Maggie’s Centres and the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital’s Cancer Centre

maggies-2The story of Maggie Keswick Jencks

Touring the car-parks looking for a space in a busy cancer hospital will reveal a small modern building set apart in the grounds. This is the Cancer Centre.

Maggie Keswick Jencks was a designer, married to architect and designer Charles Jencks. After being diagnosed with cancer, Maggie worked to create a blueprint for a place for people affected by cancer, different from a traditional hospital.

“Maggie got her diagnosis in a 20-minute slot with her consultant, who then said ‘I’m really sorry, I know it’s terrible news, but I’ve got another patient to see.’ And she was in shock. She got put out into one of these stereotypical corridors with nowhere to sit, and all she wanted was to go and have a cry and take it all in.”

The emergence of a blueprint:

Maggie wanted to have a more human place to absorb what was happenContact care explains Cancer Centresing. Consequently, she thought about what patients and families need during cancer diagnosis and treatment. The brief she came up with is hard to categorise. “So it’s a bit more than a house, but it’s not a house, and it’s into art, but it’s not an art gallery, and it’s kind of spiritual, but it’s not a church, and it’s like a hospital, but it’s not medical.”

So Maggie started something amazing before she died in June 1995. The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996. As a result there are now 15 Centers at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK.

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital:

At NNUH the Big C Centre follows the same blueprint. So does the Louise Hamilton Centre at James Paget Hospital. Thus, these centers are providing counselling, family therapy, complementary therapies, courses on looking good, feeling good and eating well. All in an airy, light, comfortable environment where you are free to make a cup of tea and relax.

Big C is Norfolk’s Cancer Charity, and you can find them in the grounds of the Norfolk and Norich Hospital. They can offer you:Big C centre Norfolk and Norwich Hospital

Welfare Advice
Look Good Feel Better
Family Therapy
Relaxation Group
Complementary Therapies
Headwear Options
Healthy Matters
Bereavement Support Group
Food and Nutrition Workshops
Carers’ Club
Cancer Information Day – Living Well with and after cancer
The HOPE Course

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Elderly Alarms: covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire.

Prevent delayed Discharge home from hospital with a Personal Alarm.

elderly_patient_handsThe National Audit Office published its report in May this year. It focused on patients deemed as ‘medically fit for discharge’ but who are stranded in hospital.

Between 2013 and 2015, official delayed transfers of care rose 31%. Consequently, in 2015 delayed discharge accounted for 1.15 million bed days. Most noteworthy, 85% of these patients were aged over 65.

Elderly are more likely to be delayed in getting home from hospital:

Waiting for Social Care was the biggest cause of this sharp rise. Since 2010, waits for Home Care packages have doubled and waits for beds in nursing homes have also increased by 63%. This isn’t surprising given the increasing number of old, frail and medically complex hospital patients, coupled with 10% cuts in real-terms funding for social care over the past five years.

Lifeline Alarms to get you home from hospital:

I have not yet managed to find research quantifying how Lifeline Alarms reduce discharge delays. However, my  regular conversations with OT’s, Discharge Coordinators and patients support the fact. Having a lifeline alarm installed in an elderly patient’s home can get that patient discharged and home from hospital sooner.

We are often asked to install a lifeline ASAP, meeting a family member in the patient’s home to get the lifeline in place so they can come home from hospital later that day. The NNUH provide patients and their relatives with information on Pendant Alarms as part of preparing for discharge.

I have seen many people – tired, frail and leaning on an arm – yet so happy to be back home. Looking forward to a peaceful sleep in their own bed without bells buzzing and other patients calling out. It means so much to both the elderly patient and their relatives to have mum or dad back home and kept safe.

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Telecare Alarm, getting you home sooner

Nuts are not just for Christmas!

nuts-articleI have just got back from my MOT with the nurse: cholesterol and blood-sugar levels were checked, blood pressure taken, BMI recorded. At the end of which the kindly nurse gave me a percentage risk score for developing heart disease or diabetes.

The process got me thinking, so I was particularly interested to then read about nuts reducing the risk of these very conditions.

Recent research shows that eating 28 grams (a handful) of nuts daily reduces your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

It is from a robust analysis of 20 previous studies, carried out in Norway. It was funded by a charitable trust, health authority and university, so is a pretty trustworthy source.

However, as is so often the case with studies into diet and health, the researchers cannot 100% prove nuts are the sole cause of these outcomes. It’s hard to discount the possibility that nuts were just one component of a healthier lifestyle pattern, including balanced diet and regular physical activity. It could be this overall picture that is reducing risk, not just nuts.

Bearing this in mind, the study of 376,228 adults did find nut consumption reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Each 28 gram/day serving was linked with a 21% reduced risk. (nb. if you have a family history of heart disease, a healthy diet including nuts can help, but still may not be able to eliminate the risk entirely).

The study of 304,285 adults found that one serving of nuts per day reduced risk of any cancer by 15%.

And of recorded 85,870 recorded deaths within the huge study group, one serving of nuts a day was linked with a 22% reduced risk of respiratory and diabetes deaths.

So it may be worth stocking up on some of those nut bags on sale in the supermarkets for the festive season. But carry the habit on right into the New Year and beyond.

Christmas Gift ideas for your elderly parents this year

present-2Wondering what to get your elderly parents for Christmas? If they’ve already got enough scarves and warm socks and they’ve told you they really don’t need anything… try looking around their home from a different perspective and see if there’s not something you can DO for them.

Try donning a pair of imaginary glasses, not Rose-Tinted but a pair of Elderly Lenses, and put yourself in their shoes as you move around your parents’ home and garden. Here’s some pointers:

START AT THE ENTRANCE. If there’s a step to either the front or back door, is there a sturdy handrail? Are the steps even? Turn your attention to outside lights. Is there good lighting outside the door?

Then come inside the door, when mum or dad locks the door at night, is the key left in the lock? This will mean no-one can unlock the door from outside if your parent is inside and needs help. If not in the lock, are the keys nearby in case they have to get out quickly? A handy solution can be a simple hook (either in the nearby wall or a suction hook on the door) for the keys to hang on. And don’t forget the doormat – is it a trip hazard?

REDUCE SLIPS AND TRIPS. On the subject of mats, check all the mats and rugs around the house. Are they curling up and causing a trip hazard? Replace them. Do they need a rubber liner underneath to stop them slipping? Cast your eyes around for potential trip hazards – wires or objects on the floor and see if they can be moved. Then turn your attention to footwear. Sloppy slippers, open-backed slippers, worn-out slippers, big-fluffy-loose-fitting slippers should all go.

BRIGHTEN THE PLACE UP. Pay attention to lighting inside too. As they get older and eyesight deteriorates, your parents may benefit from more powerful overhead light fixtures, as well as task lights carefully placed near work surfaces such as kitchen counters. Make sure that the ambient lighting is glare-free and at a consistent level from one room to the next to avoid eye strain.

VISIT THE BATHROOM. Mum or Dad might say they really don’t need grab rails in the bathroom. But when they are there, you do just use them without giving it a thought. If you do slip in the bathroom you tend to go down with a bump. So avoid it. Non-slip mat? Bath seat? Raised toilet seat?

GET TECHNOLOGICAL. There is no need to be completely tech savvy, but there are some useful gadgets. Do they receive lots of cold calls making them get up to answer the phone all the time? These can be screened and blocked. How about a daily skype or facetime? Not only does it keep you in touch but you can also see how they are looking.

How dementia is diagnosed

MarblesA close friend has been diagnosed as being in the very early stages of dementia. She has a very supportive husband and family who noticed the brief moments of confusion and slight forgetfulness and prompted her to go to her GP.

Would we all do the same? In that situation, would I just pretend to myself everything was fine? Would I avoid making an appointment because I’d feel embarrassed, especially if a hyper-efficient receptionist asks me what is regarding. “Erm, I’m sort of, er, forgetting things?”

But the NHS advice is yes, go to your GP. The doctor will are able to do some simple tests then and there. They say:

“If you are forgetful, it doesn’t mean you have dementia. Memory problems can also be caused by depression, stress, drug side effects, or other health problems. It can be just as important to rule out these other problems or find ways to treat them. Your GP will be able to run through some simple checks and either reassure you, give you a diagnosis, or refer you to a specialist for further tests.

An early diagnosis gives you both the best chance to prepare and plan for the future, and receive any treatment. With treatment and support from healthcare professionals, family and friends, many people are able to lead active, fulfilling lives.”


Eyes on Diabetes – World Diabetes Day 14th November

diabetes-1Screening for type 2 diabetes is important to modify its course and reduce the risk of complications.

Diabetes is a huge and growing burden: 415 million adults were living with diabetes in 2015 and this number is expected to increase to around 642 million or one in ten adults by 2040.1

One in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed.1

Many people live with type 2 diabetes for a long period of time without being aware of their condition. By the time of diagnosis, diabetes complications may already be present.

Up to 70% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles, equivalent to up to 160 million cases by 2040.1

With increasing levels of poor nutrition and physical inactivity among children in many countries, type 2 diabetes in childhood has the potential to become a global public health issue leading to serious health outcomes.1

12% of total global expenditure on health is currently spent on adults with diabetes.1

In many countries diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and lower-limb amputation.

Yes, you can have your Little Red Button with you in the bath!

Woman stuck in bath for four days ‘saved by waitress’

This was the BBC headline on Monday. Jeremy Vine picked up the story on Tuesday on BBC Radio 2. After speaking live to the concerned waitress Sonia, and asking after Doreen, Jeremy went on to take some calls on the subject.
A lady from Sussex phoned in to say her mum had got stuck in the bath once. She explained how she had rung and rung through the morning but got no reply so asked one of her mum’s neighbours to let themselves in and check. “They found she had got stuck in the bath, couldn’t get out and was absolutely frozen and terrified.” The lady continued “Where was the lifeline? Of course she had taken it off because you are not supposed to wear it in the bath.”

Keep your little red button with you in the bath!

 And this is where I want to draw you attention – to that little red button and the bath. NO, the button does not like to be submerged in water for a long time but yes, it is showerproof. Which means it doesn’t mind a quick dunking in water. So if you are bathing, our advice is put your alarm button on the edge of the bath, right next to you. If it falls in, just fish it out again and it will be fine. If you are showering, you can wear it the whole time in the shower

It is designed to be with you through all your daily tasks in your home and garden. The button can be worn either around your neck or on a wrist strap. You choose, depending on which works best for you, and which is easiest for you to wear through the day. little red button is showerproof

Kat Navarro

Contact Care: Little red button

Technology – Not just for kids

The use of smart phones and tablets amongst over 65s has seen a rise over the last few years. According to Ofcom, the proportion of people aged over 65 that are accessing the web reached 42% in 2013, up nine percentage points from 33% in 2012, which is a 27% increase over the year. They claim this is due in part to the ease and portability of accessing smartphones and tablets. Not only is it a quick and convenient way to get online, the use of apps also makes the potential for these devices great. There are apps for everything, from simple games right through to dating and social media sites, health, smart shopping and accessibility.

Smart phones and tablets could potentially have a massive impact on the lives of the elderly. And it’s important that we as family, friends and care-givers do what we can to encourage them to learn how to and feel comfortable using them. Deborah Stone, director of suggests that:

“It needn’t be expensive. It needn’t be complicated. But it does need to be kept simple – and made enjoyable. Tablet use has helped connect hundreds of people – including many with disabilities and living in care homes. We know this can work. It’s in every family’s interests to encourage and enable their older relatives to make that step – and the advice we have published will give them the information and guidance they need.”

Below are a few examples to highlight what is out there. Here are just a very small selection of some great apps that we think will especially appeal to over 65s.

  • Communication Tool
    This is a great app for dementia sufferers and carers. It uses over 500 images to allow for easier communication. You can also very easily use your own pictures on the app, making it a much more personal experience.
  • Skype
    Skype is just one of many social apps that allow you to chat with and video call anyone in the world (as long as they also have a Skype account!). It’s a great way to help with the loneliness epidemic which is rife amongst the elderly.
  • BBC iplayer
    BBC iplayer is just one of many apps which allow you to watch ‘catch up’ TV for free. ITV and channel 4 also have similar apps. They’re usually free and they mean you can choose what to watch, when you want to watch it. Simple!
  • Kindle
    You can download this app onto your device with no need to buy a Kindle. It allows you to access thousands of books of varying prices; many of which are free.
  • Silver Surf
    Silver Surf can turn your iPad screen into the equivalent of what looks like a large-print book it also has many other features designed to make accessibility much easier for those with sight/dexterity issues and is completely customizable for your own personal preferences.
  • Pillboxie
    This app allows you to store a list of your medications and set timers to remind you when and which pills to take. It’s easy to set up and simple to use.
  • Lumosity
    Lumosity combines 25+ cognitive games into a daily training program that challenges your brain. Games adapt to your unique performances — helping you stay challenged in a wide variety of cognitive tasks. Great for exercising the grey matter and helping improve memory.
  • Pandora
    Pandora is an app which is designed to tailor music to your tastes. You start by putting in the genre, artist or songs you like and Pandora suggest similar tracks. You can then ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ the matches, fine-tuning it further. It’s like having your own, personal radio station!

So, if you are trying to find opportunities for your elderly loved ones to have new experiences, or to simply find ways to make life a little easier for them, it may be worth investing in a tablet or smart phone.

You may also find this guide useful, on mobile apps that help the elderly with technology, and especially the sometimes confusing interface on modern mobile devices, written by JoyOfAndroid.

Nutrition – Walnuts

Walnuts and indeed most nuts in their raw, natural state have a wealth of health benefits that can be enjoyed by all ages. They are proven to have many properties that actively boost health and reduce the risks of developing some illnesses and diseases. And walnuts have been shown to be particularly beneficial.  In fact, just 60 grams of walnuts a day (that’s around 6-8) provide more than 100% of the daily recommended daily intake of plant based omega-3 fats.

Studies have also shown that walnuts can help reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer. They contain the amino acid l-arginine which has benefits for those with heart disease and those at risk of heart disease. This is because in the body, the amino acid arginine changes into nitric oxide which is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and improves circulation, this also reduces the chances of developing blood clots. In fact, eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels.

The anti-oxidants found in walnuts can help even out the aging process by combating free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms which are unstable and highly reactive. Our modern lifestyles of unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, smoking and stress are said to be the major cause of age-related deterioration. Nuts, especially walnuts are a perfect age fighting food as they are full of omega-3 essential fatty-acids as well as B vitamins which are excellent for the complexion – promoting smooth, supple and younger looking skin.

Including nuts in our diets can also have a positive impact on our weight. They can improve digestive functioning, and strengthen immunity due to their rich mineral content. Although nuts are a high-calorie, high-fat food, they do not encourage weight-gain. This is because nuts are filling, and after consumption, people eat less afterwards. In fact, the body does not absorb up to 20% of nuts. Trials have shown that people whose diets included extra nuts lost weight.  A September 2008 review in “The Journal of Nutrition” reported that eating nuts regularly was associated with little or no weight gain and a lower body-mass index. (This excluded peanuts, however. Peanuts are in fact legumes, like beans or peas (edible seeds that grow inside pods), and grow underground.)

Ever noticed how walnuts look a lot like miniature brains? They are an excellent brain food! They contain high levels of vitamin E folate and melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that anticipates the daily onset of darkness, essential for getting a good night’s sleep. Vitamin E is often overlooked in how it benefits the brain but it in fact plays a key role in protecting membranes for oxidation (the gain of oxygen by a substance). And it is well known how valuable omega-3 is to brain function. Often we are encouraged to eat more fish for this very benefit but it can be sourced just as easily from the humble walnut.

As well as all of the benefits I have already mentioned, walnuts have been linked to improving metabolic parameters in those suffering from type-2 diabetes. Within three months of a study, participants had significant reductions in fasting insulin levels compared to those who did not include walnuts in their diet. [2]

We are all aware that a plant-based diet has numerous health benefits. But overhauling our diets can feel daunting and overwhelming. They great thing about nuts is that they are a powerful combination of fruits and seeds, combined into an easy to eat, delicious and easy to access food stuff. If you’re looking to improve your diet, eating more nuts is a perfect way to start once you realise the phenomenal amount of benefit it could have on your life. And smoother skin? I’m eating them for that reason alone.

The benefits of exercise can be great

It is never too late to begin a programme of exercise and the benefits can be great. Improving your strength, stamina and balance will not only make you feel better, you may lose weight and lessen your risk of having a fall due to poor balance.

Balance is affected by several factors; decreased vision, weak hips and legs, poor posture and general weakness. Some prescription drugs can have side-effects that affect balance. Low blood pressure and not eating properly can also lead to light-headedness, making us more susceptible to a fall. That is why beginning a balance programme which incorporates strength training, endurance training and balance training is essential in maintaining and promoting good balance and overall health and wellbeing. It’s best to approach beginning exercise gently,5 minutes a day is enough to make a difference and you can increase this over time as your strength and stamina improve.

A study published in the journal Age in 2014 trained and tested a group of 24 people aged between 91 and 96 for 12 weeks. One group of 11 trained twice a week, carrying out vigorous exercises for strength and to improve balance. The 13 others did 30 minutes of far less strenuous mobility training, including gentle stretching and flexibility exercises. At the end of the experiment, the first group showed a significant improvement in walking speed, hip and knee flexibility. Their muscle mass had increased, they found it easier to get out of their chairs and they were less likely to fall over.

The group that did less strenuous exercise showed far less progress. Professor Mikel Izquierdo, who led the research, said physical inactivity causes muscle loss and frailty. He said: ‘The training raised their functional capacity, lowered the risk of falls, and improved muscle power. To get all of the benefits of physical activity, try all four types of exercise; endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

This will give you the maximum benefit. Just make sure that you never exercise when you feel unwell, have a fever or swollen joints. It is also always very important to speak with your doctor before you begin a new exercise regime, especially if you have underlying health problems that could be exacerbated by undertaking a sudden change in your activity levels.

You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to if you become unsteady. In the beginning, using a chair or the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely. It’s a great starting point for someone new to exercise as they are usually simple and low impact and will be most important in helping you reduce your risk of losing balance and falling.