By Debbie le Quesne

Archive for May 2013

Youngsters’ dementia work takes centre stage in Sandwell

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ImageYoungsters at a Sandwell school have been learning about dementia and presented their work as part of a care sector educational promotion at The Public.

The Sandwell Dementia Friendly Event provided a platform for different agencies to work together so that those diagnosed with the memory-loss condition could ultimately have more choices and control over their lives.

As part of the initiative WMCA had been commissioned by Sandwell Council to produce a comprehensive collection of possible stimulating activities aimed to help care home owners in their activities programming and the recording of residents’ responses.

The multi-cultural information proved hugely popular at the WMCA stand, but the highlight of the day for me was a piece of artwork created by pupils from Crocketts Lane Primary School in Swethwick. Their dementia ‘wall’ imagery (pictured) showed how by patiently building memory links it could be broken through. The youngsters also presented a poem about the disease.

I was thrilled at the insight the children had and heartened that dementia and its many implications could be part of the school curriculum.

Clearly, if we are going to make places like Sandwell a better place to live for those with dementia, we need to deal with prejudices and what better way than in the school classroom.

I applaud the teachers of Crocketts Lane Primary. Thank you!

Dementia poem

For most of us in Year 4

We had not heard of dementia before

We started learning what it meant

It’s when you start to forget


To begin with it was hard to see

We were told it’s about your memory

You become muddled and confused

Forgetting the name of things onced used


You may forget how to dress

That made us smile, we confess

Then we began to learn some more

And realised it’s not like a sore


It’s not something you can bandage and cure

It will only get worse, that is for sure

Remembering people, places and things

Fluttering from your mind as if they had wings


Slowly we began to know

How we could help and show

Patience, sharing time and images

Looking at photos building back memories


We didn’t quite understand

How important it could be to hold your hand

Or take some time to read with you

Your favourite story as if it was new


Every minute we can share

Could help to show how much we care

We can always start again

And talk about ‘what happened and when’


Tricky questions on the care capping issue

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There’s a million-dollar question that’s forever being asked about the funding of care regarding just how the new £72,000 capping level is going to be rolled out by April 2016.

It’s a gigantic job and the logistics are complex.

The principle of introducing a capped cost was outlined in the Care Bill with the aim to provide financial help for people currently facing catastrophic care costs.

The government’s intention is to assess all the self-funders already receiving care who ask to have their costs applied towards the cap.

An assessment framework is within the Bill and all eligible people will have a personal care account which will monitor their progress towards the cap.

The Guardian online, with the help of Laing & Buisson and Nick Kirwan, director of ILC-UK Care Funding Advice Network, poses the burning question of how this will be be implemented before April 2016.

It’s not a lightweight piece, but care providers will be in the vanguard of this change, so it’s well worth the read. Care managers will be the ones quizzed over the details of this self-funding ceiling, believe me.

According to Laing & Buisson, there were 175,000 people in residential care (43.4 per cent) in 2012 who paid the full cost without support from their local authority.

Issues raised in the piece include:

  • How many will apply to have their care costs accrue towards the cap and what will be the demand on local authority resources?
  • Fears that this exercise could have an adverse effect on the care sector.
  • How will the facts and the process be communicated, so that people are clear about whether or not to apply?
  • What about people who lack mental capacity?
  • What of the so-call ‘accommodation cots’ not counting towards care?
  • Self-funders should be assessed immediately before April 2016 so that they don’t miss out on any qualifying costs. Could this create a traffic jam in the system in March 2016?
  • How will the queuing system work?

Just for good measure there’s a bunch of other Pandora’s Box questions too. I’m dreading 2016 unless the government really gets its act together.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/social-care-network/2013/may/28/how-to-implement-care-bill

National Open Day – please get on board

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The UK’s care homes are to stage a national open day – great news, but only if we are prepared to join this groundbreaking initiative.

Already homes from Scotland to Cornwall are making plans for the event on 21 June which aims to encourage communities to visit their local care homes and to connect residents and communities together.

It is hoped that as many care homes as possible will join the and it is open to any care home, regardless of whether it is council run, or independent.

For far too long the care home sector has been marred by the negative Press generated by a small number of badly run homes, and here’s an opportunity to show people what residential care is really about.

And this fantastic opportunity gives a chance to make new friends, turn distant neighbours into part of the community in which we live, show the world what good care is and to do something to give us a voice.

At a meeting of our West Midlands Care Association directors last week I was reminded of Sir Digby Jones’s words ten years ago about the care sector. He said: “We are at five to midnight and still don’t have a voice in the corridors of power.”

Although we are much better at presenting a corporate face, there’s still much to do and this event is just one way we can do it.

Don’t you want the world to know that care homes really can be inspiring places, full of unique, intelligent and charming characters, and run by special people that really do care?

The time is now to build thousands of friendships, to change long-held perceptions, to create thousands of memories, and to have a fantastic day that will enrich lives.

Helping to make it all happen are Anchor, Barchester, BUPA, Care UK, Four Seasons Healthcare, HC-One, Care Forum Wales, English Community Care Association (ECCA), Independent Health Care Providers (Northern Ireland), National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People (NAPA), the National Care Forum (England), and Scottish Care

A spokesman for the group said: “The home is free to put on any activities that they think will attract their local community into their homes and we are looking forward to dispelling some of the myths about residential care and showing local people what excellent services are at the heart of their community.”

Please, please, please get involved and if you’re having an event let us know and we’ll post it on our Facebook page. Send out newsletters, emails, put up posters . . . tell the world and its wife we have something amazing to offer.

I am determined to make some positive noise about our care homes, and I so want all of us to be part of it! Stage an event, big it up and let’s be seen and heard.

Dudley in national spotlight for care approach

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Dudley’s Making it Real approach to changing the face of social care in the borough has won praise from the Department of Health.

It’s pioneering approach to supporting people with dementia will be showcased nationally next month and the Department of Health’s new Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships, Jon Rouse, will visit the town on June 7 to see the groundbreaking work taking place.

Mr Rouse has publicly praised Dudley’s approach on developing dementia services at a recent national event.

It is expected he will visit a number of care settings across the borough.

The itinerary will take in Roseville Dementia Gateway in Coseley, one of the three borough Dementia Gateways, which all provide care and support for those affected by dementia.

The Making it Real Initiative is supported by the West Midlands Care Association, with myself heading up a Quality Group that is tasked with finding a new way to rate care performance.

Interestingly, one of the most visited blogs and Facebook pieces was about this project, and for those who recall it really is “the second hardest job I have ever had.”

What encourages me most is the fact that the local authority has come into the national spotlight. The top brass don’t get much bigger than Mr Rouse and clearly he has recognised the work being done to roll out this drive for community to have a great input in shaping care.

The dementia gateway approach is part of the way Dudley Council is transforming social care.

More information on Making It Real in Dudley visit www.makingitrealindudley.org

Brave TV show risk for disabled Raymond pays off

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Promoted as an uplifting piece of television, Channel 4’s The Undatables was destined to polarise opinion.

The series followed the journey of a number of disabled people trying to find love.

Was it, as one critic said, “a Victorian circus freak show” or was it “sensitive and kind,” the opinion of another TV writer.

My initial response was apprehensive. But after stumbling on an article about one of the show’s candidate my ‘Jury out’ opinion has changed.

Love it, or hate it, the programme certainly broke a taboo.

More than two and a half million tuned in to watch the progress of these selected people deemed ‘undatable’ due to some form of disability or disfigurement, ranging from brittle bones to Asperger’s.

For one of them, the experience has been life-changing, catapulting him to a kind of stardom.

Raymond Johnson told a national newspaper: “The day after The Undateables was shown, I was on the way to work and came out from the station, a person driving a car hooted and started doing a Leeds salute. Then when I was waiting to get on the bus, someone took their phone out and took my picture.”

He agreed to take part in the show to help challenge viewers’ opinions on the disabled – but did not expect the celebrity status, which followed.

Three months on from the broadcast of the latest series, he is still being recognized. People stop to chat to him or pose for photographs. “I love it,” he said. “I love a bit of the limelight.”

The Updateable followed Raymond, an ardent Leeds United fan, as he tried to find a new girlfriend after his fiance, Lolita, called off their engagement.

Although the programme attracted criticism for the way it was marketed, it proved a hit and the series was praised for its “warm and inclusive” tone.

The positive response from many viewers, he feels, proves it was worth putting himself through the experience.

Raymond hit back at comments by one TV critic who said the participants in the show were vulnerable and should have been protected from exploitation.

“It is wrong to make assumptions about people with learning difficulties,” he said. “I don’t think I’m vulnerable.”

His stand was a risky one, but I suspect he is okay with viewers tittering over some of the issues raised.

I cannot argue about the ethics of this material – the issues are far too complex for a late hour on a Thursday evening, but I’m grateful that these brave ‘celebrities’ spoke openly about their disabilities and love.

If the programme makers wanted entertainment, they succeeded; if they desired to stimulate debate, that too is an on-going success.

History teaches that society has never handled disabilities well. I can only hope the huge audiences the programme drew will help make for a more enlightened future.

Written by debbielq

May 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Small projects leading revolution in social care

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Small enterprises are helping to prepare the way in which local care services are delivered into Dudley’s community.

This week Sarah Goudie’s bread2share project for people living with learning disabilities made national headlines.

Set up 18 months ago, the project based at the Queens Cross Network on Wellington Road, helps clients make bread.

“The people I see are able to work with a creative process and learn how to make bread, and see the end result of their work, and they always find it very satisfying and enjoyable,” Sarah told The Guardian newspaper.

She added: “It can have therapeutic value for people with different conditions, for example, I was teaching an elderly man with dementia last week, and he was absolutely delighted when he made his first two loaves.”

Sarah is one of a number of people who have set up micro-enterprises – small businesses employing up to four people – in Dudley, West Midlands, to deliver more care to elderly people and other vulnerable groups.

All the project are community focused and Dudley Council provides financial and business support as part of its goal to develop more personalised, community-bases social care. The Dudley Innovation Fund awards “kickstart” funding grants of £2,000 and “progression” funds of up to £10,000, The Guardian article said.

I find the initiative heartening and it’s certainly a creative way of saving cash. However, the savings, according to the article, are estimated at only 10 per cent.

Excuse me if I sound a little cynical, but despite its noble ethos, in real terms the returns are small.

But of course the council says focus should be on gaps in provision and flexible delivery, rather than saving money (Matt Bowsher, assistant director of quality and commissioning – The Guardian).

Of course money saving is the big driver.

Is this care on the cheap? The Guarding says the council is supporting about 40 micro-providers.

One question I do have: Are these services regulated by CQC . . ? Unfortunately the article doesn’t shed any light on this matter.

Want to know more? Read the news item posted on our website.

Where the old look after the older . . .

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As the West struggled to find a solution to fund care for its growing ageing population, China is pioneering a new solution – the old looking after the even older.

Two years short of 70, Zhang Guosheng spends his days caring for an 81-year-old fellow villager – washing his clothes, bringing meals to his bed, and keeping him company – a routine he’ll keep up until he himself needs the type of care he is now giving.

Nation news agency Reuters reports that Zhang, an enthusiastic dancer. Would traditionally have been cared for by his children, but an influx of aspiring youth into cities is changing traditions.

“We are very happy here,” says Zhang of the Qiantun village in northern China’s Hebei.

Surrounded by green wheat fields that stretch across a flat plain, Qiantun is unremarkable among countless rural Chinese communities, but its old-age care model is now a prototype cited by his government as a solution to the daunting challenge of caring for a vast and rapidly greying rural population.

One of every four Chinese will be older than 60 by 2030, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The formal eldercare system in rural areas is very weak, and basically a blank spot in many places, the Chinese administration says and costs of caring for China’s rapidly expanding elderly population are likely to be too heavy a burden for the government.

This social tension has birthed the self-help model practiced among the 1,500 residents of Qiantun and it offers a cheaper and streamlined alternative to a state-run system.

The practice of old people taking care of each other posed a simple and attractive solution for the Chinese government.

Labelled “mutual assist eldercare,” the Feixiang model is set to be expanded to the rest of rural China, with 3 billion yuan ($490 million) set aside by the central government to get it started over the coming three years.

With few political, social and economic solutions being tabled in the UK, perhaps the Cabinet would consider a similar model. After all, there is a growing ‘workforce’ (many spritely) and a good number of ‘charges’ for them to care for.

At the Qiantun villager centre, “old” Zhang, as he is known, talks about the future as he brings food  and medicine to the bedside of his charge, bedridden by a broken thigh bone.

“He can’t move around now, I help him,” said a still spry Zhang. “When I can’t move, someone will also care for me.”

His faith in future care seems naïve and simplistically hopeful. If any nation can pull off this prototype of caring, China can.

Anyone fancy a retirement village in rural northern China’s Hebei province?