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March 15th, 2017

Do you remember Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men? Or the theme tune to the Old Grey Whistle Test? Depending on your age, you probably do.

And if you live with dementia, or have a friend or family member who has the condition, it is likely you (or they) remember them too. Because these old memories often stay with a person when other memories have gone.

So we were delighted to hear that the BBC has launched a permanent archive of pictures, audio and video clips as part of a project to help people with dementia, their family and carers, using their extensive archive to spark conversation.

Since a pilot scheme was launched last year, three-quarters of the 17,000 people who have used the archive reported that it triggered long-term memories they did not realise still existed.

The BBC has now confirmed it will make the resources permanent and easier to navigate, giving viewers a “natural way” to stimulate conversation and reminiscences. It is called the BBC Reminiscence Archive (BBC RemArc) and you can access it here.

The footage includes many ordinary scenes from each decade from the 1950s onwards, including children playing, football matches and familiar journeys by train and tube.

Other clips include popular television and radio programme throughout the ages, from Sir David Attenborough’s famous 1950s encounters in ZooQuest right up to the Generation Game, Blue Peter and Playschool.

BBC RemArc was created by the BBC’s Archive Development team in conjunction with Dundee University, the University of St Andrews and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Containing around 1,500 items from the BBC Archives, it showcases around 250 video clips, 250 audio clips and more than 1,000 images from the 1930s to the 2000s.

Scenes show a young Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Patrick Moore, and Delia Smith in their element, while Alistair Cooke broadcasts his Postcards from America and Jacob Bronowski describes The Ascent Of Man in 1973.

News footage includes Royal visits by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, speeches by Margaret Thatcher when Prime Minister and a film of the moon landings.

Dr Norman Alm, an honorary research fellow at Dundee University, said: “I have again and again seen the difference between interacting with and without this kind of carefully-designed technological help – and the difference is unbelievable.

“RemArc is a boon to people with dementia and just as importantly to their carers, who can sit back, relax, and enjoy the conversation, with RemArc doing all the heavy-lifting of supporting the interaction and keeping it lively, engaging, and importantly, unpredictable.”

Kathryn Smith, director of operations at Alzheimer’s Society says: “Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK today and this is set to rise to one million by 2021. It’s more important than ever that people with dementia are supported to live well with their condition.”

We have to say that, at DoCare – where we support many clients and their families, who are living with dementia – we think this is a marvellous resource and will be using it as part of our mission to make every day a better day.

 

This blog was written by Kate Townsend, DoCare’s Field 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.

 

 

 

March 10th, 2017

This week, Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his first, and last, spring Budget and among the many announcements was one that was music to our ears at DoCare – an increase in funding for social care.

Mr Hammond announced that councils will receive an extra £2bn to fund adult social care over the next three years: £1bn of the cash will be released in 2017-18 to allow councils to “act now” and commission more social care packages to “relieve pressures on the NHS”. The remaining funding will be provided in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

We can’t be sure at this stage how much this funding will help – will it make a big difference or will it just be a sticking plaster, patching up a severely underfunded social care system?

There is also a concern that the money may not reach the frontline services, where it is sorely needed.

Colin Angel, policy director of the UK Homecare Association (UKHCA), of which DoCare is a member, said: “At first sight, the Chancellor’s budget appears to be good news for the social care sector in the short term. While councils are expected to spend public money wisely, there are few apparent measures to ensure that this additional funding reaches frontline social care services where it is most needed, rather than plugging gaps in existing budgets.

“It has been encouraging to hear government acknowledge the pressures on the social care system, and that it will publish a green paper later this year to look at longer term solutions to support care services for older and disabled people. We should be aware, however, that green papers do not themselves create a change in government policy, so optimism about the long-term future must be tempered by an awareness that a sustainable solution is still some way off. For any long-term solution to be effective, government must fully involve provider organisations in shaping a new direction for adult social care.”

We’d absolutely endorse this at DoCare: the extra funding is welcome, but it’s just one step on the road.

In the meantime, we’ll carry on providing a quality service to our clients, striving to make every day a better day for them.

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.

March 8th, 2017

Recently the media reported on a new Commission on Loneliness set up in Parliament, in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox.

For the first time a cross-party group of MPs, policy-makers and more than a dozen leading organisations have come together to expose the growing crisis of loneliness and find ways to overcome it.

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness will be working throughout 2017 with the following partners – Action for Children, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, The British Red Cross, The Campaign to End Loneliness, Carers UK, The Co-op, Eden Project Communities, Independent Age, Refugee Action, Royal Voluntary Service, Sense and The Silver Line – to shine a light on different aspects of loneliness and the positive steps we can all take to combat it.

Research carried out by the organisations involved with the commission show more than nine million people admit they are “always or often lonely” – with two thirds of those saying they would never admit it in public. It also describes how the British instinct to “put a brave face on it” is masking a social crisis.

As Jo herself put it, “young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate…it is something many of us could easily help with. Looking in on a neighbour, visiting an elderly relative or making that call or visit we’ve been promising to a friend we haven’t seen in a long time.”

At DoCare, most of our clients are elderly and many of them live alone. They have supportive and loving families, but we know some feel lonely. We do all we can to make their day a better day, but we’re aware that in some cases our support workers are the only visitors they have.

Loneliness is a problem, and we think this Commission is a fantastic way to highlight it and to see what can be done. Working together has to be the answer.

You can find out more information about the Commission here. There is lots of information about services you can access, or if you want to help and volunteer, at the website for the Campaign to End Loneliness.

 

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.

March 1st, 2017

We’re now in our 13th year at DoCare, and our company has changed in many ways. Whereas we started with just myself, Una and one client, we now employ dozens of fantastic support workers, have a brilliant head office team and – of course – many, many clients. They all make up the DoCare family.

We’re alawys sad when one of our team leaves, and recently Will – our client services co-ordinator – left to go to Korea to teach English. Will had joined us when he graduated from university, and was a brilliant and versatile member of the team, so we will miss him.

But this has given us an opportunity to review the client services co-ordinator role. We are always looking for ways to innovate and improve, and we saw an opportunity here.

So our new client services role will be broader than the last, to reflect the size of the business but at the same time ensuring we remain true to our ethos, of delivering a better day for our clients.

Our new co-ordinator will be tasked with:

  • Spotting where we have spare capacity
  • Making that capacity available to potential new clients
  • Helping speed up and ease the process of getting clients home from hospital
  • Making the best of our resources to give the best value to our clients
  • Shaping and improving our client services team

An important goal for us it to move towards a full seven day service, so we can take on new clients at any time. We believe this links well with the planned extended services of GP practices and hospital doctors, and will be better for our clients.

We’re excited about the new role and are looking forward to putting somebody in post.

And because Will is moving to Korea, I’m reminded of a Korean saying, “Shi-jaki bani-da”, which means “Starting is half the task”. And that’s how it seems to me – we’re still just starting in our pursuit of making every day a better day for those we support.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

January 24th, 2017

 

Many of our clients love their pets. Their pets keep them company, give them love and friendship and help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Sadly, many of our clients are no longer able or are allowed to have pets, either because of where they live or because of their ability to cope. Some make up for this by having toy dogs and cats – or even teddy bears – as companions. But this isn’t quite the same as having a real animal.

So we were delighted to hear about a charity based in Cornwall, which helps support elderly people who want to keep their pets but need some extra help to be able to do so.

The Cinnamon Trust’s main aim is to respect and preserve the treasured relationship between owners and their pets. To this end it works in partnership with owners to overcome any difficulties that might arise. A national network of more than 15,000 community service volunteers provide practical help when any aspect of day to day care poses a problem – for example, walking the dog for a housebound owner.

A national fostering service is provided for pets whose owners face a spell in hospital – volunteers take pets into their own homes and supply love and care in abundance until owner and pet can be reunited.

The Cinnamon Trust also provides long-term care for pets whose owners have died or moved to accommodation which will not accept pets. Arrangements are made between owners and the Trust well in advance, so owners have peace of mind in the knowledge that their beloved companion will have a safe and happy future.

When a pet is in the Trust’s care either short-term or long-term because the owner is in care, the owner is kept in touch with visits, if possible, or regular photos and letters.

The Cinnamon Trust helps 32,142 people a year with 41,342 animals and runs two home from home sanctuaries. As a charity, it needs funds to cover the costs and volunteers to help run the service and care for the animals.

If you are interested in helping the Cinnamon Trust, or using its services for yourself or a family member, here are the contact details: call 01736 757 900 or write to The Cinnamon Trust, 10 Market Square, Hayle, Cornwall, TR27 4HE.

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.

 

January 17th, 2017

 

We’ve just unveiled a fantastic new training facility at our Stroud headquarters, which our recruits have been using.

We’ve converted an empty office at the end of our training room into a ‘home’ for our honorary (if imaginary) client, Doris DoCare. The room contains many of the features we see in our real clients’ homes, including a hospital bed, pictures, phone, furniture and ornaments. We even have a toy dog with a food bowl, as many of our clients have toy animals because they are no longer able to have the real thing.

DoCare training room

DoCare training room

And there are also potential hazards in this room – including a rug with a curled edge – which the trainees need to spot.

The room will help our trainees gain an insight into what it will be like when they first enter a client’s home, and teach them how to spot for potential risks and how to glean information about the clients’ personalities and preferences.

We’ve not heard of this being done anywhere else before, but it is an idea we have had for some time and we are lucky enough to have the space. Our team are completely committed to ensuring that all new staff get the best training and this will be a great addition to our facilities.

More items are due to be added to the room, including a walking frame and a shop dummy, which trainees can practise dressing, moving and handling.

If anyone has an item they would like to donate, or would like a tour of the room and our training suit, please get in touch.

 

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.

 

 

December 19th, 2016

 

What a year 2016 has been for change! We’ve had some very significant political changes both national and internationally, with the Brexit vote, a new Prime Minister, and Donald Trump the unexpected winner of the US presidential election.

On a rather smaller scale, at DoCare we have experienced our own changes. We’ve had to say goodbye to some colleagues and friends, who have moved on to pastures new. But we have also made some fantastic new appointments among our team, promoting people internally and also bringing new people into the DoCare family.

Among the changes has been the appointment of three new team leaders and eight new seniors. And we promoted Kate Townsend to the role of Field Manager. All good news for DoCare as a whole, and for our staff and clients.

Our Service Management Team has grown in number, as we have extended our opening hours. This has meant we are able to provide a more comprehensive, fast-reacting service to our clients and better central support for our field staff.

We’ve held events, including our open day to mark National Dementia Awareness Week. And we have won awards, with DoCare being named the Care Employer of the Year at the Great British Care Awards.

We’re keen as ever to support our clients in their endeavours, so were delighted to sponsor Rollo with his fundraising photography exhibition back in March.

And we’re proud that our staff also take part in fundraising, with several of our team joining the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walks.

Now the end of the year is approaching, it just remains for me, on behalf of the team here, to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – and to look forward to whatever 2017 has in store.

 

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.

 

 

December 12th, 2016

 

Today, our blog is written by Judy, and is about her experience of supporting parents with dementia. Judy’s father was a DoCare client.

I first started noticing my parents were having difficulties about eight years ago, when they were living two-and-a-half-hours away. It was clear they were struggling to cope, so we moved them closer to us. Mum was very against the move, but Dad was quite excited about it.

They managed well for some time but I started to notice I was having to explain things a lot more to them. I am a retired teacher, so luckily I have the patience of Job, but it was a little frustrating at times.

I also began to realise they were hiding things from me. For instance, Dad became confused with medication and on one occasion we found out he had taken not only his but Mum’s too. Another time, Mum boiled a dishcloth but left it on the hob, so it turned to ash and the kitchen was full of smoke. Dad began to forget simple things, like how to put his jumper on.

At this point, I turn to the doctor for help. I remember bursting into tears when I was at the surgery because it had really dawned on me now that both of them were changing.

Some tests were carried out on Dad, which showed he had Alzheimer’s disease. Mum wasn’t diagnosed at that point, but she was turning into a completely different person.

I found it very difficult because when I was with them I had to go into jolly daughter mode, and always be upbeat but the effort of keeping that up was a challenge.

It was at this point that we had DoCare coming in so support Dad, and that worked well for a while.

As time went on, though, Mum was becoming increasingly difficult. She stayed in bed and refused to get up. She regularly called for an ambulance and claimed she was dying. The GP was informed of this, luckily, so we were then able to arrange a carer for her who she loved like an angel.

Sadly, she then fell ill and went into hospital where she died three weeks later.

Dad understood she had passed away but somehow the Alzheimer’s cushioned him from grief. He was, though, quite needy, easily confused, and began to have falls. At this point we realised he needed to go into a care home.

Dad was an intellectual, so I worked out ways to jog his memory. I wrote messages on cards, which I handed to him as I spoke to him. I’d write sentences for him, to keep, which he could then reread as reminders of what we had spoken about.

He loved the care home – when he arrived he said he had a “splendid room”. He went there in August 2014, but by the Christmas he didn’t know it was Christmas. He died the following year.

What do I think when I look back? Initially, I was in denial but then there was a slow acceptance. Then I realised the best way to approach my parents was to go along with what they said – even if it sounded nonsense, to them it wasn’t nonsense. I learnt that while emotionally it was really tough, self-pity wouldn’t help.

Coping with parents with dementia is a long and painful journey which requires patience, tolerance and acceptance of the hand of cards that they have been dealt. None of this comes easily, but a lot of hugs and smiles, and just being there for them in what is a role reversal of care, is what is important.

If you are looking after a relative with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Society offers lots of information and support.

If you have a relative who you think would benefit from DoCare’s services, or would like assistance yourself, please get in touch.  And 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 2nd, 2016

 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects one in every 500 people in the United Kingdom – that is 127,000 of us. It generally affects those over the age of fifty.

With statistics like these, it is likely that most of us know at least one person affected by Parkinson’s. And, of course, among our clients are a number of people we support who are living with the disease.

For every individual who has the condition, the combination of symptoms is different.  They can also change with alarming speed, so that a task that could be completed independently in the morning may be impossible, without help, just hours later.

 

Challenges of Parkinson’s disease

 

To help understand the complexity of challenges faced by our clients with Parkinson’s, and in line with our person-centred approach to care, many of our DoCare team are now volunteering for additional training.

The first group have graduated from the course, which was devised by Parkinson’s UK, with flying colours. I am delivering the course, having first undergone the training myself. Our first group did brilliantly, and we have plans to run further courses.

The training was a real eye-opener about Parkinson’s and how it affects people. It has really helped our support workers who took part to understand the disease, and appreciate the challenges some of our clients are dealing with on a daily – and sometimes hourly – basis.

Our ethos at DoCare is to make every day a better day for all our clients, by providing a tailored support service with a personal approach. This latest training initiative is one example of our commitment to delivering a consistently high level of care.

Further information about Parkinson’s disease is available at https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/ .

 

This blog was written by Kate Townsend, DoCare’s Field 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 14th, 2016

Any holiday requires planning and a holiday with someone who lives with dementia requires considerable attention to detail. However, this should not be a barrier to embracing well-earned rest, new experiences and a change of scenery.

There is a wide range of holiday options available to people with dementia and their carers, from specially tailored adventure holidays, to centre-based breaks with trips and entertainment included.

Independent travel offers flexibility and choice but involves more detailed planning. Package holidays are also an option, as long as your travel agent is aware of your needs and can meet them.  Basically, the world is your oyster – as long as you have done your homework!

People with dementia may find a new environment confusing or worrying if something doesn’t go to plan. It is also important for the carer to be able to relax and have a good time. So, things to bear in mind might include whether a small hotel with fewer corridors would be best, and whether travelling at quieter times of year might also be a good idea.

The benefits of taking a holiday can far outweigh the task of preparation. For those living from dementia, the extra stimulus can be hugely beneficial.  Often, carers aren’t seeking time away from the people they care for but a space, with appropriate support, where they can normalise their relationships again, as husband and wife, or parent and son or daughter.

Two organisations we’ve come across offering very different types of holidays for people with dementia and their carers are:

  • Revitalise revitalise.org that sets aside several weeks a year in three of its centres, with dementia-trained staff who can give you quality time with the person you love. Subsidies are available for these breaks.
  • Dementia Adventure dementiaadventure.co.uk focuses on outdoor activities and connecting with nature, providing land or water-based activities for people at different stages of their dementia journey.

The Alzheimer’s Society has a useful fact sheet about travelling and going on holiday at www.alzheimers.org.uk.

Any service that provides support for people with dementia, and those who care for them, has to be applauded.

 

This blog was written by Rachel Houghton DoCare’s 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.