Archive for July, 2013

5 Top Tips For Managing Care When Local Authority's Cut Funding

Meg’s eighty-five year old mother Violet had severe arthritis, a heart condition and was showing early signs of dementia. Home care support was arranged and funded by Social Services, and Meg and her sister took it in turns to support Violet on Sundays. When Social Services changed their criteria, Violet’s funding was reduced. Following reassessment by her social worker, shopping and a monthly visit to her sister were no longer funded.  Also, Meg’s request for support for her mother during the night in case she wandered into the road, was refused as was  considered a low risk because Violet had never actually left her home at night .009_old_woman_smiling_optimised[2]

Get help

Meg contacted Relative Matters to see if we could help. This is what we agreed together to ensure Violet’s needs were met:

Look for other ways to do things

Meg’s sister Rose could take her laptop and mobile broadband when she visited Violet each week. Then, she could go through what shopping her mother needed with her and place an order on-line. Delivery could be arranged for when Meg or Rose were with their mother so they could put her shopping away.

Reprioritise care  time

Meg had a demanding job, so was unable to take Violet to see her sister during the week when it was more convenient for her aunt. Meg could arrange to support her mother on one Saturday afternoon each month, which freed up some of the care worker’s time so that she could take Violet to see her sister during the week.

Use assistive technology

Meg could buy a Wander Minder and place it by Violet’s front door. This is a small unit with a motion sensor and timer that can be set to emit a pre recorded message at night telling her mother that it is unsafe for her to go out as it was nigh-time. Meg could also purchase a contact mat, which has a battery-operated transmitter designed to be placed under the front door mat. When stepped on, the mat triggers the transmitter and alerts the carer. As she lived nearby, Meg could respond quickly if her mother tried to leave the house.

Keep the older person at the centre

These measures combined, resolved the problem and provided the reassurance Meg and Rose needed.

Top Tips For Keeping Older People Safe From Bogus Callers During Summer

Did you see ‘Married to the job?’ It’s a documentary series following high-ranking female police officers, and the interaction between their work and home life. In the first episode, Detective Inspector Kay Lancaster lead an investigation into a ruthless team of criminals who victimise old people living alone.

It reminded me how vulnerable older people who live alone are, especially during the summer. A pensioner who lives alone, which presents an opportunity for a certain kind of criminal, occupies 1 in 8 households. It’s called ‘distraction burglary’ and targets the most vulnerable people in our society, not just older people, but those who have poor health or are living with dementia.

Why criminals prey on older people in the summer? Summer

Aids and equipment such as wheelchairs and walking frames act as magnets for criminals, who use a bogus identity like being from the Water Board to gain entry. They typically work in pairs; while one distracts the older person the other carries out the theft.

During the summer months, windows are more likely to be open providing an open invitation to criminals.

Top tips to keep your elderly relatives and community elders safe from bogus callers

  •  Ensure they have a chain fixed to their front door
  • Don’t leave aids and equipment outside their property
  • Place a note in large print by their front door reminding them not to let anyone they don’t know into their home without asking for proof of identity. Include important phone numbers such as 999, their local water board, gas and electricity supplier. If the older person is not sure, tell them not to let the person in and call the organisation they are supposed to be representing.
  • If the older person has dementia and is very forgetful, tell them not to let anyone they don’t know in before contacting you, another relative, friend or a neighbour and write the note to reinforce it. Write this on a note in large print by their front door.
  • Make sure ground floor windows have a lock on so the window can only be opened so far.

Age Uk publish a helpful booklet  ‘Avoiding Scams’ giving more information you may find helpful


No More Wandering

Many people with dementia can become anxious and impatient when alone, they lose track of time and need constant reminders about what is happening in their daily routine. This could be when waiting for a loved one to return from the shops, a carer to arrive or for a the local bus service to collect them. One reassuring invention is the Wander Minder – which looks like a large doorbell – from the experts at the BIME in Bath University, using quality sensors to register when a door is opened and plays a recordable message once the sensor has been set off. The message can be changed to meet the person’s needs and a timer can be set if they  only wander at certain times of day or night.wanderreminder

So, for example, if the older person gets anxious that the bus hasn’t turned up yet and so gets up to leave the house. Upon opening the door the sensor goes off and the monitor will say (in a familiar voice) ‘No need to go out Dorothy, the bus will be here soon. Go and sit back down.’

The Wander Minder can be used for many other reasons. I used one for my mother who has dementia and kept forgetting to turn her catheter tap off when she emptied the bag. We just positioned the gadget on the wall in the cloakroom and when she stood up from emptying the bag, a motion sensor would trigger the message ” Don’t forget to to turn the cap to the right” This kept Mum out of a residential care for less than a year!

More information can be found on the BIME website  – but I will hopefully be selling these products directly very soon so watch this space!


Emma’s Story

Emma had been concerned about her mother Martha for a while, because she had been showing signs of dementia, such as repeating questions to Emma and becoming confused when she carried out basic tasks like preparing scrambled eggs or making toast. Eventually Martha was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

Caring for an older person bigstock-Old-And-Young-Hands-11671895

At first Emma and her sister took turns to stay with their mother but soon found they could not keep it up. They contacted Relative Matters, an elderly care consultancy, who found a small day centre not far away, which specialised in looking after people with dementia and arranged for her mother to attend, five days a week. This enabled Emma to continue her career as a physiotherapist and her sister to spend more time looking after her husband, who recently had a stroke. When Martha attended the day centre, Emma and her sister knew their mother was safe, socially stimulated and receiving nourishing food and regular drinks.

As her mother’s disease progressed, Relative Matters arranged for regular carers from an agency to provide care and support for her mother before and after she attended the day centre as well as during the evening and at weekends.

Providing consistent care

To help provide consistency, Emma was advised to set up a care journal for her mother. Whoever was with Martha, would record the important details of their shift, such as food eaten, fluids consumed, bowel and bladder movements, activities accomplished and other relevant information.

Emma, her sister and the care workers became proficient at using the hospital bed and hoist provided by the district nurse, a wheelchair, wheelchair ramps and a food processor to prepare easy to chew, soft food as Martha had chosen not to wear her dentures. Relative Matters arranged for Meals on Wheels to be delivered on a Saturday to give Emma a break from preparing food and free up time to take her mother out.

A peaceful death

When her mother became ill with pneumonia, Emma took special leave from work and moved in to look after her. During Martha’s last forty-eight hours of life, she was loved and comforted by Emma and her sister, attended by the district nurse and heard her son’s voice over the phone, all the way from Australia.