By Debbie le Quesne

Posts Tagged ‘dementia care

Unveiling the myths about care

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That great advocate for those pressing on in years, Age UK, has recently made headlines saying social care in this country is in crisis and is calling on the government to implement much-needed change.

But care is a mystery to many of us, the organisation says, and has examined five key areas that are commonly misunderstood to try and help explain the social care system better.

So here’s their piece and I would advocate all over-55s should be reading this.

1. The costs of care

The common misconception: It’s free isn’t it?

The truth: Care isn’t free and it’s easy to confuse healthcare services (which are free of charge) and social care services.

Social care is means-tested which means that, if you have income or wealth, you may be asked to contribute or pay in full for services.

Many people pay for care privately by directly arranging support with a provider organisation. People who receive support through a Local Authority may also be charged.

In England, if you are moving into a care home and have more than £23,250 in savings or assets (including your property, if no one else lives there), you will usually have to pay the full cost for the care home fees.

If you have less than £23,250, or your spouse or another dependent still lives in your home, you may qualify for council-funded care. The rules setting out how these payments work are set nationally by the Government.

You can also be charged for home care services, although the value of your house is not taken into account in this case. Local Authorities use national guidance for charging for home care services, but they are allowed to use their discretion and local charges and capital limits can vary.

2. Home help

The common misconception: Councils can provide home helps

The truth: Many councils now provide care only to people who have high levels of care needs. This is because in many areas demand for services outstrips the available funding, and so people with higher needs are the first priority.

People with lower needs can arrange to have help with domestic tasks such as washing and cleaning, but it’s likely these would have to be arranged privately rather than through a council.

3. Care workers’ skills

The common misconception: Care staff are unskilled

Caring is a skilled profession, although, unfortunately, many care workers receive low levels of pay. Providing care is a difficult job and the sector is full of excellent care workers, social workers, advice workers and care coordinators.

Social workers and care home managers are required to have specific qualifications before they are allowed to practise and many other workers need to have on-going training to develop their skills.

However, it’s not all about paper qualifications: the best care workers are those skilled in listening and engaging with older people so that they understand their needs better and can provide tailored support.

4. Paying for care

The common misconception: My home will be taken away from me if I need care

The truth: For some people the value of their house will be taken into account when charges are made for care services.

However, there are many people who will not be affected by these rules. For example, someone’s home is not taken into account in the means test for home care services.

Likewise, if there is a partner or dependent relative living in the property it remains outside of the residential care means test.

There are also other options available to people who do need to use the value of their property to pay for care fees.

Local Authorities are able to offer people a deferred payment, where the council agrees to provide funding as a loan, which is repaid when the property is sold at a later date. This helps residents who do not wish to sell their former home immediately.

Alternatively, some people choose to rent out an empty property, using the income to support with the care home fees.

5. Choice of care

The common misconception: There is no choice of services – you get what you’re given

The truth: Councils are increasingly designing services so that individuals are placed at the centre of the care arrangements, with full choice and control about what services and support they use to meet their assessed needs.

People who are eligible for support are allocated a ‘personal budget’ and can receive it as a cash payment, or ask the council to arrange the support that they want.

This is known as personalisation. It means that individuals work alongside the professionals to set up a care package that they are really happy with.


A good life with dementia: Keys for a brighter future

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Reports, reports and more reports . . . my desk is awash with them and my laptop groaning under the strain of Word documents.

It’s Friday and it should be happy because for many of the weekend’s almost here. But I’m feeling a little flat, bruised even, after the recent run of negative headlines in the Press.

Add to that my personal obligation to try to keep abreast of all the breaking news, latest industry gossip and legal updates, it doesn’t make the most palatable cocktail.

What I really wanted was a shot in the arm with inspiring, good news. Tempted by the title – A Good Life with Dementia – I set about reviewing the lasted piece of work commissioned by Red & Yellow Care. It outlines a six-part framework for enabling a ‘good life’ with dementia.

The publication of the report coincides with the launch of the new service, Red & Yellow Care, which uniquely offers specialist, dementia care tailored to the client. The report draws on the expertise and insights of those working in the field and six themes were identified.

Not surprisingly, the study showed that 43 per cent of people polled don’t think it’s possible to live a good life with dementia.

So let me tell you what the target areas of the report are . . .

  • How to better support people with dementia to maintain their sense of uniqueness and personal identity (Respecting identity: ‘It’s not one size fits all’)
  • Achieving the right balance between memory-based activities and enjoying the here and now (Embracing now: ‘It’s a moment-living life’)
  • Ensuring people with dementia are able to experience meaningful human connections (Sustaining relationships: ‘You don’t always need words’)
  • Ensuring people with dementia are able to experience a full range of emotions (Valuing contrast: ‘Good days and bad days’)
  • Taking risks – what are we protecting people with dementia from? (Supporting agency: ‘What’s there to worry about?’)
  • Promoting good overall health for those who are living with dementia including physical and emotional wellbeing (Maintaining health: ‘My priority in life’)


The report also examines the areas that people in the UK feel are important contributors to happiness such as independence (91%), freedom to take risks (65%), being supported and cared for (91%), living in the moment (94%) and not living in the past (72%).


The Good Life with Dementia report was funded by Red & Yellow Care and published in association with Alzheimer’s Society with a view of encouraging debate.

“What’s striking is that this new framework is actually just stating the obvious. It’s about the things we all take for granted, but which are eclipsed by the panic, fear and stigma that have come to surround dementia. We need to get back to core principles if we’re going to enable people with dementia to see past their fear, and make the most of what is potentially a long, rich and rewarding time of life,” said Dr Bahbak Miremadi, Founding Director of Red & Yellow Care.

I agree wholeheartedly.

The report also identifies three main barriers that exist to help people live well with dementia: diagnosis, public awareness and the need to improve care flexibility.

I seem to have read most of this before and it really does state the obvious. For people with the memory-loss condition and their families and carers, the report may offer pointers. Of course, the problem here is that there’s never going to be a neat model of achieving best outcomes as the disease is as individual as its victims’ response to therapies.

Good life with dementia – I really hope that we can achieve that and I applaud every last step taken to target this outcome. Sun’s out, forecast reasonable . . . have a great weekend.

The Good Life with Dementia report is available to download from www.redandyellowcare.com/goodlife.

Dementia, the news headlines and how we can we help?

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Dementia is big news at present – and I mean massive. Our TVs are full of programmes revealing the true extent of the problem and the varied attempts at solutions.

Last night was no different with the Tonight team from ITV broadcasting Living with Dementia,

By 2021 the number of people living with dementia will reach about a million, with one in three living today developing the memory-loss condition.

It’s also estimated that almost all families will be affected.

Rightly so, the Prime Minister has called it a “national crisis” and has promised to double the budget for research into the condition.

And I would join a growing lobby of people who would say to the PM that he needs to match his good intentions with hard cash and fund the resources needed to deal with the crisis.

Despite little funding coming on to the frontline of caring for dementia sufferers, the government says it is committed to tackling the problem and is increasing research funding to £66m next year.

And they speak of hopes of a cure by 2025.

Last night’s footage featured producer Becky Colls’ grandmother, who has had to move to sheltered accommodation because of her Alzheimer’s.

What surprised – indeed, shocked me – were the small numbers of specialist Admiral Nurses who care for dementia sufferer. Just 117 throughout the country and apparently they’re funded locally, because the government thinks it’s best the way as their numbers can be tailored to regional demand.

Well, let me say – it’s not working! Why? Because the local authorities have not got any budget to fund such appointments. And where does the budget come from? We all know!

The programme highlighted Playlist for Life, a new initiative aiming to stimulate memories through music therapy. It’s not a new concept, but the programme showed two families playing uniquely personal music to their loved ones to try improve communication with them. The results were wonderful.

Also in focus was a vitamin B trial that appeared to slow down memory loss in the early stages of dementia.

With Dementia Awareness Week is looming (May 18th to May 24th) it’s a good time to reflect on how we all can help.

We can’t replace professionals, but we can become a Dementia Friend. See http://www.dementiafriends.cog.uk

For info: Admiral Nursing DIRECT helpline – 0845 257 9406 or emaildirect@dementiauk.org

MP helping to keep dementia ball in play

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Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke has been busy this week attempting to keep the national dementia issue in focus.

On Tuesday he tabled a debate in the Commons calling for the improvement of dementia care in the UK Hardly surprising, he praised David Cameron’s initiative to host the G8 summit on Dementia.

But Shelbrooke suggested that there is much to do before there is public confidence that everyone living with dementia will be able to live a fulfilled life.

It’s kind of stating the obvious, but I’m not complaining – any attempt to keep the dementia ‘ball’ in play can do no harm.

With an aging population it is estimated that by 2021, 1 million people will be living with dementia – up from 800,000 today.

Shelbrooke also called for the National Dementia Strategy to be updated, making the case for an increased research, programmes for earlier diagnoses and further investigation into the effectiveness of homocysteine testing.

He cited inspiring examples of good dementia care in his own constituency of Elmet & Rothwell, and said that care home approached to the problem had developed immensely but his overall message was one of continually moving the dementia care/research issue forward.

Shelbrooke’s Adjournment debate was never going to create screaming headlines but I applaud the ‘you in your small corner and me in mine’ approach.

As a friend of the Alzheimer’s Society, it’s hardly surprising that he drew a comment from Dr Alison Cook, Director of External Affairs, with the society.

Reported in the Care Industry News online magazine, she says: “It’s encouraging to see government recognising the need for a refreshed national dementia strategy for England.

“Dementia is a major health challenge costing the UK £23 billion per year and was rightly chosen as the focus of the G8 Summit. We’re really pleased that the government is signalling that they will develop a new strategy to build on the really positive work done so far for people with dementia. It’s vital that the government now takes the necessary steps to develop a new plan and ensure real change for people with dementia.”

A visit to most of my member’s care homes could find those with some kind of dementia. Caring for them is notoriously difficult and the progression of the disease takes a huge toll on their families.

The Alzheimer’s Society is dedicated to defeating this awful problem and it seems our coalition is too (but not at the expense of such projects like HS2 – a £50bn project that I fear is more to do with vanity than need).

Dementia – provision needs proper funding too

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Yesterday our televisions were full of the news that the government is doubling the funding for Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.

And Mr Cameron has asked world health chiefs to come to the UK and discuss how a solution can be found to the globally predicted figure of 135 million by 2050.

The Prime Minister has pledged to increase the £66m research budged targeted for 2015 to £122m in 2025.

Not surprisingly, he Alzheimer’s Society is calling for a seven-fold increase in an attempt to play catch-up on research.

It’s an interesting promise, perhaps on behalf of government where he is not the PM. Distant promises always make me suspicious and especially if they’re made by politicians.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Breakfast was optimistic about the “summit “proposal and if this does happen I believe it’s the sensible way ahead.

Alzheimer’s disease affects around 500,000 people in the UK but it is believed that only 45 per cent of people with dementia in the UK have a diagnosis.

In our care sector the need for speicialised dementia care is ever-growing. Commissioners are crying out for good placements, homes where carers have training to understand and deal with the difficulties of dementia care.

Undoubtedly, entrepreneurs will see this developing marketplace as worthy opportunity to invest, but only if sufficient funding on beds is made available.

Emotive language banded about by some politicians and others doesn’t help either. I keep seeing reference to “the dementia plague”. Who really would want their loved-on to be in a residential care setting with other “plague” victims? It all sounds horribly apocalyptic or Medieval.

Specialist dementia care homes are thin on the ground and even more so are those which address the challenging behaviour that dementia can bring.

With the demands for more staff, more training and greater provision from the private sector, comes the inevitable question: Where is the money coming from?

Im left asking: Who will look after all these millions of patients that will have dementia by 2025 and how will their care be funded? True, research needs to be funded and funded generously, but so do the incentives to bring about the care supply with this ever-increasing demand.

Tasty care is on the menu for dementia sufferers

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It’s Friday, the sun’s out as I’m scribbling this blog and we are not at war with Syria. All good, considering the other options that may well have emerged.

But just to put the icing on the cake, I have stumbled on a lovely story about a care setting where a series of “Come Dine with Me” themed evenings are being held to help people with dementia and their carers enjoy the experience of eating out together.

Staff at Bield’s Whitehill Court in Kirkintilloch have set up “Mary’s Kitchen” where carers and people who use service can come and eat from a special menu in the complex’s dining room.

The TV programme-inspired monthly evenings are being created in memory of Mary Abel who worked at the Bield day support service for 18 years as an assistant manager.

For those with dementia, eating out in restaurants can often be a difficult and challenging experience for them and their carers because of the unfamiliar environment.

It is hoped that by providing a dining out experience within recognisable surroundings, they will be able to relax to spend quality time with their loved ones.

This is so heartening. Already my head is buzzing with ideas.

Rhona Forrest, service manager at Whitehill Court, is quoted in the Care Industry News online magazine: “People with dementia can’t always go out to restaurants as it can be a very stressful and sometimes an embarrassing experience for them.

“We wanted to take away this stress by creating a special restaurant within the service so people can come and relax because they know where they are. Our staff will also be on hand throughout the evenings to help with any difficulties and ensure everyone can enjoy the family experience of eating meals together.”

“The venture has been created in memory of Mary Able who worked here for 18 years. She knew about the project before she passed away and absolutely loved it. She was always keen to get the service users involved and wanted families to spend more time together, which hopefully will happen with these evenings.

“Mary’s family are delighted that we have created the evening in memory of her as we all know how happy she would be to be involved in such a positive initiative.”

Whitehill Court was awarded £20,000 of funding from Shared Care Scotland which will pay for the “Come Dine with Me” service to run for one year and an additional service where two evenings a week, five residents will get to go out for dinner as an extension to their day care.

This is truly the kind of care that enriches lives and supports both carers and those they look after. It’s worth? Priceless.

Enjoy the weekend. Golf beckons.

Dementia guide ‘first’ published

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A year ago an all-party parliamentary group commissioned to study the far-reaching issues of dementia published the Unlocking Diagnosis report.

A year on and as a direct result of its shocking findings, a new booklet to help guide people diagnosed with dementia and their carers was launched yesterday by Alzheimer’s Society.

The guide, a first of its kind, offers advice to help people come to terms with their diagnosis and plan ahead.

I was appalled to discover that the all-party report found that many people said ‘nothing’ happened after the initial diagnosis.

The guide will also offer GPs and psychiatrists the opportunity to provide people with dementia carers at the point of diagnosis.

How good is this!

Whilst diagnosis rates are increasing, some doctors still appear reluctant to diagnose the disease, Currently, more than 50 per cent (428,000) of people living with dementia still do not have a formal diagnosis.

The dementia guide, has been part-funded by the Department of Health.

It tackles the emotional impact of a diagnosis and drug regimes, ande; signposts services available.

The guide is available free of charge and to order visit alzheimers.org.uk/dementiaguide  or phone 0300 303 5933.

NHS professionals should order direct from NHS England’s Health and Social Care Publications Orderline (using product code 872).

A raft of advice on how to navigate the help systems is included, including financial support.

Diagnosis of dementia is truly daunting and the disease’s progression challenging. Please make use of this invaluable free tool.