies and removes the burden of remembering to take them with you. Now you can access your loved one’s home whenever you need to, allowing everyone to feel safe and secure. Keysafes cost around £60 – there are cheaper ones on the market but the police rated ones are the most secure.


3. Elephant Feet


Ensuring chairs and beds are at a comfortable height for getting in and out of is invaluable. Safer than a block of wood, elephant feet are quickly and easily placed under each leg of the furniture item raising it up by up to 10cm. Sometimes families might think they need to go out and buy new specialist chairs or beds, but why replace that much-loved armchair when you can raise it up for easier access. These charmingly name gadgets range from £10 – £20 for a pack of 4.


4. Big Button And Amplified Telephone


The Doro MemoryPlus ‘Photo Button’ phone is an award-winning landline telephone that has many features that help make it a very user-friendly phone for people living with dementia. The cover supplied with the phone can hide all the buttons except the 4 photo-buttons & the volume control. This can help reduce confusion for people with impaired memory. In addition it has large, easy to press buttons, is hearing aid compatible and can ring up to 91db!


5. Extra Loud Flashing Door Bell


With an extra loud ring and a flashing light, there are plenty of wireless doorbell kits on the market for people who have trouble hearing their doorbell. These range in price from £10 – £40 and over (if you want all the bells and whistles – no pun intended!)


6. Full Page Magnifiying Window


The full page magnifying window functions like a conventional magnifying glass but its size and shape mean that someone with impaired vision can read an entire page without moving the glass. Ideal for reading small print, maps and documents, simply place the full page magnifier over the small text you’re trying to read and you’ll see it all clearly without having to move your hand along the text.


7. Indoor Trolley


The trusted companion of millions of older people across the UK, an indoor trolley is typically made from durable steel with removable shelves and wheels. The lower tray is usually set forward so it does not interfere with the feet when walking, and both trays have raised lips to help prevent items from rolling away and to contain small spills. The trolley handles are always height adjustable for maximum comfort, whilst large wheels ensure it is easy to move and position, giving a safe and secure way to move hot drinks or meals and household items safely around the home. Indoor trollies range in price from around £40 – £60.


8. Memory Books And Boxes


Creating a memory book or box can really help a loved one living with dementia to remember things. This can not only be a hugely enjoyable family exercise but is also very soothing for an older person who may worry that they have forgotten certain things about their past. It can take the form of a history of a person’s past life experiences or a book of prized memories. It can be used as a distraction technique for refocusing during difficult symptoms and can promote a sense of wellbeing and a celebration of life. Of course, a memory book can be made from any old jotters of photo albums you have lying around, or you can buy a nicely formatted memory book to help inspire you and give you a starting point.


DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright © 2017 Bright Care


Image © Copyright Joanna Kosinska via Unsplash. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Paying For Care

Paying For Care: 5 Step How To Guide

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Paying For Care

The prospect of paying for care can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be


Many of us think that all of the costs are covered by the state when paying for care, while others fear having to sell their homes to do so. We have debunked the myths and collated our experience in an easy to follow 5 step guide to help you when paying for care.

1. Research Residential Care Costs, Care At Home Costs & Financial Assistance


The idea that ‘all care is free’ is a highly misleading myth which is inadvertently perpetuated by the media and the government.

Before you start speaking to care providers it is helpful to have an understanding of what care usually costs and any financial assistance you may be entitled to. Most local authorities have Welfare Rights Advisers you can access, and Citizens Advice should be also able to give you information – however family solicitors or financial advisors may not always know the answer to this question.

In Scotland personal care (assistance with getting washed and dressed, meal preparation and medication prompting) is free to everyone over 65 who has been assessed by the local authority as requiring it. Nursing care is also free to people of any age who have been assessed by the local authority as requiring it.

The cost of care homes can range from £800 to £2000 per week, depending on quality and location. At the higher end of this scale you would typically encounter high quality care homes which only accept self-funding clients, making them inaccessible to clients funded by the local authority.


Residential Care Home Costs


The cost of care homes can be roughly broken down into three parts:

  • “Hotel” costs account for about 70% of care home costs and include food, services etc. These are only paid by the local authority if the resident has assets totalling less than £26,000 – these days that does not apply to very many people, particularly if they own their own home.
  • Personal care comprises around 20% of care home costs and in Scotland, these costs are always paid for by the local authority regardless of someone’s wealth – providing the local authority has assessed that the resident is in need of personal care. These costs are not covered in England, hence political calls for ‘capping care fees.’
  • Nursing care accounts for around 10% of the overall care home costs and this is paid out of the NHS budget. It covers the medical aspects of care requiring fully qualified nurses such as injections and the administration of medications. Again an assessment would be required to qualify for local authority cover of this cost.

Remember that if the state is paying for your care, you have to accept whatever they provide. If you are self-funding, the control and choice remains with you.


Care At Home Costs


The cost of care at home usually works out at £20-£30 per hour and can be broken down into two parts:

  • Personal care usually accounts for around 25% of care at home costs. These costs can sometimes be reclaimed from the local authority in the form of a direct payment made to you in order to pay your chosen service provider, or you can opt for the council to deliver this service to you – however you will be at their mercy as to the frequency, timing and length of their visits.
  • Quality of life activities and tasks often form the bulk (up to 75%) of care at home costs. These include companionship, socialisation, attending appointments and household tasks. These are often the aspects of a person’s life that family and friends would take care of, but for someone who does not have loved ones to assist or living locally, or who may be suffering from dementia, they may need a lot of support in this area.

The main benefit of care at home is that you have the freedom to tailor a package to meet your exact needs, meaning that you only pay for what you need.


2. Prepare For The Impact Of Care On Family Relations


Given the substantial costs associated with good quality care, money can drive a wedge between family members and influence decisions.

It is a sad fact that money can cause friction between even the closest of relations, even when paying for care. Therefore to ensure stable and hassle free care in your later years, you should be pragmatic about the potential impact on familial relationships.

Different family members may have differing opinions on how a loved one should be cared for. Disagreements can occur if one family member feels they are shouldering more of the burden or responsibility, which can impact on them both emotionally and financially.

Seek out quality legal advice as early as possible to discuss how you wish to be cared for in your old age or in the event that you lose the legal capacity to make decisions for yourself. A power of attorney which clearly sets out how you wish to be cared for and who will bear the responsibility for implementing your wishes is essential.

You should also consider involving a trusted solicitor who would be able to intervene, in a neutral and emotionally detached way, should familial relations breakdown – ensuring that there will always be someone to act only in your best interests and according to your pre-agreed instructions.


The key thing to remember is that the elderly client’s wishes should be at the centre of all care arrangements.


3. Beware Of ‘Care Bonds’ And Care Insurance Policies


In our view, the financial services industry has not yet fully understood or built products for the financial impact of care fees in later life.

There are some products on the market, like long-term care insurance policies, that guarantee a payout after a period of time and effectively limit the amount you would ever have to pay. As with all insurance policies however, getting them to actually pay out is not always straightforward.

Many older people never actually need care or support at all. Therefore you might not get value for money from a policy you paid into for 30 years and never claimed against.

Specialist financial advisers are now emerging onto the market offering personalised investment advice on paying for care in the future, which can be money well spent in the long run.


4. Beware Of ‘Deprivation Of Asset’ Schemes


When you gift your estate to your children in order to make yourself appear below the threshold for statutory care fee assistance, this is considered ‘deprivation of assets.’ Some people may decide to put all of their assets into a trust which is protected from a financial assessment.


In our view, the deprivation of assets is a grave mistake for three critical reasons:

  1. If you appear to have no money, your care arrangements will be at the mercy of the state. All choice and control is removed and you will not be able to stay in your own home – you will be sent to a care home of the council’s choosing should your needs warrant this.

  2. If you are going to live in a care home and intentionally deprive yourself of a capital asset so that you pay less of your care home fees, the council may assess that asset as still being yours. This is known as notional capital. If you are assessed as having capital you don’t actually possess, you will be charged accordingly. The outcome of this may be that the council decides not to fund your care home fees.

    The council can’t refuse to provide someone with the care they need because they have notional capital. They have a statutory duty to meet the care needs that the person is assessed as having. They can however assess the charge payable using your notional income and will try to recover the charge from you or seek to transfer the liability for the charges.

    Defending such court actions to recoup fees can rumble on even long after someone has died and cost many thousands of pounds. It is likely that we will see more cases like this being raised over the next 30 years, as local council social care budgets continue to decrease and the demand for care increases.


  3. If you divest yourself of an asset in such a manner, remember that should there be a breakdown in familial relations, your “unofficial” access to that asset may be jeopardised. For instance a divorce between a child and their spouse might result in the transferred asset being classed as matrimonial property and the value being split between the divorcing couple accordingly.


5. Get Specialist Advice On Paying For Care


Though you are not obliged to get professional advice when choosing how to finance your long-term care, you need to lay out your entire financial situation on the table and analyse how it will shape up over the next 30 years. This includes every need, wish and want you have – even the bucket list!

A specialist care fees adviser has in depth understanding of the care sector and its associated costs, helping you to compare all your options before deciding which one is right for you. They will also explain all the costs and risks involved with each product.

You should also consult with a solicitor specialised in private client law. They will give you tailored support, like drafting your will or power of attorney, and also provide practical advice on matters such as downsizing to a smaller property, setting aside trust funds for children and grandchildren, and inheritance tax planning.


Though planning financially for care can feel daunting, it is a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor. Please contact our team to discuss the costs of care at home.


DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright © 2017 Bright Care


Image © Copyright Wilfred Iven via StockSnap.io. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Paying For Care: 5 Step How To Guide

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Understanding how to fund the very best care for your elderly loved one can feel overwhelming. Many of us think that all of the costs are covered by the state, while others fear having to sell their homes to pay for care. We have debunked the myths and collated our experience in an easy to follow 5 step guide, helping you to figure out how to pay for care.

Research the Costs of Care and Financial Assistance Available

 

The idea that ‘all care is free’ is a highly misleading myth which is inadvertently perpetuated by the media and the government.

Before you start speaking to care providers it is helpful to have an understanding of what care usually costs and any financial assistance you may be entitled to. Most local authorities have Welfare Rights Advisers you can access, and Citizens Advice should be also able to give you information – however family solicitors or financial advisors may not always know the answer to this question.

In Scotland personal care (assistance with getting washed and dressed, meal preparation and medication prompting) is free to everyone over 65 who has been assessed by the local authority as requiring it. Nursing care is also free to people of any age who have been assessed by the local authority as requiring it.

The cost of care homes can range from £800 to £2000 per week, depending on quality and location. At the higher end of this scale you would typically encounter high quality care homes which only accept self-funding clients, making them inaccessible to clients funded by the local authority.

 

Residential Care Home Costs

The cost of care homes can be roughly broken down into three parts:

  • “Hotel” costs account for about 70% of care home costs and include food, services etc. These are only paid by the local authority if the resident has assets totalling less than £26,000 – these days that does not apply to very many people, particularly if they own their own home.
  • Personal care comprises around 20% of care home costs and in Scotland, these costs are always paid for by the local authority regardless of someone’s wealth – providing the local authority has assessed that the resident is in need of personal care. These costs are not covered in England, hence political calls for ‘capping care fees.’
  • Nursing care accounts for around 10% of the overall care home costs and this is paid out of the NHS budget. It covers the medical aspects of care requiring fully qualified nurses such as injections and the administration of medications. Again an assessment would be required to qualify for local authority cover of this cost.

Remember that if the state is paying for your care, you have to accept whatever they provide. If you are self-funding, the control and choice remains with you.

Care At Home Costs

The cost of care at home usually works out at £20-£30 per hour and can be broken down into two parts:

  • Personal care usually accounts for around 25% of care at home costs. These costs can sometimes be reclaimed from the local authority in the form of a direct payment  made to you in order to pay your chosen service provider, or you can opt for the council to deliver this service to you – however you will be at their mercy as to the frequency, timing and length of their visits.
  • Quality of life activities and tasks often form the bulk (up to 75%) of care at home costs. These include companionship, socialisation, attending appointments and household tasks. These are often the aspects of a person’s life that family and friends would take care of, but for someone who does not have loved ones to assist or living locally, or who may be suffering from dementia, they may need a lot of support in this area.

The main benefit of care at home is that you have the freedom to tailor a package to meet your exact needs, meaning that you only pay for what you need.

 

Prepare For The Impact of Care on Family Relations

Given the substantial costs associated with good quality care, money can drive a wedge between family members and influence decisions.

It is a sad fact that money can cause friction between even the closest of relations. Therefore to ensure stable and hassle free care in your later years, you should be pragmatic about the potential impact on familial relationships.

Different family members may have differing opinions on how a loved one should be cared for. Disagreements can occur if one family member feels they are shouldering more of the burden or responsibility, which can impact on them both emotionally and financially.

Seek out quality legal advice as early as possible to discuss how you wish to be cared for in your old age or in the event that you lose the legal capacity to make decisions for yourself. A power of attorney which clearly sets out how you wish to be cared for and who will bear the responsibility for implementing your wishes is essential.

You should also consider involving a trusted solicitor who would be able to intervene, in a neutral and emotionally detached way, should familial relations breakdown – ensuring that there will always be someone to act only in your best interests and according to your pre-agreed instructions.

The key thing to remember is that the elderly client’s wishes should be at the centre of all care arrangements.

 

Beware of “Care Bonds” and Care Insurance Policies

In our view, the financial services industry has not yet fully understood or built products for the financial impact of care fees in later life.

There are some products on the market, like long-term care insurance policies, that guarantee a payout after a period of time and effectively limit the amount you would ever have to pay. As with all insurance policies however, getting them to actually pay out is not always straightforward.

Many older people never actually need care or support at all. Therefore you might not get value for money from a policy you paid into for 30 years and never claimed against.

Specialist financial advisers are now emerging onto the market offering personalised investment advice on how to best plan for meeting future care costs, which can be money well spent in the long run.

 

Beware of ‘Deprivation of Asset’ Schemes

When you gift your estate to your children in order to make yourself appear below the threshold for statutory care fee assistance, this is considered ‘deprivation of assets.’ Some people may decide to put all of their assets into a trust which is protected from a financial assessment.

In our view, the deprivation of assets is a grave mistake for three critical reasons.

Firstly, if you appear to have no money, your care arrangements will be at the mercy of the state. All choice and control is removed and you will not be able to stay in your own home – you will be sent to a care home of the council’s choosing should your needs warrant this.

Secondly, if you are going to live in a care home and intentionally deprive yourself of a capital asset so that you pay less of your care home fees, the council may assess that asset as still being yours. This is known as notional capital.

If you are assessed as having capital you don’t actually possess, you will be charged accordingly. The outcome of this may be that the council decides not to fund your care home fees.

The council can’t refuse to provide someone with the care they need because they have notional capital. They have a statutory duty to meet the care needs that the person is assessed as having. They can however assess the charge payable using your notional income and will try to recover the charge from you or seek to transfer the liability for the charges.

Defending such court actions to recoup fees can rumble on even long after someone has died and cost many thousands of pounds. It is likely that we will see more cases like this being raised over the next 30 years, as local council social care budgets continue to decrease and the demand for care increases.

Thirdly, if you divest yourself of an asset in such a manner, remember that should there be a breakdown in familial relations, your “unofficial” access to that asset may be jeopardised. For instance a divorce between a child and their spouse might result in the transferred asset being classed as matrimonial property and the value being split between the divorcing couple accordingly.

 

 Get Specialist Care Fees Advice

Though you are not obliged to get professional advice when choosing how to finance your long-term care, you need to lay out your entire financial situation on the table and analyse how it will shape up over the next 30 years. This includes every need, wish and want you have – even the bucket list!

A specialist care fees adviser has in depth understanding of the care sector and its associated costs, helping you to compare all your options before deciding which one is right for you. They will also explain all the costs and risks involved with each product.

You should also consult with a solicitor specialised in private client law. They will give you tailored support, like drafting your will or power of attorney, and also provide practical advice on matters such as downsizing to a smaller property, setting aside trust funds for children and grandchildren, and inheritance tax planning.

Though planning financially for care can feel daunting, it is a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor. Please contact our team to discuss the costs of care at home.

 

Signs Of Decline

How To Spot Signs Of Decline In A Loved One

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Spot Signs of Decline

There are many small signs of decline which might signal the need for extra help if spotted in an elderly loved one. It is vitally important to take action if you see these signs. Below are a few key things to look for:

1. Daily Tasks

Signs of decline in daily tasks include difficulty dressing, eating, cooking, climbing steps, driving or managing medications. Read more on older people and driving.


2. Hygiene And Appearance

Self-care tasks which maybe signal a problem include infrequent bathing or reduced efforts in personal appearance.


3. Household Responsibilities

Unopened mail, papers pilling up, unpaid bills, phone calls not returned, low food supply, unkempt home interior and/or exterior, laundry piling up, spilling and dropping things (check carpet for stains) and keeping curtains drawn, all signal signs of decline.


4. Health

Signs of decline in overall health include weight loss, changes in appetite, problems swallowing, fatigue, burns, black and blue marks (possible signs of falling), hearing loss (look for signs of lip reading and talking loudly), withdrawn without reason, complaints of muscle weakness, insomnia, excessive sleeping or dehydration.


5. Isolation

Reduced interest in outside friendships, talking, activities or hobbies all signal a problem.


6. Attitude

When our loved ones are less happy in themselves, talk of being depressed or having feelings of despair, are unusually argumentative or have recently experienced an emotional or medical crisis, we may consider these signs of decline.


7. Cognitive Function

Signs of decline in cognitive function include consistent forgetfulness about where things are, getting lost whilst walking or driving, confusion or loss of reasoning skills, forgetting to close windows, turn off the stove or lock doors and loss of sense of time.


DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright © 2017 Bright Care

Image © Copyright Jiří Wagner via Unsplash. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Days Out Edinburgh Castle

Days Out And Entertainment For Your Loved One

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Days Out Edinburgh Castle

Finding the right place to take your elderly loved doesn’t have to be a challenge

 

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite places in Edinburgh and Glasgow that are accessible to older people or people with mobility issues. Many are also “dementia friendly” and can offer additional support to visitors with dementia and their companions. Don’t forget to check out our top tips for days out for loved ones with dementia.

Edinburgh Castle

Reasons We Like It:

  • Historic Environment Scotland has taken great strides in making the historic fortress accessible to people with limited mobility.
  • Blue Badge parking is available on the esplanade when booked in advance by telephone, as is the shuttle bus service which can accommodate a wheelchair if required.
  • Although you will need to be mindful of walking or pushing a wheelchair on the cobbles, particularly in wet weather, there is good access to many of the castle’s main attractions and accessible toilets, café’s and shops within the castle grounds.

 

Royal Yacht Britannia

Reasons We Like It:

  • There are lifts and ramps throughout the yacht so most of the tour is accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Some areas are not accessible for some electric wheelchairs, but you can borrow a regular one for free from the visitor centre.
  • The tearoom caters for special dietary requirements.
  • You can park for free at Ocean Terminal.
  • Other features include disabled toilets, audio tour handsets, sign language tablets, disabled parking and wheelchair hire.
  • Assistance dogs are welcome.

 

The Scotch Whisky Experience

Reasons We Like It:

  • You can enjoy a 90-minute tour around a replica distillery and view the world’s largest whisky collection in a spacious complex with good wheelchair access.
  • There is a lift to all areas of the building and a wheelchair which can be borrowed free of charge.
  • The Amber Restaurant caters for dietary requirements.
  • Other features include disabled toilet, audio tour handset in 18 languages, British Sign Language and American Sign Language (coming soon).
  • Assistance dogs welcome.
  • Carers are admitted for free and concessionary rates are applied to those they are caring for.
  • Specialist assistance with planning visits – contact to arrange.
  • Full access guide and accessibility information available.

 

Glasgow Clydebank Museum

Reasons We Like It:

  • Permanent exhibitions celebrating Clydebank’s proud industrial heritage sit alongside exciting temporary galleries in a building that is fully accessible for wheelchair users.
  • The Singer Sewing Machine collection was awarded the ‘Recognised Collection of National Significance’ by Museums Galleries Scotland in 2013.
  • Our Companion Carers report that there are very helpful staff on hand, together with plenty of disabled facilities, along with a museum shop and café.

 

Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Reasons We Like It:

  • Kelvingrove is one of Glasgow’s most loved architectural jewels. It has excellent facilities and services.
  • Some members of staff have been trained in basic British Sign Language. All audio-visual presentations within the galleries can have subtitles where required.
  • There is free disabled parking and assistance dogs are welcome – they even provide water and bowls for our furry friends.
  • The museum has lifts to all floors and each floor has accessible toilets with adult changing facilities.
  • The entire gallery is wheelchair accessible. All cases and interactive displays are at an accessible height for wheelchair users.
  • Wheelchairs are available at reception for visitors to use.

 

Summerlee Museum Of Scottish Industrial Life

Reasons We Like It:

  • Sunny Coatbridge nestles between Glasgow and Edinburgh and is well worth a visit. It received a £10m overhaul in 2008 and now has an exhibition hall that is fully wheelchair accessible.
  • Visitors can take a ride on tram that is wheelchair accessible, experience a mine tour, reminisce along miners row and finish the day off with a cup of tea in the café and a look around the gift shop.
  • You can even take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the canal. You should note that only assistance dogs are permitted.

 

Image © Copyright Curtis Partridge via Unsplash. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Dementia Days Out

Days Out For Loved Ones With Dementia: Our Top Tips

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Days Out For Dementia Sufferers

The thought of taking an elderly person or a person suffering from dementia doesn’t need to be daunting


Where should you go? Will they enjoy it? Will there be sufficient facilities? Is the venue accessible? These are all very valid concerns and things that should be considered when planning days out for dementia sufferers. Often the stress of planning such an outing can be off-putting enough to not attempt it in the first place. The importance and benefit of such days out however cannot be over-stated. With a little advanced planning and preparation there is no reason why you can’t plan a day out with a loved one that you will both enjoy.

1. Choose The Right Venue


A place’s suitability is of the utmost importance to ensure a successful day out. Not only must it be suitably engaging, but it should have all the facilities that will meet the practical needs of your loved one. We would recommend doing your research and looking for places that are advertised as “dementia friendly” or simply have sufficient disabled facilities that will ensure that your loved one will not be unable to enjoy the whole experience due to accessibility issues. The internet has a wealth of information on such places, and we have compiled a short list of some of our favourites for inspiration.

If possible, you should pay a visit to the proposed venue in advance to identify any issues that may cause issues on the day e.g. is parking quite far away, is the walk too steep an incline, or is it simply too popular an attraction and the large crowds may prove to be too distressing?

If you can’t pay a visit in person, then you should give the venue a call, as many attractions will have additional services that may available to you that have not been advertised on their website, for example, they may be able to arrange for a member of staff to greet you, and arrange for a quiet table and prioritisation of your order in a café, or will be able to advise on special exhibitions or dementia friendly days that may be of interest. Some venues will offer discounts for carers, have wheelchairs that you can hire for the day or enhance your day out with hands-on experiences that aren’t widely advertised.


2. Manage Your Expectations


You should be realistic about what your day will look like and manage your expectations accordingly. Visting a museum for instance will likely be at a much slower pace than is normal for you. It is important to plan a day which is flexible and relaxed to avoid disappointment and allow enough contingency time. Remember the best part of your loved one’s day will likely be having you all to themselves for an extended period of time, as opposed to the things you see and do.


3. Go Outdoors


The typical Scottish weather may lead you to plan an indoor activity so as not to be interrupted by rain, hail or snow! However a successful day can also be outdoors. In fact nutritionist Lorraine McCreary recommends sun and fresh air as part of a healthy lifestyle. With suitable outerwear and shoes, and a Plan B in case the weather gets really bad, most people can enjoy fresh air and nature in a safe way. Activities can include guided walks around parks or woodlands, or even something a bit more adventurous…


4. Plan, Plan and Plan Some More


Ensure you have a plan A and plan B in case circumstances change on the day. Plan your journey and timings in advance, including sufficient rest stops. If possible, use a sat -nav that can re-direct you in the event of road closures or heavy traffic. If you do not have a sat-nav, the google-maps mobile phone app is an excellent resource. Make sure that the car is stocked with water and fuelled up and ready to go before you head off. Be aware of school holidays or popular events nearby so as to ensure that you will not be encountering loud, disorientating crowds.


5. Be Prepared


Think ahead as to what your loved one might want or need on the day, as well as what you will need to ensure that your day goes smoothly.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Tickets for your venue – pre-booked if possible to avoid long queues
  • Money – cash and credit card
  • Map or sat-nav for route
  • Radar key for disabled access to toilets
  • Blue Badge
  • Ample food and water
  • Identity cards/photos, for pockets
  • Regular prescription medication
  • Mobile phone (fully charged) with emergency contact numbers stored
  • Suitable footwear and a change of clothes
  • Umbrellas and rain coats or hat, gloves and scarves OR, if you are lucky, sun hats and sun tan lotion!
  • Camera/camera phone or camcorder

You should also consider your own needs, and how these will impact your loved one, for example if you need to use the bathroom facilities, can they be left on their own?  Do you have any health concerns of your own that would warrant perhaps inviting someone else along to help you?


6. Make Memories


Try to relax and enjoy the day and quality time with your loved one. If possible take pictures to keep in a memory book. Not only will it be a nice memento of a lovely day out, but it will also be a good reference to look back for inspiration for future trips to remember places that you liked.


Hopefully this guide will give you the confidence to plan a great day out for yourself and a loved one, but if you are still unsure, why not speak to us about your Companion Carer coming along too to give you a bit of support?


DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright © 2017 Bright Care


Image © Copyright Cathal Mac an Bheatha via Pixabay. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Prepare For Care

How to Prepare for the Care of an Elderly Relative

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Prepare For Care

We recently asked the sons and daughters of our elderly clients for their top tips on how to prepare for care of an elderly relative


What came through clearly was the need to prepare for care needs of an elderly relative, years in advance. Read more on spotting the signs of decline.

The care needs of elderly parents often creep up on us. Before we know it we find ourselves in the thick of trying to work our lives around caring for an elderly family member. Waiting to plan for care until a crisis situation occurs is always a bad idea. Here are top tips from members of the BrightCare family:

Tip 1 – Open The Conversation As Early As Possible


In this country we often don’t like to talk about things like care, particularly if an elderly parent is in good health and spirits. Sometimes older people can view a need for care in their life as a negative development.

It is important to understand that avoiding open and honest conversations about care in later life may have negative consequence further down the line. Taking time to establish your loved one’s personal wishes ensures that their expectations become reality. A few areas that need to be addressed include:

  • Housing: what is the suitability of their current home should their mobility decrease?
  • Support: is there a good network of family and friends nearby?
  • Responsbility: which family members are best placed to provide practical support?
  • Finance: what will the costs be and what is our means to pay as a family?


Tip 2 – Research Care Long Before You Need It


In the event of an unexpected crisis, you want to be able to make the best decisions. Without having done your research in advance, you may find yourself opting for a care arrangement that is less than ideal.

For instance, if an elderly loved is admitted to hospital following a fall, it is likely that they will be unable to leave until they have suitable care arrangements in place. Often poor choices are made in a frantic effort just to get them home, which would result in increased relationship pressures and a heavier burden on family members.

The majority of care is delivered by private providers, all of whom can be researched online. Once you have decided whether you are looking for in-home care or a care home, you should then start looking at the services in your area:

  • Recommendations: Ask locally for recommendations.
  • Search Online: Search local care providers online.
  • Shortlist: Create a shortlist of the companies that provide the services you require.
  • Check Reports: Check their latest report on the Care Inspectorate website.
  • Read Reviews: Look for any reviews and testimonials they have.
  • Call Providers: Call providers to ask questions. Read more on the questions you should ask a care provider.


Tip 3 – Start Small And Early With Formal Routine Help


Ease elderly parents into the idea of having care in place over a long period of time. This might include arranging a part-time cleaner or companion to help with shopping or activities. Having a long-term weekly routine is important here. You might be able to persuade your loved one to accept some temporary help if you are going away, explaining that having someone to help will give you peace of mind.

The value of human interactions your loved one can have with non-family members should not be underestimated. Someone who is removed from familial life can be better placed to take situations moment by moment. As there is no history, the relationship can be a refreshing and liberating experience for older people. Getting used to new faces now will also lay foundations for the years ahead when more support in the home might be required.


Tip 4 – Get Your Finances In Order


Families who have effective care arrangements in place may worry that they are unable to sustain the ongoing financial costs. Having accurate knowledge of care costs and the support you may receive from the state will enable you to plan financially. Read more on how to plan financially for care.


Tip 5 – Grow A Thick Skin


We are honoured to serve a proud elderly generation, but often we find that they are (rightly) protective of their independence and so reluctant to accept help. Be prepared to face resistance from a loved one if you suggest that they might need help.

We all want the very best care for our elderly loved ones. They have raised and cared for us, so we want to repay and honour them with our commitment to their fulfilment in later life, according to their wishes. However sometimes, particularly if relations with a loved one are strained, these admirable intentions can be met with some resistance.


Tip 6 – Ensure Healthy Life Balance For You And Your Loved One


It is vital to set some boundaries in your role as care ‘manager’ for a loved one. Burnout and high levels of stress whilst caring for a loved one are very common. Many people fail to realise the impact it can have on them and their own lives.

Give consideration to how you need to balance you and your family’s needs with the needs of your loved one. Set realistic expectations of what you will be able to do yourself. It is simply not possible to do everything alone.


Tip 7 – Set Realistic Social Work Expectations


For many families there is a lot of ‘mystery’ surrounding what the social work department provides for older people. Confusion often reigns because people mistakenly think all social care is provided for free to everyone. These days care from social work is very limited and will often not be fully suitable for your loved one’s needs.

Given the limited finances that social work has, relying on its services can be a frustrating experience and significantly reduce your sense of choice and control. If you have the financial means to pay for your own care, social work is generally best avoided, at least until you know exactly what you want a care arrangement to look like. Read more about 5 common misunderstands about direct payments.


Tip 8 – Accept Needs As They Change


The ever-changing needs of an elderly loved one can leave you feeling like you are not always on top of things. Sometimes this loss of control can make you feel guilty that you are not able to do more to help.

The day to day reality of caring for elderly loved ones is that we need to respond to their unpredictably changing needs quickly and efficiently. Families often face the uncertainty of not knowing how long a care solution will work for or whether a loved one may take a turn for the worse, potentially throwing an otherwise stable situation into chaos.

We know that families crave the peace of mind that comes with knowing a loved one is in good, capable and professional hands. We strive to give you that sense of, ‘with Sarah here, everything is going to be alright for Mum.’

Honest conversations with family and care professionals about what is working and what is not is crucial. ‘Saying it as it is’ is an essential component of care working well and keeping relationships strong.


DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright © 2017 Bright Care


Image © Copyright Thomas Hafeneth via Unsplash. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Elderly Nutrition

A Brief Guide to Good Nutrition for Elderly People

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Nutrition For Elderly People

As we move through the decades of life our nutritional requirements change


The degree of change will be driven by lifestyle, nature, genetics and to some extent, luck. The way in which we have lived throughout our lives will also have an impact. Taking these factors into account allows us to make good choices and provide our bodies with the right balance of energy and nutrients.

As with the general population, older people come in many shapes and sizes, however each decade exerts its influence. Moving into our 70s, 80s and 90s warrants a heightened awareness of what we really need and what nutrients will be beneficial.

The Importance Of Protein In Old Age

As we age we require less energy in the form of calories, but more protein. It is important to choose lean meats, fish, chicken and dairy (or vegetarian equivalent of tofu, beans or pulses) and ensure that these are part of each meal. These sources of high quality protein will provide valuable B vitamins, iron and folate – all of which are often deficient in older adults. Remember that milk also provides protein. If you are underweight try using the full cream fortified version at the end of this article, adding it to soups, puddings, jelly, sauces, cereals etc.


The Importance Of Vitamin D In Old Age

Vitamin D is vital for bone health and not naturally found in many foods. Fish, eggs, meat, fortified breads and cereals provide varying amounts of vitamin D. Oily fish in particular, will also provide anti-inflammatory Omega 3 oils and Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is prolific in the UK amongst the ageing population, so it is advisable to speak with your GP and (if necessary) have a 10microgram Vitamin D supplement prescribed.


How To Manage A Reduced Appetite

Reduced appetite in old age can occur naturally or be the result of illness or medication. It is important to reduce the bulky dietary elements that fill you up and focus on the nutrient-rich parts of your meals – proteins (meat, fish, egg, cheese), vegetables and fruits. The starchy potatoes, rice or pasta will just fill you up quickly and not provide many nutrients, vitamins or minerals.

 

7 Quick Tips To Improve Elderly Nutrition

1. Enjoy small, frequent, nutrient-rich meals

2. Have a varied vegetable and fruit intake

3. Eat both oily and white fish (maximum of two portions oily fish per week)

4. Use fortified bread and cereals to boost Iron and vitamins B and D

5. Ensure you consume more protein and less bulky carbs

6. Get out in the sun and fresh air

7. A little bit of what you fancy does you good – enjoy your food!


Fortified Milk Recipe For Elderly Nutrition

Boost the nutrients in your milk intake by adding two to four tablespoons of dried milk powder to 1 pint of full cream milk. This can then be used in cereals, sauces, drinks, puddings and soups.


About The Author: Lorraine McCreary

RD BSc MBDA MRSPH TEFL

Lorraine is the Clinical Director for Diet Scotland and is also an Eating Disorders Specialist Dietitian with the multidisciplinary ED Psychological Services and Dietetics team for NHS Lanarkshire. Lorraine is available for private consultations on any dietary concerns that you may have for yourself or a loved one, and can be contacted via the details below:

Tel: 01698 852 181 | Mob: 07791509125

Email: lorrainemccreary@dietscotland.com

Visit: www.dietscotland.com


DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright © 2017 Bright Care

Image © Copyright Brooke Lark via Unsplash. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Resources for those caring for someone

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Whether you are a professional carer, or are an unpaid carer looking after a loved one, there is no doubt that it can often feel quite isolating and overwhelming when trying to find information to help you deliver the best possible care.

There is a plethora of external resources out there that can assist care workers in their role – if you know where to look!

Bright Care’s Own Resources

Bright Care provides continuous learning and development opportunities to our staff, and we are happy to open up our considerable resources to our clients and their families to help and support them on a practical basis.

  1. In House Training.  We have a dedicated Training Manager and our in-house training facilities are fully equipped with all the latest presentation and moving and handling equipment to allow us to deliver both theoretical and practical training.
  2. In House Library. Each of our offices have an information library with a range of resources with information on various subjects and medical conditions that often affect older people.  These resources are open to both our staff and our clients and their families.   We even have our own Our ‘Bright Care Cook Book’ which contains many simple recipes and menu ideas for care workers and staff.
  3. Specialised Specific Issue Training. We often run smaller face-to-face training sessions and tutorials on specific issues of care that may not have been addressed in-depth at our induction training sessions.  Such courses include, Dementia: Promoting Excellence, Catheter Care and Stoma Care.
  4. E-Learning.  Our staff have access to a full range of online E-learning courses from First Aid Awareness to Adult Support and Protection.

External resources for Carers

There are a huge amount of organisations who have developed excellent websites, full of resources, advice and events that have proved invaluable to our staff in enriching the quality of our clients’ lives.  Here are a few of the best…

  1. The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is the regulator for the social service workforce in Scotland. They protect the public by registering social service workers, setting standards for their practice, conduct, training and education and by supporting their professional development. Where people fall below the standards of practice and conduct they can investigate and take action.
  2. The Care Inspectorate website hosts an online resource library with articles on many topics.
  3. Alzheimer Scotland provides a wide range of specialist services for people with dementia and their carers. They offer personalised support services, community activities, information and advice, at every stage of the dementia journey.
  4. Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland have an enormous amount of excellent resources on all aspects on Chest, Heart and Stroke issues, including the management of these health issues, the road to recovery, and also lots of excellent resources for the children of people living with these health issues.
  5. Playlist for Life  harnesses the power of music and focuses on connecting people living with Dementia to musical memories.
  6. Carers Link work with carers throughout the East Dunbartonshire area providing tailored support, advocacy services, and links to events such as Dementia Friendly Opera Performances, Chair Yoga, Mindfulness, Autism Awareness and a Legal Matters clinic.
  7. Stirling Universities Dementia Centre is an international centre of knowledge and expertise dedicated to improving the lives of people with dementia. Their website has lots of suggestions on how we can more effectively work with our clients with Dementia, from developing skills to motivating people, encouraging independence, stimulating mental function, talking, reading, games etc.
  8. Care for Carers is a voluntary organisation based in Edinburgh which provides support services to all carers, and offers short breaks through their “Stepping Out” service to carers from across Scotland.

The Rewards of being a Care Worker

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By Eliza Esposito

“Caring for vulnerable people and people in need, carries a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment that only comes when you engage in helping others, and in the act of giving.”

Being a Care Worker can often be viewed as a challenging role which does not get any social recognition, and a role where financial remuneration does not always reflect the many responsibilities involved.

For me, the rewards of being a Care Worker go well beyond that: caring for vulnerable people and people in need, carries a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment that only comes when you engage in helping others, and in the act of giving. Whether we are caring for children, people with learning disabilities, older people, or any other groups in need of support, these are the reasons why, as carers, we get out of bed every morning, stay motivated throughout the day, and end our day with a smile!

For a Care Worker, no two days are the same! Supporting and caring for others comes in many forms and shapes: whether it’s helping with housekeeping, personal care, making meals, providing support to get out in the community or companionship, I feel my contribution helps someone else live their life with dignity and to the person’s full potential. Knowing that without my help, they would have not been able to carry out everyday tasks that we take for granted, fills me with a great sense of accomplishment and fills my day with purpose. Making a positive difference to someone else’s day, makes my day!

On a deeper level, I have become aware that my intervention, often in such small ways has the power to enable people to make personal choices, and to keep their identity as individuals, as I support them to choose what to wear or what to eat, whether to stay in or to go out. Promoting and supporting the independence of someone who, through physical weakness, disability or age, would have to give up their right to express their choices and preferences, is a privilege and is extremely rewarding. And the ultimate outcome is that I feel I’m helping another human being grow and make progress in their journey.

Another great aspect of a Care Worker’s life is the daily face-to-face meaningful contact with people. In a society where everybody is racing around, struggling to keep up with life’s demands and commitments, and where very few can afford to make time for others, a Care Worker’s role is centred on human interaction and on building trustworthy relationships with people around you. That includes the Clients you support, as well as your network of co-workers and other social care professionals who will always be seeking to support you in many ways. So, if the Office environment is not for you, or you are sick of computers and technology, working as a Carer will fill your days with a much deeper meaning.

Another valuable side of Caring for others, is that through every big or small challenge, it continually encourages me to develop my own personal and interpersonal skills. Looking after the needs of vulnerable individuals has enriched my life experience, as I learn something new every day. It has improved my decision-making and problem solving skills and has helped me grow in confidence and feel good about using my natural talents and dispositions.

Overall, a Care Worker is the kind of person who believes that we all share a duty and an interest in making this world a better and kinder place. We thrive in a society that is built on mutual support and respect, and that values diversity. Therefore the feeling of giving something back to our community is a priceless reward, as we feel we carry the responsibility of being a positive example that inspires others to do the same for future generations.

“A Care Worker is the kind of person who believes that we all share a duty and an interest in making this world a better and kinder place. We thrive in a society that is built on mutual support and respect, and that values diversity. Therefore the feeling of giving something back to our community is a priceless reward, as we feel we carry the responsibility of being a positive example that inspires others to do the same for future generations.”

 

 

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