Category Archives: Care and Carers

REPORT: Malnutrition in old age

A new report, called Hidden Hunger and Malnutrition in the Elderly, calls on the government to look more closely at malnutrition in older people, which is estimated to cost the NHS and social care £15.7 billion a year by 2030. It suggests that malnutrition is most likely to arise amongst older people following an accumulation of setbacks – bereavement, illness, a loss of community transport services, and a nearby shop closing, for example – which leave them unable easily to access food.

The report argues that targeted investment in services that protect older people from malnutrition would deliver significant annual savings to the NHS, not least by reducing the number of hospital admissions and limiting the number of days older people spend in hospital.

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SOCIAL CARE: Age UK Guide

‘Social care’ is the general term used to refer to the extra support or care needed to carry out daily tasks at home to keep you living independently.

This extra help and support might include:

  • help at home with simple tasks like shopping, laundry and cleaning
  • personal care such as washing, dressing and preparing a meal
  • housing with care scheme (also known as sheltered accommodation)
  • home adaptations and equipment to make life easier and help you live independently at home.

When looking at “Social Care”, it’s worth noting that it is never “free”.  However, the amount you pay depends on the level of need and the amount of assets you have. If you think you need social care, you should always start with an assessment of your needs from your local council.

Age UK have a really helpful guide to social care and how to access it on their website: Social Care

The NHS Choices website also has a comprehensive guide to care services: NHS Choices

CINEMA: Dementia film at Square Chapel

Memory Lane café from Sowerby Bridge and Halifax have teamed up with the Square Chapel for a special showing of the 2014 film “Still Alice”.  The film stars Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin and it charts the progress of early onset dementia.  A wide range of support organisations will be there with information and advice.  Alzheimer’s Society will also be on hand to offer one-to-one information and support for anyone who has questions around dementia.

The film will be shown at 2 pm on Tuesday 28th November in the main Red Brick auditorium at the Square Chapel, Halifax.

Tickets (£4) are on sale at Square Chapel www.squarechapel.co.uk phone 01422 349422.  Representation at the display will be from 1 pm until after the film has finished.  There will be a second showing of the film at 11.00 am on Wednesday 29th November.  This time slot, in the smaller Copper auditorium, is Mums and baby friendly.

SOCIAL CARE: Plan to be published

The older people’s charity, Independent Age, is today celebrating following a campaigning victory that we can all enjoy with them. Here’s what they had to say:

The Government has announced when they will publish the plan for social care!
Over 10,000 of you got behind our petition calling on Theresa May to commit to a date to publish her plans for social care.

You showed the Government that the public has not forgotten about the 1.2 million people struggling without the care they need to wash, dress and make their own meals.

Today the Government has announced they will publish a green paper on care and support for older people by summer 2018.

Although we had hoped for an earlier date, this is still a significant step towards securing a better social care system. This milestone would not have been achieved without consistent pressure from campaigners. Thank you so much for making this happen.

We will be working hard to make sure that older people’s voices are included in the plans. We’ll keep you updated about ways you can get involved. In the meantime, share the good news with your friends and ask them to join our campaign.

CARE: Guide on how to pay for it

Paying for your Care – Funding your own care at home or in a care home is a new guide produced by the charity, Independent Age.

Download Copy of the Guide (2.5 MB pdf)

About the Guide
The number of people paying for their own care is growing. While some people will qualify for funding from their council, many will end up paying for all of their care. This can be di’cult, financially and emotionally, but it’s best to plan ahead and avoid snap decisions. This guide is intended for people paying for all of their own care, and their friends and family.

It also explains council assessments and how they could help you. Whether you’re looking at residential care or need care at home, it’s important to consider your options carefully and
review them regularly. Make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to and thinking about what you can aford in the long term. We spoke to older people about their experiences. Their quotes appear throughout.

Guide Contents:

1. Terms you might encounter 3
2. Getting started 5
3. Home care or a care home? 10
4. The financial assessment 18
5. Getting rid of assets to avoid
paying for care 26
6. NHS help to pay for care 29
7. Ways to pay for your care 31
8. If your financial situation changes 38

Terms You Might Encounter
“Terms you might encounter” is a small section included in the guide and well worth a repeat here. The social care system can be full of jargon. Here are a few words and phrases you may come across:

Social care: Help and support services provided to people who need them, for example because of illness, disability or old age. Social care helps people to carry out everyday tasks, like washing, dressing and household chores – it doesn’t include healthcare. It might be provided at home or in a residential care home.

Personal care: This is one part of social care. It describes help and support with everyday tasks to care for yourself, such as washing, dressing, eating and going to the toilet. It doesn’t include help with household chores like laundry and shopping.

Self-funder: A person who is paying for all of their own care themselves (self-funding), rather than getting financial help from the local council.

Means testing: Looking at your finances to work out whether you qualify for financial help from
the government or local council. Social care is usually means-tested.

Capital: Wealth in the form of money or items that have a financial value, such as savings, investments and property (buildings and land).

Download Copy of the Guide (2.5 MB pdf)

REPORT: “NHS should ‘prescribe’ exercise”

The website homecare.co.uk, the leading UK home care website with over 1.5 million visitors per year and 6,670 Home Care Reviews, is always a good source of information and news.

This week, they have been running an interesting story supporting the encouragement of older people to take more exercise.

Instead of resting, older people should be exercising and keeping physically active, according to doctors. A report in the British Medical Journal has called for a change in the current thinking that exercise is only for the young.

Older people need to take responsibility for their health and cut down the need for social care by keeping fit, say doctors. Scarlett McNally, an orthopaedic surgeon and lead author of the report, said: “Social care can be preventable because the risk of disease, disability, dementia and frailty can be reduced.

“We need individuals to understand how to get active every day and to help their friends and family to be active. We need national and local organisations to build activity and active travel into our environments and to demand improvements. The improvements are quick.”

The report argues that frailty, dementia and disability are not inevitable consequences of ageing and that regular exercise can actually make someone a decade younger in terms of their fitness levels. Since exercise is so much more beneficial than medication, the NHS should ‘prescribe’ exercise, it added.

Enabling people to stay ‘above the line’ of being able to get to the toilet in time is critical, it says, as crossing this line can increase social care costs five-fold. The lack of physical activity for hospital inpatients was singled out as a real problem with 80 per cent of their time spent in bed.

Anna Dixon, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better believes that physical activity that “maintains and improves muscle strength and ability to balance is crucial in reducing the risk of falling, potentially saving the NHS £1 billion from hip fractures”.

She added: “Falls account for 4 million hospital bed days every year. Physical activity is also critical to helping people live independently as they get older. Health professionals need to do more to support older adults to be physically active, including inpatients and those with long term conditions.”

The authors of the report are calling for changes to environments and in expectations to enable middle-aged and older people to become more active, including more open spaces and facilities such as cycle lanes.

Encouraging higher levels of physical activity among older adults could save billions in social care and NHS costs, the authors conclude.

Sir Muir Gray, one of the paper’s authors added: “The gap between the best possible level of ability and the actual rate of ability can be reduced at any age, no matter how many long-term conditions the person may have. The increase in the level of ability may not only restore the person to the ability they enjoyed ten years earlier, it may make the crucial difference between living well at home or being dependent on social care or residential care.”

The report ‘Focus on physical activity can help avoid unnecessary social care’ can be found at: http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j4609

CARE: Choosing a care home

The excellent Independent Age website has a very useful series of guides to choosing a care home. Particularly useful is their “Choosing a care home checklist”

You can download their checklist and use it when you visit a care home. It doesn’t cover everything and you don’t have to answer all the questions. It is designed to help you remember what you want to ask and to record your impressions.

If you’re looking at a care home for a relative, try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what would make a good home for them.

Where to start

A lot depends on what care you need – now and in the future – and what you can afford but you should also be guided by what matters to you. You will probably want to know:

  • how you will settle in
  • whether it will feel like home
  • what will happen if your circumstances change.

It’s a good idea to draw up a list of things that are important to you and how you want to live and divide it into:

  • essential
  • desirable

You may be worried about losing control and independence and you will probably have to make some compromises.  But the clearer you are about your wishes at this stage, the more chance there is of achieving them.

Before you go

There are some things you can find out before you go, such as:

  • the names of the manager and key staff
  • fees and additional costs
  • if they have places available
  • their Care Quality Commission rating.

When you visit

There will be a lot to take in when you visit, which is why it’s a good idea to have a checklist. If possible, go with someone. They can give you moral support, make notes and give you a second opinion.

The sort of things you will be considering include:

  • the location and facilities
  • your room
  • social activities and entertainment
  • the staff
  • whether the home can cater for any special requirements, both now and in the future, such as dementia care.

Practicalities

If you like the care home you will want to find out more about:

  • fees
  • any extra costs, for services such as hairdressing, chiropody
  • insurance
  • contracts
  • complaints procedures

What if you forget something?

Don’t be afraid to call and ask follow up questions or go back and drop in unannounced. A good care home will welcome you and be prepared to answer all your questions.

Related info on the Independent Age website – How to find the right care home