Men’s Sheds Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing.

men's shed, mental health & wellbeingWhat a brilliant idea!! A chance for men to work together and form friendships. Men’s mental health is not always discussed openly but it is an issue. Loss of purpose on retirement, friendships formed through your partner, lack of social activities aimed at men in rural areas – these can all lead to feelings of isolation.

Here we have an international movement helping men’s mental health & wellbeing, Men’s Sheds! a brilliant and simple idea. It can be so much easier to voice and share problems shoulder to shoulder with other men, working on a joint project.

The movement began in Australia when men realised the value of coming together around practical tasks on a regular basis, particularly when they had a designated place or workshop where tools and work in progress could be stored. The first Men’s Shed in England was opened by Age Concern in Hartford in 2009. Now there are nearly 300 helping men’s mental health & wellbeing in the UK.

http://menssheds.org.uk/find-a-shed/

This link takes you to the Men’s Shed page and you can search for your nearest Shed. In East Anglia there are currently 20, with 9 more in the pipeline.

Henry from Poringland Men’s Shed says “It’s all about guys working together and forming friendships. Men tend not to have the social networks that women have. We talk better shoulder to shoulder whilst working together, than face to face”. The Poringland & District Men’s Shed Team work with South Norfolk Council as a recycling hub and are about to paint Arminghall Village Hall.

Which brings us to the other great thing about Men’s Shed’s, they will try to fix anything. So if you have something that needs fixing but is not economical to mend – try taking it along to your local Men’s Shed!

 

 

Could a Virtual Assistant be the answer in Older Age?

Could a Virtual Assistant answer to your care needs in older ageIt is true that getting older can have its challenges when all we want to do is maintain our independence amidst those challenges.  At different stages of the process we often need some support to ensure our independence is maintained for as long as possible.  Our ability to deal with everyday tasks such as cleaning, gardening, transport and other areas can become impaired along the way.  Other times we just do not have the time and prefer to have someone else do it so that we can be free to pursue more enjoyable activities.

Older age and technology

The increasing need to deal with technology as part of our daily lives just to maintain our lives can be very challenging for some of us – tasks like paying bills, banking etc.  If managing your personal business affairs is difficult, then having the support of someone you can trust on a regular basis could be the answer.

The growth of technology has encouraged the birth of the  “Virtual Assistant” otherwise known as a VA. This new industry is growing and a VA offers a wide range of skills and experience having started life as an Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant or a PA in the corporate world.

Such highly skilled people can bring these support services and skills to the domestic and home environment, working with individuals as well as Care organisations.

I am Stella Gooch of SMG Virtual PA and am a good example of a Virtual Assistant with a variety of experience in this arena.

A service to support older people

When my mother-in-law developed ill health in her later years, she relocated to be closer to us as it was clear she could not manage on her own.  Although we were able to support her living independently, we were constantly having a battle to get her to accept that support.  I am sure it is a familiar story in many families.  This gave me the idea that there is a need for a service to provide general admin support to older people who want to maintain their independence on their own terms.  Help like this can be purchased on an hourly basis with no long term commitment but longer term contracts can also be arranged.

It costs nothing to have a chat with Stella, and you never know but you might just find the help you are looking for by doing so.

Stella’s contact details are:  07788 645157  – Email: stella@smgvirtualpa.co.ukhttp://smgvirtualpa.co.uk/

Stella Gooch, Virtual Assistant

26th May 2017

Norfolk Swift Response

Norfolk Swift Response and Community alarm userAre you an Older Person living in Norfolk? Or do you have physical illness or difficulties? Or learning difficulties?

If yes to any of these: Do you have the Norfolk Swift Response number by your phone? You should do!

Who are ‘The Swifts’?

A fantastic, trained, team of people, on hand to help you with any ‘urgent unplanned need at home’ which does not require the Emergency Services.

For example, if you have a fall and are unable to get up but are not physically hurt in any way. Or if you live alone and are struck by a violent stomach bug leaving you temporarily unable to get up or to get food. Or if your partner who cares for you has been taken to hospital. In all of these scenarios and many more, the ‘Swifts’ can help you.

Norfolk Swift Response and your Lifeline Alarm

Within Norfolk, if you press your Alarm Pendant because you have had a fall but are unhurt, it may well be the Swifts who come to your aid. They work together with the Alarm Service, and would come if you press your button but we’ve not been able to ascertain the situation and your local key-holders aren’t available.

How to contact the Swifts

It is a Free Service to residents in Norfolk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call them on:

0344 800 8020

More information is available from Norfolk County Council.

 

 

Contact Care takes on My Marathon

Contact Care Lifelines running a marathon

Contact Care Lifelines take on My Marathon

 

The whole of the Norfolk-based Contact Care team are taking on the Challenge. We are each running or walking 26.2 miles during the month of May. We are raising money for the British Heart Foundation. Many of our lifeline users suffer from heart conditions so this is something important to us. We hear stories regularly as we jot down your medical history, of heart surgeries, stents and pacemakers. These were once medical ‘break-through’s. Just imagine what further improvements can become every-day life-saving thanks to the British Heart Foundation.

You can support us by donating and keeping us running at:    Contact Care supporting the British Heart Foundation https://mymarathon17.everydayhero.com/uk/ContactCare

 

Kat Navarro, Contact Care

British Heart Foundation, My Marathon.

Contact Care: Ease your Hay Fever Symptoms.

Looking out of my window right now the sun is shining, a breeze is tickling the curtains and although the trees are still bare of leaves, it is a blue sky I see beyond them. But not everyone welcomes this time of year….

Contact Alarm Service with advice on relieving hay feverHay fever affects ¼ of the British population

One in four people are effected by hay fever, and unlike the name suggests (hay – harvest time) for many the tree pollen swirling in the air now is causing a runny nose and watery eyes.

There is over the counter medication to help. Additionally, you can help yourself. These five tips are provided by NHS Choices using information from a survey undertaken by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit of more than 2,000 people with hay fever, found that lifestyle factors, such as stress and exercise, can have a major impact on hay fever.

Five tips to reduce hay fever symptoms

1. Reduce your stress: Easier said than done, but try it anyway because a clear link was found between stress and the severity of hay fever symptoms. As stress levels drop, symptoms become milder.

2. Exercise more: Regular exercise can improve your hay fever. The survey found that people with hay fever who exercise most have the mildest symptoms. Exercise will also help reduce your stress levels, too. Aim to do 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Now, as this is hay fever season, you’ll be better doing it indoors. So put on that exercise video and get bouncing in the living-room. Or go to the gym or swimming-pool.

3. Eat well: The survey suggests those who eat a healthy diet are less likely to get severe symptoms. Be aware though, that some healthy foods can make hay fever symptoms worse. Foods that can worsen hay fever symptoms for some people include apples, tomatoes, stoned fruits, melons, bananas and celery.

Eat foods rich in omega 3 and 6 essential fats which can be found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, and their oils. These contain anti-inflammatory properties, and may help reduce symptoms of hay fever.

 Contact alarm Service and tree pollen4. Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol worsens hay fever because it contains histamine.

5. Sleep well: Try to avoid too many late nights during the hay fever season. The survey found that those who get a good night’s sleep tend to have the mildest symptoms. Just one in eight (13%) people who had at least seven hours sleep a night reported severe symptoms, compared with one in five (21%) who regularly had five hours sleep or less a night.

Kat Navarro

Contact Alarm Service – Contact Care

Independent Living in Norfolk and the Handyman Service

HandyPerson Services in Norfolk for Independent LivingI was recently in a meeting talking to a ‘Handyman’. This particular gent works for Broadland District Council and told me it can be hard to get the message out. To tell people there is a subsidised / free service for older people, to support independent living and staying safe at home.

Six of the Seven Norfolk District Councils offer the Service supporting Independent Living

So I looked into it. Six of the seven District Councils in Norfolk offer a Handyperson Service (Breckland Council doesn’t). Eligibility and cost vary slightly over the rest of Norfolk but the remit is the same. If you are elderly and need a small job doing in your home your local HandyPerson service can help you. This could be fitting grab rails, putting up shelves or installing a keysafe. Maybe fitting an access ramp, moving heavy furniture or fixing  leaking tap.

South Norfolk District Council offer their Handyman Service to everyone (any age) for £20 / hr, subsidized if you are over 65. Norwich City Council’s Handy Van Scheme is only for over 65’s and charges £15 / hr. This is the same as Broadland D.C.s Handy Person +, although these also offer signposting and information as part of their service. North Norfolk D.C. use the Benjamin Foundation to deliver their scheme, Ben’s Workforce, to the over 65’s.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Handyperson Service is delivered by Safe at Home for £20 / hr to over 60’s, as is the Handyperson  Service in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, delivered by the Careline Community Service.

In all cases these prices are lowered or waived if you are on means-tested benefits.

So stop looking at the front door that needs repainting, wondering how to get it done. Try your local council, get it done for a fixed rate by a trustworthy Handyperson.

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Lifeline Alarms aid Independent Living in Norfolk and Suffolk.

People who live near busy roads have higher dementia rates

Air pollution causes a range of conditions. Elevated levels or long term exposure are well-documented as affecting the respiratory and inflammatory systems. It can also lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Now BBC News reports: “people who live near major roads have higher rates of dementia”.

Canadian research into dementia and busy roads

A Canadian study found that people living within 50 metres of busy roads were 7% more likely to develop dementia. This is compared to people who live at least 300 metres away.

The results were produced by a major study that tracked all adults in Canada’s most populated province (Ontario) over 11 years.

Researchers also looked to see if a similar pattern was found with two other neurological conditions; Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. They found no evidence of any link.

This study of 6.8 million people adds to evidence that living close to heavy traffic may have an effect on dementia. A study the NHS discussed last year found evidence that particles caused by air pollution can physically make their way into human brains.

While this type of study cannot prove that traffic or air pollution has caused the increase in dementia cases, a link is certainly in the realms of scientific possibility. Air pollution caused by traffic can lead to exposure to a wide range of damaging toxins, such as nitrogen oxides.

Exactly what policy makers can do to reduce any potential risk of exposure remains a matter of debate.

On an individual basis, there’s not much you can do if you live near a busy road, especially if you’re in a city where most people live near busy roads. However, it does make sense to reduce your exposure to pollution if you can. For example, by walking on the further side of the pavement.  Exercise in parks or back streets rather than along busy roads.

Where did this dementia story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from a number of Canadian institutions: Public Health Ontario, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, Oregon State University, Health Canada, and Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the US.

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Pendant Alarms, sharing information from NHS Choices

Personal Alarm Button to reduce bed-blocking crisis

Personal alarm button can reduce bed-blocking crisis in NHSLast month the Telegraph reported on “NHS bed-blocking rising 42% in a year”.

This “impacts on A&E as hospitals struggle to find beds for incoming patients. Days lost to delayed transfers of care totalled 193,680 in November. This is the third highest number on record, and 26 per cent higher than the figure for November 2015.

A personal Alarm Button helps.Tunstall alarm and personal alarm button

So this is where we assist. As Community Alarm providers we make a difference. Occupational Therapists can discharge elderly patients sooner knowing they have a personal alarm button to wear in their home. With their button worn around their neck or wrist, they are able to call for help. (See how the Contact Care Personal Alarm works.)

Thus the discharged patient is not ‘alone’ at home.

So, at Contact Care we endeavour to get our lifelines installed in the home promptly. We respond to the urgency, maybe that very day or the next morning. Therefore getting a patient safely discharged from hospital, contently back in their own home and another bed freed up.

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Personal Alarm Button, reducing Bed-Blocking

Home Adaptations for Independent Living

Home adaptations for independence in older age, pendant alarmAdapting the home for an older person

Adaptations may become necessary as you grow older. If you think you need some home adaptations, contact your local council and ask for an assessment by an occupational therapist (OT).  The assessment is free.

Don’t forget to hold of Contact Care to get a lifeline alarm!

Here in Norfolk, most of the District Council offer a Handyperson Service if you are over 65 and wish to make minor repairs or adaptations to your home. The  Handyperson Service provides subsidised rates including up to two hours free labour on a means-tested benefit. For further information read Contact Care’s article on Independent Living in Norfolk and the Handyman Service)

Small home adaptations that can help are:

  • installing grab rails in a bathroom or by the front door
  • adding a bath seat or electric bath lift
  • fitting a second banister on a staircase

Also consider equipping yourself with:

  • riser-recliner chair (much less strain on arms and wrists)
  • alternatively (and cheaper) you can raise your armchair higher from the ground
  • walking frame (no shame, they really help)
  • trolley (excellent for carrying your cup of tea and cake through to the lounge)
  • perching stools in your kitchen or shower (great for use at the sink, ironing etc.)
  • lifeline alarm (it’s there with, you just in case..)
  • kitchen aids like kettle tippers, easy-open can openers, adapted cutlery

Larger home adaptations:

  • installing a downstairs bathroom
  • fitting a stairlift
  • widening doorways
  • lowering worktops in the kitchen
  • installing outdoor stair rails or a ramp

Here you may want to ask your local council about grants. Most Councils offer a Disabled Facilities Grant (means tested) towards the cost of making changes to your home. They may also be able to put you in touch with other grants funds available.

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Telecare Service: supporting Independent Living

Senior Independence: Exercise for the over-65’s

 Senior independence. Senior health.

Senior independence and staying healthy in oder ageGuidelines for older adults aged 65 and over. Seniors, aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week,

 and

Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

or

75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week,

and

Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

NHS – keeping you independent in older age:

This advice comes from the NHS who wish to keep you healthy and enjoying your independence in your own home. For more information visit NHS Choices.

Kat Navarro

Community Alarms: Supporting Senior Independence through health.