Your professional provider of Domiciliary Care Services throughout the region.

January 17th, 2018

There’s so much information and misinformation out there about the benefits system and who is entitled to what, that it can be easy to overlook your entitlements.

Council tax savings

Older people in particular may well fall into the category of being entitled to help with council tax, so do check if you think this could be you.

There are three categories to look out for, and if you fit into any of these then you may be entitled to help.

Discounts

Certain people will get a discount and so pay a reduced rate of council tax. For example, anyone living on their own, or treated as living on their own (more of this under ‘Disregards’ below) is entitled to a 25% reduction on their bill. This is called the ‘single person’s discount’. There are other types of discount too.

Disregards

Disregards apply to people living in the property. Some people are ‘disregarded’ for council tax purposes. So, for example, if one of two occupants is disregarded, it will be as if the other person lives alone, and they will get a 25% single person’s discount on their council tax.

To be disregarded the person must:

  • have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent
  • have a certificate confirming this impairment from a registered medical practitioner, usually a GP or consultant
  • be entitled to certain disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (higher or middle rate care components) and Personal Independence Payment (lower or higher rate of the daily living component).

Many people with dementia meet all three criteria, so are disregarded under the severe mental impairment rules.

Exemptions

Exemptions apply to properties, rather than people. An exemption means the whole property is exempt from council tax and there is nothing to pay. For example, when the only people occupying the property are ‘disregarded’ (as explained above).

But not all disregards mean the property will be exempt from council tax. Some disregards mean the person doesn’t count for council tax purposes, but the property is treated as if it is empty and will be charged an empty property rate. This might happen if a carer who meets certain criteria lives at the property.

Do you live with a carer?

Some carers can be disregarded for council tax purposes if they fall into one of two groups. First, they may be disregarded if they:

  • care for at least 35 hours a week
  • live in the same property as the person they care for
  • are not the partner of the person they care for
  • are not the parent of the person they care for, if the person cared for is aged under 18.

Also, the person being cared for must be entitled to certain benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, higher rate Attendance Allowance, or Constant Attendance Allowance.

The second group applies to people who provide live-in care or support on behalf of a local authority, government department or charity, or provide care through an introduction by a charity, where the person being cared for is the carer’s employer (and where they care for a minimum number of hours and have a maximum income from the work).

Someone who falls into either of these carer groups is disregarded for council tax purposes. However, this type of disregard doesn’t mean that the property will be exempt for council tax purposes. The person will pay a reduced council tax bill but they will pay something.

It is a complicated system, but if you believe you are entitled to a discount, disregard or exemption it is worth exploring. There is more information about this on the Alzheimer’s Society’s excellent website.

December 18th, 2017

Last week we held a Christmas lunch for our head office and senior management team, and our area teams will be holding their own festive get-togethers.

As I looked around the table, and we tucked into our turkey with all the trimmings, I felt really proud – proud of what we have achieved with DoCare in the 13 years we have been operating but especially proud of the ethos of our business. We believe we are a family, and in our family are our fantastic staff, our clients and their families. We’re all working together to make every day a better day for everybody involved.

We’re always busy here at DoCare, and 2017 has been no exception. Among this year’s highlights was the creation of our new training room, which has been kitted out to replicate a client’s room. In fact, we even have a mannequin who we have dubbed Doris DoCare, and our new recruits learn so much by going into Doris’s room.

Staff training and improving skills is an essential part of providing a great service, so we were delighted to introduce more training opportunities this year. Many of our team have taken courses in helping to support clients who have Parkinson’s Disease. We also have specialist palliative care training for those of our team who are particularly interested in end-of-life care.

Another highlight was taking part in Cupcake Day, a national event run by the Alzheimer’s Society not just to raise funds but to increase awareness of dementia. Our team rallied around by providing cakes, and we invited all our friends and neighbours to join in. Tea and cake – what a great combination!

This year, we introduced a memory tree, which stands in the corner of our reception and where people can hang messages to loved ones as a way of remembering them. It’s proved very popular and a lovely way for people to quietly reflect on those who are no longer here.

Finally, to round off the year, we have just had an inspection by the Care Quality Commission. The CQC regularly inspects all homecare providers, and reports its findings. We are awaiting our report, and will bring it to you as soon as we are able.

So, 2017 was a busy year – and we’re now looking forward to whatever 2018 has in store.

In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This blog was written by Steve Mills, DoCare Director. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

 

December 18th, 2017

Two pieces of news have come out in quick succession recently, about the issue of loneliness.

 

Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

A cross-party commission on loneliness, set up by the murdered MP Jo Cox, says the government should create a national strategy to combat loneliness and calls for the appointment of a minister to lead action on the issue.

That would be quite something. To have a dedicated minister would be a real acknowledgement of the issue that affects so many people in the country, particularly older people.

Staggeringly, the commissions says that loneliness is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and affects nine million UK people.

In another piece of news, Prof Jane Cummings, NHS England’s chief nursing officer, said the combination of cold weather and loneliness could be lethal in the coming months. She said the cases of strokes and heart attacks tended to rise after a cold snap. This factor, and the growing problem of loneliness, were a dangerous combination over winter.

She added that “simple acts of companionship” could make all the difference, such as visiting friends, family and neighbours, and offering to help with shopping or collecting prescriptions.

The issue is being highlighted as part of the NHS Stay Well this Winter campaign.

The good news is that the government says new initiatives to combat loneliness will be announced next year.

But, as the Jo Cox report acknowledges, government action alone cannot solve the problem. We should all do our bit. Everybody needs to get on board to build a community and help our friends and neighbours.

Our great team here at DoCare do their bit to provide friendship to our clients, often going over and above what is expected of them.

Together, we can tackle loneliness.

This blog was written by Rachel Houghton, Service Manager. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

December 6th, 2017

We’ve been running DoCare now for 13 years and at the heart of our business is our ethos that we are all part of a big family – the staff, the clients, their friends and relatives, and the head office team. We are all working together with the shared goal of making every day a better day for our clients.

While it’s one thing to have this goal, it’s quite another to achieve it. How do we know we’ve created an organisation that works for everybody involved? One way is by reading all the lovely messages that come into us via all sorts of means: verbally, by post, by email, on our Facebook page, or by giving a shout out via our dedicated email address stars@docare.co.uk. These messages are from staff, clients and families, all giving DoCare and our great team a pat on the back.

We’d like to share a few of these with you here. Yes, we’re blowing our own trumpet, but we’re doing so on behalf of the fantastic team who make up the DoCare family.

So here goes ….

“Care is a very personal thing and can cause upset for both the client and carers if things go wrong. I have been with Do Care for over two years and find their staff very approachable. They take time to listen when there are things that aren’t quite right and rectify them. Overall I would recommend them to anyone who needs care. Such a friendly team.”

“Docare is one of the best companies to work for as they are very supportive towards all of their staff. Every member of the company is always willing to support or lend a hand to anyone who needs help.”

“Been working for Docare for nearly a year now and think it’s a brilliant care company to work for. Carers get amazing training and support throughout. Love doing my job.”

“My brother and I would like to thank you all for my Mum’s loving, tender care that’s still ongoing.”

“Thank you for all your care, your encouragement, your support and peace of mind.”

“Well done Team DoCare – you are an amazing role model for others to follow.”

There are many more we could post up, and we often do so on our Facebook page.

If you like the sound of DoCare, or are considering working in care, please do get in touch. It’s tough but rewarding, and if you love care then you have a career for life.

This blog was written by Una Mills, DoCare Director. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

 

 

 

 

November 29th, 2017

We’re fast heading into December and we’ve already had a few frosty mornings, with more on the horizon as we move towards winter.

Keep warm in winter

Keep warm in winter

This can be a difficult time for elderly people, particularly those who are less mobile and so find it harder to keep warm. So here are a few simple steps everyone can take to make sure they are prepared for the winter chill.

  1. Keep warm by wearing several thin layers of clothing, because warm air is trapped in between
  2. Keep living rooms at 21C and bedrooms at 18C
  3. Get the heating system serviced and the chimneys swept – now a great time to do this. A serviced boiler is more fuel efficient
  4. Take up invitations from the GP to have a flu injection – these are free for elderly people
  5. Use a hot water bottle, wheat bag or electric blanket to warm the bed – but always remember to turn off an electric blanket before going to sleep
  6. Eat at least one hot meal a day. Making a hot meal need not take long. A boiled egg or omelette take just a few minutes
  7. Keep basic food items in, so the freezer and larder are stocked – this means you are prepared in the event of snow.

Our support team will be out and about, as they always are, this winter, keeping an eye on our clients. They’ll be passing these tips on to them. If you have an elderly neighbour or relative, why not do the same? It could make all the difference.

This blog was written by Una Mills, DoCare Director. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

November 4th, 2017

We were sorry to read that, for the second year running, dementia is still the leading cause of death in England and Wales.

According to government figures, in 2016 dementia was once again ahead of heart disease, which is the world’s biggest killer.

Last year, dementia was responsible for 62,948 deaths, making up 12 per cent of the total figure. Women were more susceptible to dying from dementia, which experts believe could be down to them living longer than men, on average. Death rates from dementia have more than doubled over the last five years.

But behind these headline figures, the story is not so straightforward. The marked increase is in part due to:

  • People living longer
  • Improvements in treatment of other diseases
  • Earlier diagnosis.

In other words, more people live with a diagnosis of dementia, and for longer, than they used to.

Vasita Patel, a statistician at the government’s Office for National Statistics, said: “Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were once again the leading cause of death for England and Wales in 2016, with an increase in number of deaths compared with 2015.

“Although general increases in longevity and improved treatment of other conditions are part of the reason for this increase, improvements in recognition, identification and diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have also contributed.”

Hard work is going on behind the scenes to find cures for dementia. Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, summed it up: “’What makes dementia one of the greatest medical challenges of modern society is the fact that we still lack a life-changing treatment to offer those affected. To defeat dementia, we must invest in research and it is essential that the condition is a national priority.”

Currently, 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia. Some are among our clients, and we do all we can to support them and their families, so they can live full and rewarding lives. We’ll carry on doing our bit, and wait for the day when there is a cure for dementia – let’s hope that time isn’t too far off.

This blog was written by Una Mills, DoCare Director. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

 

 

September 29th, 2017

It takes a really special person to want to deliver care – someone with passion, and an interest in helping people, and this is what we look for when we recruit people to join the DoCare family.

I’ve been working in care for many years, and so along with my colleague Danni and support from our director, Una, we are very good at spotting the people who have that certain something to fit in with our ethos of making every day a better day for our clients.

So how does our recruitment process work?

We advertise our vacancies, which brings in many applicants, and other people also apply because they might have seen our Facebook page, seen our DoCare cars buzzing around, or because we have been recommended by someone they know.

Our first job is to chat to an applicant on the phone and make sure they meet certain criteria. For example, it is essential that they are willing to work every other weekend, and that they have a car. We also try to assess how genuinely interested an applicant is; it doesn’t matter if they have no care experience, but they do have to be keen to learn and progress.

Next, we call people in for an interview, and we are very quick to pick up the likely people to take forward by the way they answer questions. We look for qualities like patience, a willingness to go the extra mile, the ability to think on their feet, and a cheerful personality.

At interview, we are very clear about what the job entails, and it isn’t for everybody. But if they are still keen then we will chat over their application after the interview and, if they are successful, invite them to come in for induction training.

Our training is intensive and not everybody stays the course. Once out on the job, some people also find that working in care isn’t for them.

But for those who stay, a career in care is hugely rewarding, with opportunities for development, learning, and forming strong relationships with the team, the clients and their families.

If you are thinking of a career in care, then please get in touch for a chat. Call me, Andrea, on 01453 310010 or email people@docare.co.uk

This blog was written by Andrea Baird, DoCare’s Employee Services and Support Administrator.  If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch.  If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

September 21st, 2017

Palliative care is very close to my heart, and where my passion really lies but it is only recently I have had the opportunity to take some training to enable me to specialise in this area.

I’ve been working in care for about ten years, and I love it, and was inspired to go into this career by my Nan.

When I was little, Nan was a cook at a ‘guest house’ – that’s what care homes were often called. She did far more than cooking, and helped with caring for the people living there. At Christmas, I’d go along and sing songs to the residents, which I loved. And I remember Nan would be late some years for our own Christmas dinner at home, because she’s been with one of the residents who was dying. She said nobody should die alone, and I firmly believe this too.

When Nan developed dementia, and died five years ago, I saw the whole process of what happens, and how brilliant carers are and what they can do for people to make them more comfortable in their last hours and days.

With DoCare, I’m now one of the team who will do overnight stays with clients who are palliative. This helps give the relatives a break, knowing their loved one has company and someone on hand to respond to their needs.

It’s very intensive and gives us a chance to really get to know a client and their families. In fact, it is a privilege to be able to help them at this time.

I now plan to take my end-of-life care training further, by taking a course with the Sue Ryder charity, on end-of-life care for people with dementia, which will give me even more of an insight into how to help.

It is sad when someone dies, especially when we have become close to them. But I am proud that this important support is helping families at such a very difficult time.

This blog was written by Claire Bishop, Senior Support Worker with DoCare’s Cheltenham team. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

September 13th, 2017

At DoCare, we love it when we have the opportunity to listen to others’ words of wisdom, whether that’s tuning into BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, or Radio 2’s Pause for Thought.

It offers a little breathing space, the chance to reflect, and also to take on board what is usually very sound advice.

So at DoCare, we are launching our own version and calling it Just a Thought – and we’d like your help.

We will post here and on our Facebook page, regular thoughts and musings from people in our community. The thoughts may come from clients or their families; they may be the musings of our staff, or of local ministers.

We want the thoughts to be able to appeal to people of any religion or none. And the thoughts will provide a chance for the DoCare family to celebrate the diversity of our clients and their outlook on life.

In a nutshell, if you have a thought you would like to share and you are connected to DoCare or the area we work in, we would love to hear from you.

It goes without saying that any thoughts published reflect the opinions of the author, not necessarily of DoCare as a whole. And of course, content must be appropriate.

If you would like to make a contribution or know someone who would like to do so, please contact Danni at people@docare.co.uk. We’d like to keep the thoughts to no more than 400 words, and if you prefer they may be published anonymously.

We are so looking forward to ‘reading’ your thoughts.

 

This blog was written by Una Mills, DoCare Director. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch. If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.

August 29th, 2017

Last month the Lancet Commission listed the major factors which could play a part in reducing the risk of dementia, one of the biggest killers in the UK.

Some risk factors, like age and genetics, can’t be changed. But there are others, including smoking, diet and not getting enough exercise, that you can proactively do something about.

Here are Alzheimer’s Research UK guidelines on reducing the risk factors you have some control over:

  • Smoking: cutting down, or – ideally – giving up will reduce the risk of dementia. It’s not easy, but a good starting point is the NHS Smokefree National Helpline, which is free to call on 0300 123 1044.
  • High blood pressure: this can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions including forms of dementia. Exercise, good diet, and stopping smoking can all help to reduce your blood pressure.
  • Social isolation and lack of mental stimulation: research findings suggest this may contribute to cognitive decline and therefore raise the risk of developing dementia. Maintaining a social life, and keeping mentally active – through things like joining clubs, doing crosswords or sudoku – will help lower the dementia risk.
  • Obesity and type 2 diabetes: there is strong evidence linking obesity to dementia. Obesity is closely linked to type 2 diabetes which is also a risk factor linked to dementia. Eating healthily and exercising regularly will help combat both these risks at once.

For more information about dementia and curbing the risks of developing the disease, visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org.

At DoCare, we always take a particular interest in any new research relating to dementia, as many of our clients live with the condition. This advice from Alzheimer’s Research UK is excellent, and worth following not just because it will help reduce the risk of dementia but because it will lead to a generally healthier lifestyle for us all.

This blog was written by DoCare Director Steve Mills. If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch.  If you are interested in a rewarding career as a support worker, we would love to hear from you – please give us a call or you can apply online.