Tag Archives: Independent living

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.


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

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.

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,


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


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


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.