Wishing that sometimes We didn’t know what We know!!

Decided that sometimes knowledge of something can make you know too much.

I am sure this sounds like I have possibly lost the plot but I have worked in care for 30 years. Supporting people to develop skills, keep skills and to be cared for through the end of life process.

Some people would think knowing information or knowing what’s to come is a good thing. However, not always as at the moment it isn’t. Knowing the progression within Dementia and knowing the end of life process means, I know what my dad is possibly going to go through. As a trainer in social care I stand each month and teach about dementia awareness which has an impact on me as I am actually talking about what might happen to my dad, over and over (I love my job but it can be hard when going through something).

Knowledge and experience

As my dad progresses through the dementia journey I struggle to get those images out of my head of people I have met, cared for through this incredibly harsh disease. I see the people screaming as they are being cared for and shouting for mum because they have forgot the reality they are in. I see the progress of having to assist the person to eat with a puréed diet because there swallow has been effected. I also see the families broken and frightened of who they now, don’t really know. I see the daughter visiting their mother but she no longer remembers being a mother. I have also been lucky enough to be with people at their end of life and know what it can be like sometimes I wish I did know as I am sure others wish they didn’t know.

My reality at the moment is wishing I didn’t know wishing I was being told by a professional at each stage rather already knowing quite a lot all at once so I know the possible end journey.

Just a family member

We forget that people who work in care or in the caring profession whether a doctor, nurse or care worker that they will have loved ones who may be suffering from a condition. But just because they have the knowledge they are not a doctor, nurse or carer when we are talking about a family member they are just a daughter, son, husband, mother etc. They too will be on the journey and even though they can’t forget what they have learnt or seen they will wish they could for a day so they can be just like everyone else and be the daughter, son etc.

Dementia is a journey for all. Just remember to enjoy the good days and role with the punches on the not so good days. Do what you can and just love each other.

Take care all.

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What gets people to read?

What gets people to read is my question today?

I am thinking of what makes me read something and I am struggling to know what. Here are some of what gets me to read:

  • the intrigue that gets me looking further, the expectation that it’s going to be a SURPRISE!
  • the title that gives me a question to be answered and only can be answered if I continue to read.
  • the expectation of what something is going teach me
  • the fear if I don’t read I will miss out on something that can help me
  • the assumption that I know what something is going to include so I make an informed choice
  • the lack of understanding of a title so it’s a MUST read to see if it’s really what it says on the tin (title)
  • I also like a title that may hold a conspiracy theory
  • lastly I choose if I think I may have an opinion of the topic, if it’s near to my passion.

These are some of the reasons I read certain things and not others. What are your reasons you read articles, posts, tweets or books?

 

Social Care and the NHS…

For the last few days I have been ‘tweeting’ I am new to this and just wanted to be more pro-active. I have had a good time just commenting and retweeting tweets until today. I know social media is known as a bit of a harsh place to be at times. However, being part of the care industry and training both nurses and carers I think it is important to be fair when posting about social care and the NHS. I made a comment that it is not only social care that has the poor care but so does the NHS and the response from a particular person was rather harsh. Telling me that NHS is superior and telling me ALL social care providers are rotten (not word for word but that the tone of the comments).

I am not disrespecting the NHS I am grateful for it but when will people understand bad care happens in the NHS to. We as a family have witness this on a number of occasions (not just once). It seems everyone is quick to speak negatively about social care both home care and care homes. Don’t get me wrong I have been honest about our experience with home care also but lets ensure we are not constantly thinking the NHS is superior to everything. It has it’s faults as does social care.

Social care is so devalued and until we value it more we will always have people saying all social care providers are bad and all NHS is superior.

There are many things wrong and one of the things wrong is providers not being held responsible or monitored properly by local authorities. Recruitment of managers, recruitment of care workers not appropriately done. However, the issues are similar within the NHS as well and we should not forget this. The lack of monitoring of how a ward is run as I just don’t get that in the same hospital wards can be so different.

We must push care/nursing/healthcare as a chosen career so we need to show that society and politicians value it . Time we pushed the best practice that is out there, time we were more constructive with our concerns, time to be a solution so if you have a concern do speak up regardless of whether it’s the NHS or not.  Local authorities and CQC time to really understand that one persons experience is important to check out. Time we had zero tolerance of poor practice and care. We have the 6 C’s lets make sure they are followed. Stop thinking all are bad there are so many good providers, hospitals, carers/nurses out there. Stop tarring all with the same brush.

I don’t expect all to agree and I don’t mind if you disagree but once I replied to comments today the person sent me a very harsh reply and placed a screen shot of may profile up. It felt like I was being bullied into shutting up. Sadly my confidence on social media is still not up there so I deleted and blocked the person. I am not about airing my laundry in public. I am about being fair. I am about voicing an opinion. I am about learning from others. I will continue of Twitter but it has left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth of how people can be. Kindness and respect cost nothing.

Innovation and Social care :( :)

Innovation is a great thing it really is and I am all for change and progression. On reading a few months ago about the Alexa assisting within loneliness for people who are in care homes or home care I was sceptical in the idea that is was going to relieve pressure on carers. I was sceptical as the outreaching idea had made suggestions that it was going to be doing task carer do and so less time to be with the person, this is where I then get very frustrated about as replacing human contact will never be the best thing to do ever. It may alleviate loneliness in the sense when the carers are not there that it can be set to read or play music but not instead of carers please.  It could also mean that the individual could raise the alarm if they fall if they are able to. Or to call if there is a potential intruder, also, if get a camera and an Alexa show then they can see who is at the door. So there are uses but not to replace care. I know personally that actually the Alexa has been a great thing for my mum. I got her an Alexa show and she loves it and it has really given her something to do but also, she can call me on it and she can carry on doing things as she chats and she has. I believe it great for her as a carer for her husband.

Then this morning I read an article about a robot being heard in parliament and the article stated ‘robot to care for nations elderly population’. I understand cuts and innovation but come on please again social care is been undervalued and stating in some sense (I know not fully) that a robot can replace a human to care for people. It doesn’t just talk about loneliness it talks about caring. It got me thinking about the people that are most vulnerable that require carers/support workers etc, some of the people we are talking about have, dementia, mental health problems which means sometimes they are hallucinating which can you imagine having a robot around your home when you are in a crisis with your mental health conditions. How scary. It mentions care homes, well most care homes will have people with Dementia and I am sorry but if you work in care you know how residents can react when they don’t recognise a human or when they have a piece of equipment brought to them.

I am frustrated I really am and that’s because we are looking at cheapest option (I know money is tight) and already politicians, society do not value the work social care does and here we are lets use robots. If we are doing this in social care then why not replace teachers, doctors receptionists or hospital porters with robots? Why not replace other frontline staff? Lets not just focus on care work and the social care industry. I am sure someone will say they are not but to me this is what it feels like. Innovation is great and I am still interested in reading more and seeing what more of the ideas they have but remember people first always.

Please feel free to debate.

Dad (AKA grumpy) Our families Dementia journey

Lets look back:

2017 Journey begins and diagnosis……….Mum had seen a number of changes within grumpy which made her concerned regarding his memory. The issue we have is that grumpy has multiple conditions and as many people know some can mirror Dementia Symptoms and also the medication he takes could have had an impact. However, mum had to make an appointment for dad at his local GP to talk about some of his conditions and at that appointment she raised her concern. She wasn’t sure she would raise it as she was worried about Grumpy’s reaction. However, Grumpy also said he had noticed things that he was worried about.

The doctor on this visit was one of the ‘good ones’ (sadly the surgery isn’t that good). So there and then the GP commenced the initial testing. Which went similar to this:

  • name and address was given to him at the start.
  • asked him to count backwards from 20
  • asked him to say the months of the years backwards
  • showed him a selection of pictures and one of the was a crown and he asked which picture related to the royal family.
  • He then asked him to tell him the name and the address that he had given to him at the start.

On speaking to mum after she said for some he did well, he did remember some of the address and name, he was able to get half way counting and for the months. However, he struggled with the picture question and could not explain the crown being part of the royal family.

The doctor then said he has some markers that could mean he needs further testing and that he would refer to the ‘Memory team’ (what it says on the tin I suppose).  He also asked for medication review, and full round of bloods to rule out any other condition that could mimic Dementia.

Grumpy went along to the memory team with mum and sister Joanna which is really important to have as many people as you can that knows them. As we also see different changes which helps the professionals to see the bigger picture. He was also sent for a CT scan.

During the months that followed dad fell unwell, had a number of TIA (mini strokes), post stroke seizures, bouts of infections which meant lots of trips to the hospital (not always a positive experience). Not having a definite diagnosis was hard as the hospital did not meet his needs at the time and a lot of this was down to not having it in black and white. I felt they dismissed us which added even more pressure.

I am going to continue to write about Dad’s journey. This is just the beginning 2017 was a hard year. I am aware it is not over and that 2018……….onwards is going to have more hard times.

A few things to note:

  • keep notes if you notice changes
  • during the investigations do not forget to breathe
  • once diagnosis comes do not think life is over there and then
  • know that dementia is a terminal illness and this can be something we need to support people understanding
  • a diagnosis does not mean someone does not have capacity understand so remember how they feel about the diagnosis
  • depression is a common reaction
  • compassion and empathy will help you to support someone.
  • plan for the future
  • before diagnosis consider Lasting Power of attorney for health and wellbeing (only comes in to action when the person loses capacity).

 

Will be back with more experiences and progression within Grumpy’s journey.

By the way ‘Grumpy’ is a term of endearment that all his grandchildren use (because he is grumpy but it a loving way).

 

Just a quick blog Dementia related

Important part of being a trainer is to keep your self up to date, refreshed and competent in what you train so at the moment I am doing a free course within Dementia. Its not advanced training its getting back to the basics and updating on my understanding. As part of the course there I have just watch a video from Terry Pratchett. He was talking about the difference in getting a diagnosis of cancer compared to dementia (both horrid). He made a point that people when diagnosis with cancer with be given hope or feel there is still hope but for someone diagnoses with Dementia there is no hope of recovery (at this point in time) and therefore he felt he was very alone with his diagnosis as everyone knows hope isn’t something that comes into it.

However, he still wrote best sellers and was focused on  living well with Dementia. 

I am enjoying the course it is simple and when I finish I will gain a certificate and I am already feeling I am being reminded of things to consider but also how important it is to not have one size fits all approach. Its something I teach a little of but I am now going to ensure it plays a bigger part in my training.

The course I am doing is from the university of Tasmania I have shared previously on my FB page. This is not a recommendation as for some it will not fit their learning style but hey check it out. Free learning is important and CPD can only support you with what ever you do in life. You don’t even have to be working in care, or medical field to do this course. Knowing about Dementia is important for all.

Check the links out you may find them helpful

 

Care/Career

Blogging does not seem to come overly natural to me but I still want to promote care and promote discussion/debate. I feel the need to ensure people realise that care work is valued and should be a chosen career .

In the about me I talk about my career within the care field but I feel my caring commenced long before I got a job in care. I was always looking for someone to look after even as a child. It was who I was, I remember being asked at 14 in school about what I wished to do when ‘I grow up’ (not sure I have grown up yet). My response even then was not met with encouragement as I said I want to be a social worker or a probation officer (none of which I am ). Thing is I was not overly academic as you may notice with my poor grammar (apologies). So I wasn’t encouraged I don’t believe.

However when it came to work experience I was sent to the care home next door to where I lived.  I can still remember my first day as a 15 year old going in to the home, I remember even then the home had an odour that should have been dealt with, there was not as many safety protocols in place and inspections that there are now (or maybe there was but just not followed). I was asked during this work experience to support someone to the toilet, it was a man who was around 80 I  was left to take him to the toilet on my own. I was terrified but I knew instinctively that I could not allow him to feel he was a burden and that I was nervous.  I knew I had to pretend it was OK, I got on with it and can still remember the first sight of a man naked from waste down. However, it didn’t stop me from deciding to do some kind of care work. What it did make me realise is that I would never do what this home did, I would never leave someone inexperienced, untrained to do such intimate support.

Care I think was a natural career for me to choose, I liked listening and giving advice to people I met who were going through difficult times, I liked babysitting, I enjoyed just helping I felt I was achieving something each time I was able to help.

Once I completed school I went to college, I was interviewed for the course ‘Preliminary Certificate in Social Care’ the tutor a glamorous lady asked me what I wanted to do and at that moment I said ‘until I do the course I don’t think I fully know’. Mum had come with me and she said to my mum ‘that was one of the most grown up answers I’ve heard’.

I went through 2 years at college (interesting time) completed GCSE and gained some good grades. I knew then I still wanted to try to become a social carer. I applied for a number of jobs in all different areas (none of them near home). I eventually got a job at a company in Cambridge working with people with Learning difficulties. It was the first step in a career that now spans 30 years. Care is a career it really is and its worth doing.

My career in care has been interesting, colourful, noisy, hard, scary, sad but mainly has been my choice it has been my passion. I want more people to know that it’s one of the best but hardest jobs you can do. It’s not valued like it should be and certainly the pay is not the best but its a career it really is. I would still choose this career all over again.

My journey to where I am now:

Support worker

Senior support worker

Deputy manager

Registered Manager

Trainer Assessor

Regional Manager of Training provider

To Self Employed in House Trainer (this was my goal and I have been lucky to achieve). 

So I will continue to try and blog about care, my family, my dad (AKA Grumpy). I will continue to highlight the good that is out there within care. I will also share when there is not so good care but will hopefully remind people that we can make it good.

Its a quick blog today to try to get myself back to it. I had 5 draft blogs that I have deleted that never came to the page. I now have added 2 more drafts but luckily today I have at least published one. If you are reading this please comment, share, add what you believe care means to you. Most of all if your reading this and you are thinking of a career and have the attributes to be part of care then feel free to check out some of the links.

 

Memories and the making of them

So you all know about my Dad AKA Grumpy, well he continues to go through the journey that is Alzheimer’s and the progress within this cruel and unforgiving disease (yes a disease not a normal part of ageing). So as a family we are now realising the importance of making memories and today was one of the days that my niece managed to make one and video the evidence for us.  She captured her daughter and us all a memory that previously his grandchildren have and now great grandchildren may still have time to make. So it was great to see a video of Dad with his great granddaughter stood on his wheelchair has he drives it into the house. He actually looked like he used to be and do you know what it made me think we need to grab those memories and just store them to share with those that come after us or are to young to remember. So log it and keep it, enjoy looking back, value who your person is and don’t just see the condition. Remember they are who they were just a little buried under all the chaos that is Alzheimer’s. Its a short blog today but honestly it is so important to remember and save those moments and love them. Just take a moment and sit back and remember the person in front of you. SEE THEM!30922044_10157320885744622_2107416334_o

Attention to Care the Aim

Morning everyone, another week in the life of Attention to Care.  After posting about recruitment and retention of staff within care I decided to just write a little more about Attention to Care and what my aim is.

Attention to care as I mentioned in previous post is my own company which is not LTD at this point in time I am just a sole trader. I set it up as I lost a little faith in being employed by others. I felt I lacked control in my life and I was losing who I was, which then meant I lost a little of what I was aiming to achieve. Care has been my life since I was 16 I went to college and did a qualification called Preliminary Certificate in Social Care. It was a good course that then gained me a job within Cambridgeshire Mencap where I worked on and off for 23 years. I then as previously explained went on to Assessing and training. I felt the needed to try and give others the opportunity to learn and develop to then progress. (sorry digressing)

I worked for a number of years with 2 large training providers and learnt a lot but also learnt that there is a push for bums on seats not on quality. Sadly this is true and the fact that we talk about individual learning as far as my experience was there was not individual learning just generic. I ended up having a full break for 6 months and then went to a college (not the best decision) realising that it was really not for me I need a new challenge so luckily I kept in touch with a colleague (friend) and he got me some freelance work as an assessor. 2 years later still dabble in assessing have now about 9 learners. However, my main goal is to build the training in house at care companies which I am loving. I can show my passion and be honest with people about care and all its wonderful colours and sounds.

Attention to Care was set up last year and the aim of Attention to Care is to train in care companies but also to use Facebook to promote care in general. To give care a face, a visibility, a value. I do not wear rose coloured spectacles I know the reality within care and know when things go wrong they can go gravely wrong. However, I know how great care can be across all companies. I can meet people who are amazing, who value people who promote fully the 6 C’s (care, compassion, commitment, courage, communication and competency) people that wants to make some difference whether that is leaving a person with a smile after they have supported them or supported someone to be independent.

So if we commence sharing the good stories and valuing the care staff and management then I am sure we can commencing fixing a system that seems a little broken at the moment. If I can be part of that fix then the aim of Attention to Care will have been fulfilled. Its not a lot to ask that we look at care and what people do on a daily basis to support our most vulnerable in society. If we look at the value it has for those that are being cared for then we can see how vital it is to do something to make it what it needs to be. Care needs to have a value, it needs to be about a career choice it needs to be a first choice in options for our children (not a throw away subject).

So the more I spout off , communicate and just generally speak up then hopefully someone will read and help me with the aim then share and like. That’s the aim to show care as something worthwhile.

So if like a soap box, bandwagon or just generally like sound of own voice (Like me) then please read, like, comment and share. Join a community to value care.

 

Staffing in Social Care (the future)

Recruitment and retention within Social care.

All of us who work in social care know that there is major issues of recruitment and retention of staff.  Which will have a knock on affect to people that are vulnerable being able to access good quality care. I have to say I am concerned. As an individual I have worked within the care field since I was 18 so for 29 years this has been my career.

However, when I was a manager within a learning disability supported living home and it was never overly difficult to employ in fact I remember interviewing a number of people for a role. Which meant I could make an informed choice of who suited the service best. It seems to have changed, I asked one of my level 5 learners the other day how do they choose between people when interviewing and the reply was ‘never had to as not had more then one person come for the job’. I asked about why this is and she said that they do not get an influx of applications and therefore not many for interviews.

I am concerned that if we do not promote care as a career choice we are going to be in a situation where we either start employing people that are not suitable or we are in a crisis mode.

I can honestly say care does consume my life, I think and discuss care regularly (sometimes I am very one-sided ). I check out the up and coming ideas from people taking vulnerable people into their own homes (jury is out on this), using technology to alleviate need to go into care home or to reduce the work for care workers. I understand use of  technology and how it support mobility safety and sensory loss but reducing work load on carers not so sure. However, its something we are now having to look at, alternatives requiring care from a provider, checking out if a pieces of equipment can do it for us. Technology however, should never remove the need to see a person and to have social contact.

I am going to keep looking into staffing in social care and see what resources are out there, I am going to look at how some companies manage great staff retention and others don’t. I think we need to know look at how we are going to get moving on the next generation of care workers.

So watch this space I will continue to check things that are going on and share with you. Please feel free to check out the links as these are some places I have already put up information on.