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Elderly Care: Time for Change

21.02.2011 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

Last week major news publications on and off-line called for attention to a series of accusations against the NHS. The Health Service Ombudsman upheld 10 complaints against the NHS for failing to meet the most basic standards of care for older people.

We have all been horrified by the reports from the health sector watchdog. It showed clear evidence that nurses and doctors denied to provide basic medical and caring assistance to elderly people in NHS hospitals. Elderly patients were left hungry, thirsty, unwashed, in soiled clothes, and without adequate pain relief.

It makes me wonder why on Earth anyone could do such things to another human being, especially when you have chosen that career. I always thought that doctors and nurses choose their careers because they care for others and are willing to help people under any circumstance.

What is going on with our doctors and nurses? Are they not being paid enough? Or the system has been saturated with unqualified professionals that have chosen such careers just for the money and benefits?

It can’t be a question of money as the New Labour has pumped billions in extra resources into healthcare. Perhaps it could be a matter of size. With 1.3 million employees working for the National Health System whose impersonal structures mitigate against the development of real bonds between individual staff and patients.

Whatever the problem is it is time for a change and we can’t let our loved ones be treated this way. We must not forget that we all get older and if we don’t call for change now we could be the ones sitting in a lonely hospital bed hungry and soaked in our own urine.

Have your say in the Government's Consultation on the DLA

11.02.2011 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

First of all for those of you who don’t know what the DLA is, it is the abbreviation of Disability Living Allowance. The Government has launched a consultation to replace it as a new form of benefit called the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The DLA has nothing to do with the Carer’s Allowance but it is a vital benefit for disabled people, as it provides tax-free financial support for disabled people if they have care or mobility needs – it is not related to their ability to work.

If the government replaces the DLA carers will be affected directly as they can only claim Carer’s Allowance if they are caring for someone who gets the Disability Living Allowance or the Attendance Allowance, which will not be affected by the proposed new changes.

The major carers associations in Britain accepts that the DLA should ne revised and some elements reformed but it is not in compliance it should be replaced by the Personal Independence Allowance. A lot needs to be clarified before it is replaced, for instance no assessment has been published on how the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment or the £1 billion reduction in the DLA budget would affect Carer’s Allowance claimants. Imagine families who rely on these benefits losing carers and disability benefits.

Carers UK, Britain’s biggest and most influential Carers association is calling other carers, disabled people and other groups to have their say in this consultation. Here is what they suggest you can do:

All you need to do is write a quick email to the Government at the address below, including some details about your circumstances or, if you are a local group, case study details of a carer you support, and state why you are worried about these proposals. Here’s what to write in your email:

1. Say who you are and who you care for and that you are very concerned about losing Carer’s Allowance because the person you care for might lose their benefits

2. Explain why you are worried (Do you think the person you care for is at risk of losing their DLA? Do they have a condition that changes and a medical professional might assess them on a good day and fail to take account of the worse times? Do you care for someone with a mental health condition or a learning disability which you are worried might not be assessed properly by a medical professional?).

3. Explain what impact losing Carer’s Allowance would have on you (would you be worried about paying your basic bills, or affording to do anything for yourself, or would it mean caring was unaffordable for you and you couldn’t carry on.

4. State that you believe the Government should not be making cuts of £1 billion to disability benefits because of the devastating consequences it could have for disabled people and carers like you.

5. Say that it you believe that Carer’s Allowance must remain outside of the Universal Credit. Carer’s save the UK £87 billion every year with the care they provide and it would be wrong to take away Carer’s Allowance from some carers by means-testing it, as this would leave some carers without any recognition of their contribution.

Email this to the Department of Work and Pensions at consultation.dlareform@dwp.gsi.gov.uk (or David.Doherty@dsdni.gov.uk in Northern Ireland) and send a copy to your MP (you can email them by entering your postcode into www.writetothem.com).

For more information visit: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2010/dla-reform.shtml

Caring for Elderly Incontinent Patients

01.02.2011 | Posted in: Advice, Carers, Incontinence | Author: Samantha Hall

Despite what many people think incontinence is not a problem that comes with age. It is indeed more prominent in elderly people due to certain health factors that we only experience as we get older. Incontinence, Bladder Weakness, Leaking Bladder, what ever you want to call it, it’s nothing to be ashamed off and in many cases it is treatable.

Caring for a loved one can be both an intensely difficult but at the same time rewarding experience. You may learn things about yourself you may never have realised, such as your ability to be patient and your capacity for love and compassion.

With caring comes great responsibilities be it on a professional or personal level. One of the biggest issues carers face when looking after older people is incontinence.

Changing diapers, wet bed sheets etc, is not a pleasant task to do on a daily basis but it has to done in order to provide a better quality of life for those with bladder weaknesses. Nowadays incontinence products have evolved and they not only provide more protection and discretion to the wearer but they are also easier to handle, hence disposable incontinence products.

Disposable incontinence products range from disposable diapers through to bed sheets or bed protections and can be bought at any pharmacy, drug store or even online.

Many adults who experience incontinence often feel embarrassed about their condition. Any carer who works closely with incontinent adults can help improve their daily life by making them feel better about their condition. There are a many ways that to help the person you care for feel better about bladder weakness.

The first thing to do is to let them know it is a common condition experienced by many people of their age. Did you know that Incontinence and Bladder problems affect about 6 million people in the UK?

Knowing that there are others experiencing the same problems and they are not alone often makes them feel better about themselves.

Nothing to be ashamed of

Carers can significantly reduce the emotional concerns over bladder weakness/ incontinence by helping their loved ones feel less ashamed and being sensitive to their concerns.

Build up their confidence

Keeping initial outings short can help to build their confidence in how continence can be managed away from the home. After a few trips to nearby destinations, they will feel more comfortable about travelling further and for longer periods.

Caring for elderly incontinent people requires huge amounts of comprehension and patience but with a lot of understanding you can help them feel better about incontinence and get back to doing the things they enjoy.

Carers Rights Guide – Looking After Someone 2010/11

07.01.2011 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

The biggest problem with carers today is that many don’t even realise they are one. Many think of themselves as simply mums, dads, brothers, daughters, wife, partners and friends. In other words, close related people that are caring for their loved ones.

Did you know that one in every eight adults in the UK is a carer? Or that every year, over 2 million people become carers for the first time without even realising they’ve become a carer?

With that in mind, every year Carers UK launches a guide to inform these people that they are entitled to financial and practical help. The guide is an overview of carer’s entitlements with all the basics new carers need to get started. But mainly the guide wants to pass the message to carers that they are not alone.

“I hope this guide will reassure you that you are not alone and help you prepare for what might lie ahead.” Don Brereton, Chair of Carers UK

The guide is more like a booklet and highlights 7 key steps every carer should take in order to get all the support they are entitled to. Whether they are new to caring or been looking after someone for a long time.

You can download the guide here or ask for free copies by calling this number 0808 808 7777.

New rights for million of carers

14.12.2010 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

The first of October 2010 will be marked as a historical day for UK carers. Thanks to Equality Act 2010, millions of unpaid carers gained new rights; they cannot be directly discriminated against or harassed because they are caring for disabled people.

The Equality Bill introduces four important new opportunities for carers:

• Socio-economic disadvantage
Clause 1 requires public authorities to have due regard to socio- economic disadvantage when exercising strategic planning functions.

• Associative discrimination
The Bill recognises the concept of ‘associative’ discrimination in relation to disabled
people – and widens the impact of the Coleman decision (clause 13 of the Bill) to make unlawful such discrimination, not only in relation to a person’s employment, but also in relation to goods, services, housing and other fields.

• Indirect discrimination
The Bill contains an explicit provision relating to indirect discrimination and disabled
People (clause 19) – which is not found in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Indirect discrimination occurs where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice puts, or would put, people with a protected characteristic (i.e. due to disability or sex or race etc) at a particular disadvantage compared with other people, unless that provision, criterion or practice can be objectively justified as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. A problem with this formulation is that there is a need to establish a comparator – i.e. a person who has not got the protected characteristic, and would not be adversely affected. An example is a height restriction for people wanting to enter the police force. This was neutral (i.e. it affected men and women alike) but because women are generally shorter than men, this provision adversely affected more of them than men.

• Impact assessments
The Bill (clause 145) extends the current duty on public bodies – such as local authorities and the NHS – to ensure that their policies and practices do not have an adverse impact on disabled (and other) persons. This duty is not merely negative: it includes an obligation to ensure that policies and practices are designed to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. This includes an obligation to consider the impact of their policies and practices because of the concept of ‘associative’ discrimination.

The text above was extracted from a briefing of the Equality Act 2010 provided by Carers UK and you can download it here.

Robots to help Elderly Live Independently

08.11.2010 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

Over the past 25 years the number of people aged 85 or over has doubled here in the UK, budgets have been slashed and caring has become one of the biggest concerns for the new Coalition Government.

In a bid to address the issue of whom and how the increasingly ageing population of Britain will be taken care of, The University of Bristol and the University of the West of England are developing robots to provide care and companionship for elderly people.

The project has received support by a grant from the EU of £3.5m. The main goal is to develop robots that can help elderly people to live independently at home for longer.

While the concept of “robotic carers” might be cost effective, I’m not convinced robots will provide a solution to Britain’s social care crisis. Robots will never be able to replace face-to-face human contact which is in most cases what the elderly need.

Professor Heinz Wolff, the star of the 1980s science programme The Great Egg Race, who back in the days worked in the development of devices to improve the quality of life of the elderly, has the same thoughts about these “robotic carers”.

“I’m quite sure that when you are the venerable age that I’ve reached and somebody says your robot is going to be delivered tomorrow and it will look after you, you will be a little unhappy.”

“You might wonder how nice it would be to have someone who had warm hands and someone who cares and gives you a peck on the cheek. Mind you, a robot could kiss you I suppose – imagine being kissed by a robot.”

We want to hear from you now. Do you really think Robots could provide a solution to Britain’s social care crisis? Will robots ever replace face-to-face human contact?

£4 million Government Funding to Support Carers

19.10.2010 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

One of the Coalition Government campaigns promise was to improve the UK’s care services. In order to do so, the minister of care services Paul Burstow announced a £4 million funding to offer support to projects like health care training schemes and specific training for social care workers.

The funding made available following cancellation of the contract for Caring with Confidence, provided training to carers as the programme did not deliver the benefits expected for the funding committed.

Together with the funding, the minister of Care Services Paul Burstow announced a myriad of measures to support carers. Between these new measures highlights a scheme that will fund voluntary organisations to reach out to carers. It will particularly focus on early contact with those who are taking on a caring role for the first time through a variety of settings such as hospitals, places of work and supermarkets.

“Identifying and supporting carers at an early stage is critical. The financial outlook is extremely challenging so we must make sure the money we have is working harder for us.” – said Paul Burstow, minister of Care Services.

The news was welcomed by the UK’s largest carer’s organisation, Carers UK. Chief Executive of Carers UK Imelda Redmond CBE said:

“We welcome this measure launched today. It is critical that the Coalition Government understands the vital contribution that carers make in looking after older, sick and disabled people. In times of tight public expenditure there will be increased expectations that families will take on greater caring responsibilities which in turn can have a severe impact on their health and finances.

“Our work with thousands of carers throughout the UK shows that things are made worse if carers are not identified early and do not have support quickly enough. Time and time again, good information and advice comes up as a key issue that they need to keep them healthy, in work and help prevent poverty.”

This new scheme is without a doubt a reiteration of the coalition government’s care commitments and is of great interest to carers who are looking to develop their people skills.

Shaping the Future of Care Together

06.04.2010 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

The Government has published the White Paper Building the National Care Service. This is a huge step towards creating a care and support system for all adults in England. The National Care Service will be fair for all and offer services free when people need them.

On the same day Imelda Redmond CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK commented on the Government’s White Paper:

“We warmly welcome these bold plans for a National Care Service of the kind that older and disabled people, their families and carers have been calling for. These proposals promise to end the social care postcode lottery and protect families from the crippling costs of care which they currently see draining their savings and putting at risk family homes.

Family carers desperately need these reforms as many are pushed to breaking point due to lack of support from the current system. This White Paper places carers at the centre of social care – recognising that a new National Care Service will not take care away from families, but would support them.

The government has recognised that the demographic challenge of an ageing population makes a National Care Service an economic imperative. Our current care system cannot meet families’ needs and has forced over 1 million people to give up work to care. Government has set out a positive vision in which the social care system supports individuals to juggle work with caring for ill or disabled relatives.

We also welcome plans for a new commission to decide how individuals pay into the proposed social insurance scheme. Given the political point scoring on these issues in recent weeks, it is vital that these questions are dealt with on a consensual basis. Although the vision is clear and ambitious, the White Paper in itself does not contain enough detail on the question of funding. The promised commission on funding must be brought forward as a matter of urgency, to deliver on the specifics, and give families confidence that the sort of care system they need will become a reality.

This White Paper sets social care at centre stage as the election looms and we look forward to care and support forming a key plank in all political parties’ manifestos.”

For those of you that would like to watch the White Paper’s launch event that happened on the 30th of March 2010 visit this link or if you prefer to read the White Paper and supporting documents please visit this link.

Carers UK New Campaign to Increase Carers Support Needs Our Help

08.03.2010 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Samantha Hall

In 2010 social care is in crisis and in need of urgent reform. The main carers’ benefit is worth just £1.52 an hour, well short of the minimum wage of £5.73. (and even less than that if you’re retired, disabled or on a low income).

Carers are paying a heavy price – no money, no breaks, many forced to give up work and a constant battle for support. Some are pushed to the point of collapse.

The government has invested in carers’ breaks and other support for carers. But this falls far short of the action needed now if it is to make good on its promise that by 2018 carers will have a life of their own and not be forced into financial hardship.

Tell the next government it’s time to support carers by signing the letter to the next Prime Minister here.

Government to Introduce New Carer's Credit in April

01.03.2010 | Posted in: Carers | Author: Samantha Hall

For the first time, it will be possible for an unpaid carer looking after a loved one to build up a full basic State Pension based entirely on National Insurance credits. The Department for Work and Pensions and Carers UK are calling on the 4.7 million carers across the country to find out if they could benefit.

April 2010 will see the introduction of the new Carer’s Credit that will count towards their basic and second State Pension. People may not recognise the help they give unpaid to a disabled, ill or family member as caring but today they are being encouraged to come forward if they are looking after someone for at least twenty hours a week.

Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society Angela Eagle said: “We want people to tell us if they, or people they know, are looking after somebody for more than 20 hours a week so they benefit from this change. The State Pension is everyone’s foundation of financial security in later life and therefore, it’s only right that caring for others should be counted towards it.”

The natural focus for most carers is to meet the immediate needs of their loved one rather than on planning their own financial future. Results by the Ipsos MORI survey found less than one in five of the carers (19%) pay regularly into savings and only one in seven felt they had a comfortable amount put aside for the future. It also revealed almost half (46%) the carers it questioned are worried about their financial future and just over a third (36%)have dipped into savings as a result of caring.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “We know saving for your retirement years won’t be your priority when you suddenly find yourself caring for a loved one. But there are simple steps you can take to secure your State Pension that will protect your long-term future as you care for others.”

If you are caring for someone for 20 hours or more a week you could get the new Carer’s Credit that will count towards your State Pension. Find out if you qualify by visiting www.direct.gov.uk/pensions or by calling 0800 678 1132.

Source: Carers UK