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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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming can I do Alone? (just a quickie)

Brainstorming? Does it work?

Process for generating creative ideas and solutions through intensive discussion and processing information that is within your mind. Normally group participation but the question is can you then not do brainstorming alone?

Well I am Attention to Care at the moment it is just me and its my business that I am nurturing and trying to grow so its down to me and my mind to brainstorm. So I have been brainstorming (well that’s what I am calling it) I have encouraged myself to think aloud and suggest as many ideas as possible, no matter seemingly how outlandish or bizarre. Don’t get me wrong as I am doing alone there would be no challenges and disagreements but there is in my own thoughts. I am using the sticky note method laid on my mini desk just words and ideas including things to do. As you can see there are many things that need to be thought about. It got me thinking doing this and how others may generate their ideas if they are the business if it is just you.


Attention to Care is a business to train care staff at all levels and its about ensuring I meet the needs of each service in a unique way but what I need to do is get the name out there hence my brainstorming session all alone.

So to clarify this blog today is to try to find out what people do when they are in business alone to generate and analyse their ideas. Also, is Brainstorming only good as a group. Come on and tell me what you do please, I need inspiration and need to know how to get the ideas out and in a way that can be monitored.

 

 

 

Career in Care

Been discussing about how to get people to choose care as a career. There is nationally an issue with recruitment and staff retention in Care. I feel we need to promote Care as a career choice but how to do that?

Long gone are the times when care workers did it to top up income into a home. Most carers I believe are the bread winners in the home or shared bread winners so sadly money has to be something that comes into it. I know lots will say it’s not about the money but it is if it’s your only income. Care work is still not paid to the level is should be. Yet we ask people to care for the most vulnerable people in society. I get money is not the only issue, good training/induction and feeling valued is as important. What are your thoughts on this how can we get 18 olds to choose this as a career which is what I choose actually at 16.

I was lucky enough to speak to one of my Level 5 Adult management learners yesterday and we spoke about recruitment and retention. She said she focused on getting the recruitment right she encourages them for taster days to see if they get the feel for it and she is the one as the manager who shows them. She also said her retention rate is because she promotes a positive culture within her team by empowering them to have ideas and to be part of the sucesses. I really felt she had found a way to work that will ensure her team feel valued but also knew when things weren’t going so well that she would deal immediately and ensure she reviews approaches.

Without a doubt its should be a choice to do not just because ‘IT FITS’ (I have heard this reason so many times), we need to value it as a positive career choice. I have been within care 29 years, I chose to do this as a career when planning what I wished to do at college. I knew that this was the career I wanted. There is far to much push towards Academic subjects. In general people are pushed to do care at school because they can’t do other subjects due to level but should this not be an option for all and seen the same as choosing science. There has to be away of showing care is a valued career. Health and Social care at school is an after thought its not a push as a main subject this has to change.

So please feel free to share your thoughts on care and getting people to choose as a career.
Working together to empower and value care work.

Attention to Care

So I have done it, I have commenced my own business called Attention to Care which is a Health and Social Care training company based in Cambridgeshire area.

I have a lovely website that is still in the process of being changed and altered, a face book page and business cards on the way (second time lucky as I missed the ‘n’ off).

So why?

Well I have worked within care for 28 years in some role whether support worker, manager or trainer/assessor I still see approaches that could potentially place people at risk. So I want to educate, value and nurture the carers/managers/employers to enable them to provide the ‘best’ service they can to vulnerable people. The way I know I can do that is deliver, bespoke and best quality training I possibly can.

Its been a while since I posted and a lot has happened, my father has been unwell and recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Emphysema. Which is rather a big deal and I am very aware that even though I deliver Dementia Training that I have to be just a daughter and sister when speaking to my family as I don’t want to be the one that has to inform them of everything as otherwise I believe it changes my relationship. Don’t think though that I don’t talk about it and support my family with information they need I just don’t speak like I am training.

This is a brief blog but will try to now get more completed and find resources to share on my blogs to try to support you carers out there.

Please check out my site and please share.

http://attentiontocare.co.uk/

Story of a Care worker

Care is amazing but hard please value the ones who do the job.

Over the years I have met so many care workers so great, exceptional, amazing, passionate, driven to provide the best of care and then the ones that are not all of the previous comments. Carers from all over the world who are committed to supporting our most vulnerable, yes I am not blinkered to the poor care out there but its getting better and we are more vocal at the poor care now.

So many experiences I have been lucky to have had,  from supporting independence to enabling someone to die at home with their loved ones. Every moment just as important as another.

I have been through the saddest of time and then the times that has been utter joy. Each experience has left a mark on me and has made me who I am today when I go and do assessing/training for people who work in care. I focus on my learning through experience and try to impart some experience on others. I am always passionate   about care because this is one of the most important industry you could work in.

I think back at times and remember by first day of walking into a Big House in the Village of Milton in Cambridge (Edmund House), it was an old building which would be classed as an institute but Mencap were working hard to alter the care/support for people. I came at a time that I was able to be part of that. Watching the development of a more independent and inclusive provision. I was 18 just finished college in Scunthorpe and thrown headlong into the world of care. IT WAS A MASSIVE LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!!!

I have met along the way people who have made an impact on me some for the good and some for the wrong reasons. However, I love the care world, I have faith in the care world, regardless of society not respecting or noticing the hard work carers do. We pay the minimum wage to the people who are caring for our most vulnerable but they do it in spite of that.

I want to continue to try to value and get others to value care and therefore I may change my page to something more inclusive. I have not been able to have the impact I wanted and now it back to the drawing board to think about how I get care out there as a positive. I want a community who are not afraid to share their stories and to share the advice so time for change I think.

Care needs a voice and I may try to get it one.

So please come on and pull up a chair and talk about care. Talk about everything you want to. Open the can and lets not place the lid back on lets just share our experiences and stories that will make people smile and see the positives.

Scary times being OUT and as a definite IN I worry for care, training and all the people who care regardless of what country you are from you do a vital job.

Take this as a bloody big thank you from me. pooh

Its who you bump into sometimes!

Well its been a month and a half since I gave up college assessing (it just wasn’t for me), Even though still feel somewhat nervous and anxious, I am now starting to feel motivated. Yes motivated and its not bad. Yes my little monster in my ear still tries to bring me back into a less motivated space or tries to pass on the CBA function. I AM NOT LISTENING!!!!

Anyway I digress… well yes motivation is back and that was helped when I bumped into a manager of one of the very first domiciliary care agencies I assessed in. Well it was a quick catch up (gossip). However, after the brief catch up we went on to talk about care and the impact of double up rounds on the ‘purse strings’. Now we all know cuts are happening (disgraceful cuts) but there is nothing we can do so we have to be seen to still trying out very very best to meet the needs of each person. So double up rounds (2 carers) are being looked at to see if there are ways that one carer can do the same as 2 (calm down no need to shout). There are ways but this means equipment and I mean the very best equipment out there that cost money and that will be a big outlay to begin with however, in the end it would save money but also in some cases provide a better care experience. We need the care providers on board with this but so many see the £ signs for double up and do not want to budge. However, luckily I assess in one place that are open to looking at the change and to look at what this means to the people they support. Never, in any legislation does it state 2 carers must hoist yet care companies work on the proviso which is incorrect. What it does say is safe use, meeting the needs, assessing the risk and adapting to ensure correct equipment.

So come on lets look at this and lets see how it will help, so if your a person out their that is caring for the loved ones and they need hoisting work with the providers to look at the systems in place. If you a carer be open minded to listen and to try. For carers who are unpaid maybe the new pieces of equipment out there will be better. Please check out this research and also the equipment.

http://www.independentliving.co.uk/moving-handling-it-takes-two/

I am lucky enough now to be able to go to an awareness session to understand more about using equipment suitable for one carer to do. I am open minded regarding if it works and how it will benefit. I feel at times people are sat waiting for 2 carers to turn up (I witness this at one care company and it was very distressing to see a lady desperate to use the facilities and couldn’t as other carer hadn’t turned up). Also the amount of times I have had to tell people to not talk over a person to each other about their own bloody lives. So if this stops that then surely its worth a go. SAFELY, RESPECTFULLY and INCLUSIVELY .

Working together will help and will ensure the BEST OUTCOME BASED CARE

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Why oh bloody why

Come on let’s bloody stop this. Why oh why are we allowing our most precious/vulnerable people to be placed in poor care homes. For those amazing carers (there will be some in these homes) that work in these homes that lights are flickering please speak up and stand tall and try to use your kindness elsewhere or to help make these homes better. CQC and the councils use these good carers to make the difference. Sort out the management and the owners make them stand up and explain publicly as to why they are failing! Make them explain. Why are they not in public at a public meeting telling us their reason. why they are failing. How can we accept failing homes.

My anger is justified as these care homes can access funding and support. Yes there are cuts but there are ways of not affecting care there really is. We are suppose to care for our most vulnerable, bloody hell lets get it right. Come on society please value care, the government stop cutting things for the most vulnerable.

 

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Inspiration is required

After a little more thought I have decided to commence the instagram 365 happy days photo challenge but not sure I will have enough inspiration to take a picture every day to meet 365 days. 2 down and these are the first. The first one shows my darling cat assisting with the Xmas clean up (no help just a bloody little toe rag) and the next is his toy discarded for sleep.

So as I go on with this challenge I hope to gain inspiration from the people around me and hope to offer some light-hearted scenes of happiness or what at that moment in time gave me a smile.

I aim to gain inspiration from the new places I will visit both work wise and personally. As I am going to be assessing in some new establishments I hope the new learners will give me my passion for training and teaching. Or if not then at least I hope my nurturing side will be awakened again. I am going to be completing 2 days at a children centre to talk to parents about care and what it means to work in care. If I can inspire one person to take on the challenge of working in care and who can offer a positive input in care then I will be happy. Or at least I will be able to share what values I have about care work.

 

I am already thinking about the photo for tomorrow the question is what will I be inspired by tomorrow?