All posts by otusdevmin

MUSIC AND DEMENTIA IN THE NEWS

LIVE-IN CARERS CAN DELIVER MUSIC THERAPY

Reading the remarkable accounts of how the late Rhinestone Cowboy singer Glen Campbell continued delivering his famous music, even when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, has reminded us how important music can be to those suffering from dementia. With the help of his family and friends, Glen continued performing after he had been diagnosed – his last concert was in 2012 – the words and music were always there.

From before we are born our sense of hearing is active. At the age of 16 weeks gestation a baby can hear and distinguish its parent’s voices. We use music to soothe our babies when they are distressed and as our children begin to grow and learn, we sing them the same songs and nursery rhymes that we had sung to us. Medics say that hearing is the last sense we lose before we die and often encourage music to be played to patients in comas.

A quick search online for music therapy delivers a number of stories illustrating how effective music can be when caring for the elderly, particularly those suffering from dementia. There are many examples where dementia sufferers have found comfort and become happily animated when they listen to tunes or watch films from their past.

Support and advice can be sought from the British Association of Music Therapy which holds a register of practitioners who are qualified to provide music therapy. However, by using an iPod or MP3 device loaded with music enjoyed by someone in their younger days, a live-in carer can easily help deliver the benefits of music to clients. With input from loved ones and friends, a play list of music and songs liked by someone in their past can be created. Out of the home, a live-in carer can also help a client visit clubs or groups where they can join with others to sing or just listen to music, as well as going along to church, another place where music can be enjoyed.

Otus Live-in Care is a privately owned company. Based in West Sussex, we deliver a bespoke service, introducing personal live-in carers to clients in their own homes across the UK. Our registered carers have extensive experience of caring for people suffering from dementia and recognise the benefits of using music to help their clients. To find out more about our services call us on 01403 710119 or email info@otusliveincare.co.uk, without obligation.

MAKING A HOME DEMENTIA FRIENDLY

TOP TIPS FOR A DEMENTIA FRIENDLY HOME

This month sees the latest push to get more people talking and learning about dementia.  It is estimated that dementia could affect two million of us by 2050.  Today, it is estimated that 850,000 people are already sufferers.  There is still no cure and organisations such as Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society continue to spread the word and encourage people to fight for more funding for research.

A little known fact is that dementia can affect the young as well as the old, the fit and not so fit, and it is important to recognise early onset dementia (early-onset or young-onset can affect people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s).  It is not all about memory loss – it can affect the way we think, speak, perceive and behave.  Symptoms can include problems with concentration, judging distances, or controlling emotions.

People suffering from dementia can stay independent for many years, but often this is with the support of a loved one.  Living with dementia can be very stressful for all involved.

For anyone who has found themselves caring or just looking out for someone suffering from dementia, charities such as Dementia UK or the Alzheimer’s Society offer lots of help and advice to help minimise the difficulties that can be encountered, including how to make a home more dementia friendly.  Here are our top tips:

Declutter – everything should have a purpose

Lighting – natural light is good for positive mood, darkness in the bedroom is important for sleep

Patterns – keep things simple and plain.  Swirls, spots and patterns can be confusing

Colour – use contrasting colours for soft furnishings rather than ones that clash

Flooring – avoid anything that could cause a trip, be mistaken for a step or indeed a hole.  For example, a black mat on a brown floor could be mistaken for a hole by someone suffering from dementia

Wallcoverings and dressings – avoid cluttering walls with lots of different images, shapes and mirrors which could be upsetting and disturbing

Furniture – label draws and cupboards with bright pictures of what’s inside

Reflections – can be confusing so make sure that as the day darkens, curtains are drawn

Making changes – avoid making lots of changes in one area all together – too many changes at once in a single room could cause confusion.

At Otus Live-in Care our core aim is to give families peace of mind and confidence that their loved ones are being cared for by fully qualified and carefully matched carers.  Over 65% of our clients suffer from some form of dementia.  Co-ordinated from our head office in West Sussex, Otus registered carers have been delivering person centred care, either full time or as respite for family carers for over five years across the UK.  If you would like to know more about our services, just call the Otus team on 01403 710119 or send us an email at info@otusliveincare.co.uk.  We would be happy to talk to you, without obligation.

THE OTUS LIVE-IN CARER “WAS AN ABSOLUTE STAR”

LIVE-IN CARE FROM A CLIENT PERSPECTIVE

At Otus Live-in Care we are passionate about the quality of service we offer to our clients.  We believe that transparency, trust and communication are vital and understand how daunting the task of finding the right care package can be.

We encourage ongoing feedback from both our clients and carers.  This helps us to ensure that we are meeting the often changing needs of our clients, as well as ensuring that our registered carers are happy in their work.

Learning about other people’s experiences is sometimes the best way to understand how a service works, and this could not be any truer of live-in care.

For anyone wondering how live-in care can work, the following words received from an Otus client this week gives an excellent perspective of how it worked for her and her father.  The lady who provided the testimonial is a senior NHS professional.

“The carer Otus introduced to for my father was amazing.  She was an absolute star.  She approached caring for him with sensitivity and maturity.  Whilst he was in hospital, she visited him every day between 12 noon and 8pm to keep him company, and to ensure that he had everything he needed.  She was able to help and encourage him in many ways – over a two week period social services visited him every day.  She gave him moral support, encouraged him to open up and kept his family informed.  Even when the social services people changed meetings to 10am in the morning, she took it upon herself to make sure she was there to support my father.

People don’t do the maths – so often live-in care is thought of as expensive.  In my experience, it isn’t.  Until he had a fall, my father was so happy being cared for in his own home, surrounded by the things he loves.  For me it was about being able to be my father’s daughter, rather than becoming his carer.  Live-in care is not as expensive as people might think and the sooner more people realise this, the better.

I would be very happy to talk to anyone who might be considering live-in care as an option for their loved one and will champion the Otus Live-in Care team very highly.  Every member of the team is genuinely five star – they listen, are responsive to any concerns or problems and come up with sensible and deliverable solutions.  I have total faith and trust in what they do.  The service Otus offers is invaluable – it isn’t just about supplying a carer – they really do care.  They are a great back up and support to both family and client.”

Our core aim is to give families peace of mind and confidence that their loved ones are being cared for by fully qualified and carefully matched carers.  If you would like to know more about our services, just call the Otus team on 01403 710119 or send us an email at info@otusliveincare.co.uk .  We would be happy to talk to you, without obligation.

 

EFFECTIVE RESPITE CARE SOLUTIONS

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

The stress and worry of looking after a person at home with dementia or a physical disability should not be underestimated. Whilst the focus of concern is often on the one needing care, the wellbeing of the carer should never be overlooked. It is vital that a carer is able to take time out and have regular breaks to avoid emotional or physical overload – the quality of care given can suffer if the carer is exhausted. For those seeking a break or looking to relieve a family member, respite care can be sought in a number of ways.

Local agency drop in care – usually available on an hourly basis either through Social Services or through a paid for private service. Daily drop-in carers take over care responsibilities, relieving the full-time carer.

Drop in companionship – from local companionship and befriending services. This could be via a local organisation or charity. A quick internet search will suggest details of potential services available in your local area.

Day care centres/local groups for the elderly – local day care centres and groups can offer important stimulation and companionship for the person being cared for, as well as giving the carer some important time off. In some areas, day care centres and groups have volunteers who can arrange transport.

Short term respite away from home – could be provided in a number of environments, such as a residential care home. However, this would be dependent on availability and is not necessarily suitable for everyone – the change of environment and routine could prove stressful for someone suffering from dementia.

Live-in care – this is often a great solution for carers who need a break. It allows the person needing care to remain in their own home and continue with familiar routines, whilst at the same time giving the carer a proper break or even the chance to take a well-earned holiday.

At Otus Live-in Care, we understand how daunting the task of finding the right care package can be, whether it be for respite or longer term care. From our database of over 300 robustly checked carers, we are able to introduce experienced self-employed carers who have the precise skills and training to care for your loved one. We verify all qualifications and training, run enhanced DBS checks and seek a minimum of three references for every carer. We also place significant emphasis on finding out about their life experiences and interests too. This way you can be secure in the knowledge that your loved one is not just being cared for by an experienced live-in carer, but they will have similar interests and hobbies. We believe that this bespoke matching process really helps make the respite period easier for all, especially when your loved one is being asked to share their home with someone new.

Otus Live-in Care is a privately owned company. Based in West Sussex, we introduce experienced live-in carers to clients across the whole of the UK. We offer a bespoke service, and are dedicated to helping provide support for those who want to remain living in their own home independently. For more information, visit www.otusliveincare.com, call us on 01403 710119 or email info@otusliveincare.co.uk. We are always happy to offer help and advice, without obligation.

PATIENTS HAVE A RIGHT OF CHOICE

DON’T BE RUSHED OUT OF HOSPITAL

According to recent media reports, thousands of pensioners could be forced into care homes against their will under undisclosed NHS cost cutting plans. It is reported that more than 13,000 elderly people could be effectively ‘evicted’ as health authorities refuse to fund care in their own homes.

The potential of this gives great cause for concern – care homes are already under enormous pressure. The closure rate of care homes in the UK has been described as nearing ‘crisis’ with one closing every week – this is already leaving vulnerable people at risk. The UK has an aging population meaning that demand is only going to increase. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than one in 12 people in the UK will be aged over 80 by 2039. And with the NHS recently confirming that ‘20 hospitals declare black alert’ due to a lack of beds, the problem of rushed or ‘forced’ discharges could already be happening.

Patients and their families should remember that when it comes to being discharged from hospital, they can have a say. Each hospital will have its own discharge policy which will be available from the ward manager or the hospital’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). Once a patient is admitted to hospital, a treatment plan, including details for discharge or transfer, should be discussed and drawn up in liaison with each patient. A discharge assessment should determine whether a patient needs more care after leaving hospital. Each patient should be fully involved in the assessment process and if relevant, family and carers should be involved and given the opportunity to help with the practicalities.

According to the NHS Choices website, patients should not be discharged from hospital until:

• The patient is medically fit
• An assessment of ongoing recovery support has been completed
• A written care plan has been prepared and agreed with the patient
• The support described in the care plan has been put in place and it’s safe for the patient to be discharged.

No one should be pressured into leaving hospital until a full assessment process has taken place. The duty of Health & Social Services is to ensure that patients have a safe hospital discharge including setting up a care package and appropriate funding, which could be at home or in a care home. Allowing people to continue their recovery after a stay in hospital in the comfort of their own home has many benefits, even if 24 hour care and companionship is needed. It is cost effective, enables a more effective discharge from hospital and, it can help ease the current lack of beds in our hospitals and reduce readmission numbers.

Otus Live-in Care is a privately owned company offering a bespoke service introducing personal live-in carers and companions to clients in their own homes. We are dedicated to helping provide support for those who want to remain living in their own home independently, but with the security that they have someone living with them to deliver support and provide companionship. To find out more visit our website www.otusliveincare.com, call us on 01403 710119 or email info@otusliveincare.co.uk, without obligation.

DON’T OVERLOOK OUR SILENT CARERS

CARERS NEED SUPPORT TOO

With the festive season just around the corner, we are all more likely to be looking out for older neighbours or vulnerable families who might need a little extra support.  For those who are looking after a loved one, the impact on their own lives during the holiday season can often be magnified.  So who are our ‘silent carers’?

Many ‘carers’ do not consider themselves as such because they are first and foremost a parent, spouse or partner, son or daughter, relative, friend or neighbour.   It is estimated that one in 10 of the UK population is a carer.   Earlier this year, Age UK published a report showing the extent of our ‘invisible but invaluable army’ of the oldest carers – the statistics are quite an eye opener:

  • Over the past seven years the number of carers aged 80 and over has rocketed from 301,000 to 417,000, an increase of nearly 39%. Now 1 in 7 people aged 80 and over provide some form of care to family or friends.
  • The total number of carers aged 65 and over who are providing informal care for another person has risen from nearly 1.7 million (1,675,000) to over two million (2,076,000) in the last seven years.

So often a loved one caring for another does not have the time or inclination to seek out what help is available.  As a result they can often miss out on services, support, advice and benefits which may be available.

If you know of someone who might be one of our ‘invisible’ army of carers, there are many organisations and groups that can offer help and support.   Here are a few helpful links to organisations that maybe useful.

In West Sussex a charity called Carers Support West Sussexwww.carerssupport.org.uk – has regional offices throughout county.  The charity helps carers from all communities by providing practical information and emotional support.  Carers Support is associated with the larger charity Carers Trust – www.carers.org – which operates throughout the UK.  Both these charities offer an invaluable source of contacts that can offer individual or group support to those caring for someone with short or long term illness or a disability, including counselling, benefits and financial advice.  Indeed, over the last four years, the number of carers registering with the West Sussex Carers Support charity has risen by 48%.

Citizens Advice Bureauwww.citizensadvice.org.uk – can offer help and support to those responsible for looking after someone who has a disability, is getting old or has become ill, from practical help to make day-to-day life easier to advice about benefits like Carer’s Allowance.

Age UKwww.ageuk.org.uk – has published a useful leaflet called ‘Advice for Carers – a practical guide’ which can be downloaded from the website.

Collectively the team at Otus Live-in Care has many years’ experience, both professional and personal, around the issues carers can face.   We are always happy to offer help and advice, or talk about the possibility of respite care from an Otus registered carer, without obligation.  Call the Otus Live-in Care team on 01403 710119.

HOW LIVE-IN CARE SHOULD WORK

Personal, Bespoke, Professional

For anyone who might be considering live-in care in West Sussex or anywhere in the UK, the following testimonial may help.  Otus Live-in Care’s core aim is to alleviate the stress and concerns normally associated when considering live-in care or companionship.  We pride ourselves on offering a bespoke introductory service to those who wish to be cared for in the comfort of their own homes, and work hard to deliver a personal service.   The following testimonial, received from the daughter of one of our clients, demonstrates that our hard work is worth it.

“On behalf of all my family, I would like to thank you for the amazing job you have done, and continue to do, in finding and managing a team of fantastic carers for my parents.

Since my first email contact with you several months ago, we have felt very supported by you and you have worked extremely hard to recruit the best team for us and also be available to us at all times for any queries, worries or doubts we have had.

What has really set you above all the other care companies we have dealt with, is the extremely personal and tailor made service you have given us; all the many phone calls, the home visit to meet all my family and discuss all the issues in depth, and all the follow up calls and constant keeping in touch which has made us feel very supported and made the transition to your company so smooth.

All of the ladies who care for my parents are fabulously professional, charming and hardworking and my parents (both 93!) are thriving. The rest of the family can now relax in the knowledge that we don’t have to keep worrying about the level of care my parents are receiving. It is also so nice that Otus is a family run, small business which means no impersonal call centres, no being put on hold for ages and no confusion or miscommunication about rotas, billing etc, which is a great relief! Also, although the quality of care is more important than any financial concerns, it is a welcome bonus that your tariffs are so reasonable and well below those of many other larger care companies.

We are extremely grateful to you for your professionalism and commitment and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Otus Live-In Care to anyone requiring live-in care for themselves or a loved one.

Thank you all!  Kind regards, Kate Babb”, daughter of Otus Live-in Care clients living in West Sussex

FALLS AND THE ELDERLY

IMPORTANCE OF MINIMISING FALLS

Adult Daughter Helping Senior Tie Shoelaces

Having a fall, no matter how big or small, can have a major impact on an older person’s quality of life.  Apart from the pain and discomfort, it can affect the person’s ability to take care of themselves and result in reduced physical and social activities.  A simple fear of falling can limit activity and exercise so it’s important to ensure that we do everything we can to minimise the potential.

Falls can be devastating to the affected individual but are also expensive to manage. In particular, when associated with a fracture, they carry a high morbidity and mortality rate.  The consequence of falls and the elderly can also have significant economic consequences.  Current estimates are that falls cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year.

What causes a fall?

The natural ageing process means that older people have an increased risk of having a fall. In the UK, falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75.

There are a number of physical reasons why older people are more likely to have a fall:

  • balance problems and muscle weakness
  • poor vision
  • a long-term health condition, such as heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure (hypotension), which can lead to dizziness and a brief loss of consciousness

However, in more practical terms, there are many things that could cause someone to trip and injure themselves in and around the home, for example:

  • a wet or recently polished floor, such as in the bathroom
  • dim lighting in a room
  • rugs or carpets that are not properly secured
  • over reaching for something
  • moving too quickly to answer a phone or someone at the door
  • rushing to get to the toilet during the day or at night

So what can be done to reduce falls?

  • look around the home for and assess if there are any trip hazards such as loose rugs or staircases without railings
  • use high-wattage light bulbs
  • don’t wear loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
  • wear well-fitting shoes that deliver good support and make sure laces are tied properly
  • if dizziness is becoming a problem and you are taking medication, speak to your healthcare professional – dizziness can be a side effect of medication
  • have your vision checked annually as vision problems can also contribute to giddiness and poor vision make falls more likely
  • improve you balance to lessen the chances of a fall. Exercise is beneficial to the body and mind in many different ways and does not have to be high impact to be beneficial
  • remember that old saying ‘Use it or lose it!’ Keeping both the mind and body supple is key to maintaining independence. Balance training is not just for the currently mobile. Exercise plans can be tailored to suit those whose who want to improve balance as well as those who don’t want to lose it.

Otus Live-in Care has a register of over 250 experienced live-in carers who can look after every level of care from companionship to home from hospital recovery, right through to end of life care.  We are always happy to offer advice, without obligation.  Call the Otus Live-in Care team on 01403 710119.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLANNING CARE FOR LATER LIFE

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

Life expectancy is the highest it’s ever been.  A report published by Public Health England (PHE) earlier this year, found that life expectancy in England has risen to its highest ever level.

In West Sussex, people have a relatively high life expectancy, with male life expectancy at 79.9 years and female at 83.5 years, both slightly higher than the figures for England as a whole (ref.  West Sussex County Council).

As a lot of us are living longer and healthier lives and achieving a good quality of life for longer, it makes sense to think about our later life care needs before we need it.  But what are the options and where do we start?  Here are a few things you could consider.

Firstly, don’t rush into anything.  Speak to the people who know you best – your family and friends – and let them know that you are thinking about your future care needs.  What sort of help are you most likely to need?

Where will you live?  Where would you prefer to be cared for?  How can you best continue to enjoy your life, maintain independence and keep in touch with friends and family?  Could you make adjustments to your current home and stay at home with support from carers either by the hour or with 24 hour live-in care.  This could be privately funded.  Your local Social Services can give you advice and if you were eligible, could fund the care in your own home.

Another consideration could be ‘downsizing’, moving to a smaller more manageable property.  Developers are increasingly building new properties designed specifically for the over 55’s, offering facilities aimed at creating a community.  In some cases these developments have an on-site care manager who is available 24/7 for emergencies.

For some, residential care may be the best solution.  It is often the default solution but can be more expensive than engaging a live-in carer.  Our blog last month compared live-in with residential care .

Options for funding care can be quite confusing.  The Citizen’s Advice Bureau can offer lots of help and guidance, particularly when it comes to what you might be eligible for.  Here are some of the support options which could be available:

Attendance Allowance – if over 65 years of age and in need of help with personal care because of a physical or mental health problem, you could be entitled to a weekly sum of money to help.

Carer’s Allowance – if a friend or family member is spending more than 35 hours a week caring for you, an allowance of up to £62.10 a week could be available.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – both children and adults with long-term ill-health or a disability can benefit from this allowance to help with extra costs.

NHS Continuing Healthcare or NHS funded nursing care – if someone has complex medical problems or needs specialist nursing care, then an assessment can be made to check eligibility for a NHS Continuing Healthcare budget.  In some cases, personal health budgets are being introduced by the NHS enabling people to have more choice and control over the care they need.

Otus Live-in Care has a register of over 250 experienced live-in carers who can look after every level of care from companionship right through to end of life.  Whether you are doing some early planning for yourself, or have a need to consider live-in care for a loved one, we are always happy to offer our advice, without obligation.  Call the Otus Live-in Care team on 01403 710119.

LIVE-IN CARE OR RESIDENTIAL HOME?

LIVE-IN CARE IS PERSON CENTRED AND AFFORDABLE

cost1

We know we are biased, but, we genuinely believe that for the majority of people, there is no better option in old age or illness than being cared for by a dedicated carer, in your own home. It’s the reason we created our business.

Care home costs can vary widely across the UK depending on where you live and what type of care is needed.  Whether in West Sussex, Surrey or anywhere else across the southern half of the UK, average costs for a good quality care home are high, and increasing all the time.  Also, the final cost can also depend on whether a room is a single or shared, and even what the specific care needs are. For example, a care home is quite likely to add to its average fee to look after someone who has dementia.

Moving to a residential care home is often the default solution when someone needs additional care and support.  We recognise that residential care might be the only solution for some.  However, in our experience residential care homes often do not offer the continuity, quality of care, independence and lifestyle that can be delivered with one-to-one care in a client’s own home.  Additionally, when everything is considered, residential care it is often the more expensive option.  A report published by healthcare specialists Laing & Buisson in 2013/14, stated that depending on UK location, average weekly costs for residential care could cost from £962 per week.  Engaging a self-employed live-in carer starts from as little as £740 per week.

However, cost is only one aspect to consider.  We think you’ll agree that there are many advantages to live-in care that are not only difficult to put a monetary value on but simply can’t be matched by a care home as the following comparison shows.

RESIDENTIAL CARE HOME SELF-EMPLOYED LIVE-IN CARER
Loss of independence and unfamiliar

surroundings

Independence maintained in the comfort of own home
Varied continuity and level of care Companionship and continuity of care at all times
Varied carers, working on shifts, not always 24 hours a day Personally selected carers, delivering person-centred care, one-to-one, round the clock
Carers with varied skills provide care to a wide range of clients’ needs Carers skills matched to physical and mental needs of the client
Moving costs and stress of relocation No moving costs and eliminates associated stress of leaving one’s own home
Set menus at prescribed times Freedom to choose what and when to eat, meals cooked to personal choice
Personal pets are often not allowed Pets can remain at home with the client
Per bed charge and often a lack of availability for couples to share a room Special rates for couples – making live-in care far more competitively priced
Lack of privacy, often visiting times are fixed or limited. Visitors can come whenever you want and visits are private

So what do you think? What would you prefer for your parent, or indeed yourself as you get older? We think it’s pretty clear cut, but if you’ve got a different perspective or question about live-in care, we’d love to hear from you, without obligation.  Call the Otus Live-in Care team for more advice on 01403 710119.