Care In Crisis
Day to day tasks that many of us take for granted – like getting dressed, using the toilet, making a meal or getting to the shops – can be almost impossible for many older people without help. Older people should be able to live well, not just survive, and the right care and support can help them do this.
There are currently over 1.2 million older people left to struggle each day without that support. We need to ensure that they can access the care that will help them stay safe and prevent even more strain on a system that is on the edge of collapse.
The care system is like the postcode lottery and varies from area to area even though the Care Act 2014 being introduced nationally. The Care system has had a cut of £160 million in the past five years although the ageing population has continually increased and now with Local authority cutting care services the additional pressure is being put on unpaid carers.
You may have concerns about the costs involved in getting care and support at home. But if you have been assessed as needing care, you will also be assessed to see how much you can afford to pay towards the cost of services, while still having enough money to live on.
Financial help from social services
The amount that social services departments pay towards care on your behalf varies depending on your local authority, although there are minimum requirements.
When you have an assessment, your needs will be judged to see whether you’re eligible for services under the national eligibility criteria.
if you’re found to have eligible needs the local authority has a duty to meet those needs but can charge for services.
If the council has assessed you and you need care and support, you will then be means tested to see how much you need to contribute, if anything and how much the council will pay towards it.
Depending on which area you live in, you may have the option of using a personal budget to meet your needs. A personal budget aims to change the way in which services are assessed for, funded and arranged.
It gives you more control and choice over the help you receive. From April 2015, everyone now has a personal budget.
The amount of money in your personal budget depends on the needs identified in your care plan. It’s designed to allow you to arrange your care in the way you think is best, with appropriate support.
You could choose to hire a carer directly, or you might prefer social services to arrange your care for you in the traditional way.
New pension rules mean that those who employ their own carers using either their own money or money from their personal budget may now be legally obliged to contribute towards a pension for them.
Paying for your own care and support
If you’re not eligible for financial help from the council, you’ll have to fund your own care. However, you are still entitled to advice from your local services department about how best to meet your needs.
Be aware of the symptoms of common health problems experienced in summer so you can get medical help if you feel unwell.
Dehydration and overheating
Extreme heat and dry conditions can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat.
It’s important to eat a balanced diet to help your body replace any salt you lose by sweating. Aim to drink 6 – 8 glasses of liquid a day, and more if it’s hot. Limit drinks with caffeine and avoid alcohol as it can make dehydration worse.
You may also need to be careful if you’re taking some types of medication that affect water retention. Speak to your GP if you’re concerned.
Watch out for certain signs – particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids.
Sunburn is caused by UV (ultraviolet) from the sun. The skin can become red, sore, tender or flaky. Too much UV can damage your skin cells and over time this can lead to skin cancer.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, intense thirst, heavy sweating and a fast pulse.
If you have any of these symptoms you must, if at all possible:
- find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
- drink plenty of water or fruit juice
- sponge yourself with cool (not cold) water.
Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated – it can also :
- call 999 immediately.
- if you have a personal alarm, press the button on your pendant to call for help
- while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.
If you have a long-term condition such as diabetes, a heart or breathing problem, then the heat can cause stress on your body and worsen your condition. Talk to your doctor about how best to manage your long-term condition in hot weather.
Very high temperatures and humidity can present a risk to our health, and we can be particularly susceptible to heat – related illness as we get older. Follow these steps to protect yourself:
- Eat a balanced diet to help your body replace any salt you lose by sweating. Try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruits as they contain a lot of water.
- Be careful when eating, especially outside. Hot weather causes bacteria to multiply quickly and increases our risk of food poisoning. Bring chilled food home quickly and put straight in the fridge.
- Keep hydrated. Drink 6-8 glasses of water or fruit juices a day even if you’re not thirsty, and keep a bottle of water with you when you’re outdoors.
- Dress appropriately. Wear a hat and loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes. Opt for open-toed sandals and avoid flip flops which can be hard to walk in. Sandals that fasten with Velcro are a good idea if your feet swell up in the heat.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity or housework when it’s very hot.
- Stay out of the sun during hottest parts of the day (usually 11am-3pm).
- Consider ways to keep your home cooler. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. There may be appliances in the house that are generating heat, so turn them off where possible.
•Good oral health is important for your whole wellbeing.
Looking after your teeth is important at any age. It helps you enjoy your food, smile with confidence and feel good about yourself. But it’s not just teeth, your gums are important too.
Gum disease arises when you don’t clean your teeth properly and allow plaque to build up. Plaque contains harmful bacteria and can irritate your gums when it builds up along the gum – line. Hardened plaque is called tartar and is removed by the dentist or hygienist when you have a thorough teeth clean. If not treated, gum disease gets worse, affects the structures holding your teeth in place, and could mean teeth become loose or fall out.
The good news
The best way to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy is to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and clean gaps between your teeth using floss or interdental brushes. Whether you have your own teeth or wear dentures, it’s important to see your dentist regularly for a check – up. If you don’t have a dentist, go to WWW.nhs.uk and search for ‘Dentist’ to find an NHS dentist in your area.
Tips for better brushing:
• It doesn’t matter whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush as long as you clean your teeth thoroughly. Some people find an electric one easier.
• Choose a brush with soft or medium bristles and if it has a small head, it is likely to be easier to move around your mouth.
• Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth thoroughly, which should take about two minutes.
• If bristles become frayed or splayed out, they won’t work effectively, so that’s the time to buy a new brush or brush head. Your dentist can advise how often to do this.
An eye test doesn’t just check to see whether you need glasses – it’s also a vital check on the health of your eyes.
Everyone aged 60 and over qualifies for a free NHS-funded sight test every 2 years – if you are under 60, you may still be eligible for a free test.
A sight test checks your vision straight ahead, as well as your peripheral vision. The test also looks for age – related changes, as well as eye conditions such as cataracts, age – related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma, which can lead to sight loss.
These conditions can be detected at an early stage, usually before you ‘ve even noticed that anything is wrong.
How often should I get my eyes tested?
You should have an eye test every 2 years or as often as your optician advises.
Make sure you get a regular check, regardless of whether you live at home or in a care home, even if you think your sight is fine. If you notice any changes in your vision, get it checked as soon as possible.
If you’re not happy with the service from your optician, talk to them first. If this doesn’t resolve things contact the Optical Complaints Service.
A damning report today exposes the growing problem of delayed transfers of care or bed blocking which is up 30% on the same period last year.
More than 280,000 elderly patients were stuck in hospital this winter after Tory budget cuts triggered an “unprecedented” social care crisis.
Almost 70% of nurses admitted they were “frequently” delaying discharging older patients because there was no one to care for them at home or in the community.Nearly all of the NHS staff described it as a “serious” problem and 82% said it had got worse in the past year.
Older persons’ charity the Royal Voluntary Service, which provided the figures, said more then 4,000 patients were blocking beds everyday. This winter delays in hospital discharge reached unprecedented levels, with lack of support for older people after hospital, a root cause.
The Tory – led Coalition has slashed £1 billion from social care budgets, leaving hospitals struggling to arrange support from care workers and district nurses. The Government insisted it had given the NHS an extra £700 million this winter to fund extra staff and beds. Yet today’s report found 40% of older patients ended up languishing in hospital when they were fit to be discharged. Experts said being left in limbo in such ways was extremely distressing.
This scandal is also having a huge impact on A&E waiting times because there are fewer beds for new admissions.
- Managing and maintaining nutrition
- Maintaining personal hygiene
- Managing toilet needs
- Being appropriately clothed
- Being able to make use of their house safely
- Maintaining a habitable home environment
- Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
- Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
- Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services
- Carry out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child.
This is expected to affect 340,000 elderly people who be will be denied care in new cuts: Vital help to be restricted to those who need assistance with two or more tasks, the Government said a few days ago.
- Charities attacked new criteria announced by the Government
- Age UK said 340,000 would be denied care in ‘bleak’ future for elderly
- Department of Health insisted new rules are meant to mirror old ones.
Councils have been told to provide home help and other assistance only if people are unable to complete two or more essential daily tasks. If they are unable to do only one of the 10 appointed tasks then they should receive no help from their council – meaning they would either have to pay for the care themselves or do without it.
Under the present system, most councils restrict care to those with ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ needs – meaning they are at risk of ending up in hospital without care.
The Coalition Governments new ‘national eligibility criteria’ – a minimum threshold of care that councils have to provide – says the elderly should get care if their needs arise from a physical or mental impairment, if they are unable to achieve two or more activities, and if this failure is likely to have a significant impact on wellbeing.
Richard Hawkes, chairman of the Care and Support Alliance said: The Care Act will only live up to its promise of a genuinely preventative systems that promotes wellbeing, if the Government re-thinks its plans to exclude so many older and disabled people from the system.
Neil Duncan – Jordan, from the National Pensioners Convention, said: People were expecting a better deal from the Coalition after all the promises. Many older people and their families will be very angry and disappointed about this. This isn’t about improving services and looking after people who desperately need support. ‘The whole thing is a con. The Coalition said they were going to fix Social care, but they ‘re making things worse. They ‘re cutting money from Social Care, so they ‘re restricting eligibility it’s cynical.
There are many health risks associated with hot weather that employees must look out for during their home visits. Those most at risk are older people, mainly those over the age of 75, those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory problems or diabetes, or those with mobility problems as they are unable to help themselves to keep cool. Staff can help people at home to keep cool by following the 5 tips below.
Tip 1: Keep the Person’s Home Cool
- Keep the windows closed during the day to keep the heat out. If it is safe to do so, open the windows at night when it is cooler outside.
- Shut the curtains, particularly if the sun is shining on the windows.
- Suggest the service user buys a fan, although they need to think about how to switch it on and off, and prevent it from being a trip hazard when they are not visiting. A timer switch might help.
- Turn off electric items when not in use, such as lights, which will increase the heat in the room.
- Put a bowl of cold water in the room – this will help to cool the room as it evaporates.
Tip 2: Wearing Cooling Clothes and Footwear
- Help the person to choose and dress in light or loose fitting clothes (cotton clothes are ideal).
- Sandals are more cooling than shoes, so advise service users to wear these instead if it is safe to do so.
- Wear socks with shoes as these will absorb any sweat and women should avoid wearing tights or stockings.
- Advise the service users to avoid wearing make-up as this can impede sweating, which will make them feel hotter.
Tip 3: Consume Cool Food and Drink
- Advise the person to drink lots of fluid even if they don’t feel thirsty. Leave plenty of cool drinks for them within easy reach.
- Cool drinks, such as water and fruit juices are better than hot drinks. Add ice to these if you are leaving these out to keep them cooler for longer.
- Avoid alcohol and the caffeine in tea and coffee as these can increase dehydration.
- Meat and protein-heavy food such as cheese can raise the body temperature as it metabolises, so eating fewer of these types of foods in hot weather can help keep the person cool.
- Avoid cooking if possible, as this will increase the heat in the home. Offer cold foods instead, such as cold soups, raw fruit and vegetables, salads, cold ice or noodle dishes, quiches and sandwiches.
Tip 4: Keep the Person Cool
- Keep any activities to a minimum during hot weather.
- If service user has long hair, tie this back to keep it off their face and neck.
- If they feel hot, place a damp towel around their neck to cool them down.
- Put cold water into a spray bottle so that the service user can spray it over them to help them to keep cool when carer is not there.
- Help the person to have a cool shower or bath if they are suffering from the heat.
Tip 5: Take Precautions from the Heat when Outside
- The service user should stay indoors from 11am – 3pm, if possible, as this is the hottest part of the day.
- They should wear a brimmed hat if they are going out during hot weather, to keep their neck cool and the sun out of their eyes.
- Take regular breaks out of the sun, such as in public buildings or under parasols or gazebos that provide shade.
- Going out during hot weather, make sure service user takes water and their medications with them.
- The person should wear sunglasses and sun cream if they are going out in sunny weather to protect their eyesight and skin from the adverse effects of the sun.