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).

 

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Blog or not to blog does the swearing and risky blogs get more traffic?

Starting to lose the motivation to blog. 

I don’t seem to have the traffic, or the readers interest in what I have to say and let’s be honest we blog, so people see what we have to say (bit of self-pity). I have been trying to think of what I really want to say, being self-employed and needing to have a positive reputation I hold back a little on what I want to really say. Should I hold back? Will this really affect me gaining more work?

Sometimes I want to shout out about the amazing work Carers do, I want to also scream when there are diabolical care stories of abuse to people because of others. I don’t want to be all diplomatic. I want to say it how it is, I want to say care is bloody hard. It’s not a ‘fits all job’. I want to say you will get stressed and you will go through the saddest of times in your role and you will cry, scream, laugh and just hold your breath.

However, I want you to know I have stayed within Care industry for 30 years and I would not swap it for another industry. There is so much I could swear about, and I want to. I want you to know how passionate about care I really am. I want you to know how much I am desperate to value care and carers – both paid and unpaid. When I think about the stuff I want to say it fills me with frustration that I hold back.

More things I want to say are:

Hey, you lot in the government get a grip, wake up. Social care needs you to take it seriously. We may not be the NHS, but we do a bloody hard job and work as hard as the NHS staff. We need more visibility that is what is missing.

Other parties hope to get our votes, but you don’t seem to want to get it right. Don’t promise us the world when it cannot be given, don’t lie to get our vote, don’t say you can if you can’t. Talk to us on the front line, talk to those who do the most intimate care for the most vulnerable people within society.

You out there – the one who thinks think you can treat people badly, stop it right now stop being cruel, unkind. Stop abusing our most vulnerable. Stop what you’re doing right now and think. Think about that being someone you care about. If you can’t then go work elsewhere – do not work in care and do not think we will put up with your practice.

Inspectors – look beyond the chatter that some companies front with, the chatter that keeps you from looking at what is really going on. Take notice of the concerns and make sure you start asking the right questions. Know that sometimes you get it wrong and we know that, but please do not constantly get it wrong.

On a personal note just for the care workers who are supposed to support my Dad, take of your coat, do not talk to your colleague over my dad, do not moan about your company and do not forget to put your gloves and aprons on. Think about what my dad needs and wants. Do not think about your next call and the lack of time to get to it – that is not my Dad’s fault. You have lost my respect and I am disappointed that you are called carers. Don’t bother coming to work if you cannot provide good care and support.

However, the poor care both in hospital and at home my Dad has had doesn’t mean I am turning my back on promoting care. I still value all the other people within care that do an amazing job. So finally thank you to all you that do a GOOD  job who do give up their time and sometimes time that is unpaid.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Book time

Been thinking about this for a while and as some of you may know Pull up a chair and lets talk care comes from an ambition of mine to write a book inspired by my beautiful friend Valerie who died just over 12 year ago. I did do some initial writing for the book but then found it to be not the right time.

However, in bed last night I was thinking about my Mother and Father (grumpy) and how things have been rather hectic, challenging, upsetting and just exhausting for all. My thoughts led to me think of how our family and the young children and how we are all going to be seeing Grumpy change and how this maybe distressing at times.

So firstly I thought as an adult I will be able to research and look up what the process maybe for some with Dementia but the chidren may need something more simple and real to allow them to digest the changes in a different way. There are lots of books out their for children but I want it to be personal for them. So, I have actually commenced writing a potential children’s book. I know where did that come from?

I sat on my phone in the notes section and commenced thinking of what I would want them to know and how to place a positive on the changes.

So all just watch this space this may be something I just do for my family. My daughter Lauren is also going to be part of the writing process (she is so much more articulate in her words and also she is a great proof reader).

Hey what is there to lose apart from time of course but I have that so ideal time to have a go.

Be ready and I hope that I do it. I will keep you updated.

 

Quality of Life (what does this mean)?

I was in the process of writing my blogs when a question from a conversation I had had with my mother that morning  crossed my mind.

That question was – Quality of life, what does it mean to people?

During the conversation with my mother we spoke about my fathers’ current health and his recovery after a recent bout of pneumonia, which then led to diagnosis of emphysema. I should add at this stage that he has also got Alzheimer’s.

Currently he is taking a medication for his Alzheimer’s, as well as steroids to help his lungs. This combination of medicine, my mother has explained to me, has made my father more awake, engaged in TV and films and less confused.

However, she is concerned that since today is the last day of his steroids, he will decline again and she will end up rushing back and forth to hospital.

So I said then maybe they should look at giving the steroids full time if he does go downhill; as quality of life is so important.

My family knows that my dad will deteriorate, and know what to expect. We will ensure that his choice are respected, and that we all love him as we always have.

Yet, whilst we must ensure that he has quality of life, we must never forget that my mother (his main carer) is entitled to her own quality of life.

Of course she is happy he seems much more aware and awake, but it has  impacted on  her ‘quiet time’ as she calls it. In the past she would assist dad to bed and then have time for herself to surf the net, embarrass us on Facebook and to watch ‘Hollyoaks’ but at the moment she isn’t having that. She confided in me that she was feeling Guilty about feeling Selfish for wanting her ‘quiet time’

But do you know what she isn’t selfish and she has every right to have a Quality of life also.

As a loving, and caring, carer, who looks after her Husband each and every hour, of each and everyday. She should not feel selfish, if her ‘quite time’ is disturbed.

It’s this  ‘quite time’ that enables her to recharge her batteries, have a bit of ‘Me Time’, and is vital for her own well being, health and mental health.

It is critically important that she is able to communicate her thoughts and feelings and not be judged, but instead be listened to and supported.

I believe quality of life is key to my dads and mums continued happiness. My mum will ensure my dads quality of life, my family must support and listen to my mother to make sure that she has her.

That support is vital to all carers in this world.

Don’t forget to care for the carer. Don’t let them silently blend into the background.

So in conclusion I feel quality of life to me is about:

• Maintaining identity: ‘See who I am!’
• Sharing decision-making: ‘Involve me!’
• Creating community: ‘Connect with me!’

For both the person who is being cared for and the carer

Let me know what you think? Share your understanding please.

Maxine

 

 

 

Colours and sounds of a Care worker :)

Part 2 will be coming but just need to ensure I have something interesting to share.

Attention to Care

PART 1 (not sure there is a part 2)

It came into my head tonight that there must be a tail or two that care workers could tell us that will shed light on the fun it can be  to be a care. Yes its a serious job (I am well aware), but if like me there has been some funny/amusing/amazing/extraordinary experiences that within care then maybe we should share. It’s just a thought. Of cause no identifiable information that would break ‘data protection’ or ‘confidentiality’ but stories that may bring a wry smile to your face or did bring a rye smile maybe even a loud laugh.

My first day as a support worker (18 just left home) gave me a shock, having a lady ask me outright if I had a Fanny and the proceeded to say I have ‘see’. Oh and yes she showed me. How I managed…

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