Care Act for carers: One year on

We welcome the findings of the Carers Trust’s new report ‘Care Act for carers: One year on’.

This shows that there are some carers who are getting good support under the Care Act, as well as some examples of good practice.

It also shows what needs to improve. Too many carers were unaware of their rights. Practitioners need to understand that a carer’s right to support is independent of the person they care for.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care said:

“I welcome this report and was very pleased to be invited to provide evidence. Support for carers is an important feature that CQC has to see in order to award a Good or Outstanding rating. The best services we see value the contribution that carers can make and proactively consider their needs as well as the needs of people using services.

“Carers’ organisations are involved in our coproduction meetings that develop the way we work and I am grateful for their contribution.”

Belmont Sandbanks is discussed on Channel Radio - Listen Again...

This week Director of Belmont Sandbanks Care Group - Adam Hutchison discusses the care business and the Kent Integrated Care Alliance on the business bunker / Kent Business Radio on Channel Radio. Discussing working in the industry, the perception and the joys of working in the care sector.

Download and Listen Again Here

http://www.kentbusinessradio.co.uk/category/shows link for the show here

See more on our Twitter page

Carers – The UK’s unsung heroes – What can we give back?

The UK’s 7m unpaid carers are amongst the most giving people we know.

They are all around us, caring for mums, husbands, daughters, sons, brothers, grans, friends….the list is endless, and they do this free of charge and unconditionally because they have an emotional connection with the person they care for.

Anyone can be a carer, a 7 year old boy helping his mum with her cancer treatments, a 90 year old woman supporting her husband with dementia, a 30 year old dad caring for his daughter born with cerebral palsy or a 60 year old woman caring for her dad who is old and frail.

3 in 5 of us will be a carer at some point, carers are all around us, propping up our health and social care systems, preventing winter deaths, keeping people out of our stretched A&E departments, providing a wide array of nursing and personal care tasks and ensuring people with care needs don’t become lonely and isolated.

Along with caring, unpaid carers have their own lives to lead at school, at work, with family and in the community, but they just keep on giving, sometimes at great personal cost to their own health and wellbeing. In fact the economic value of their gift is estimated at around £135bn every year, and its growing as our demography changes and we all live longer.

So, we should all ask ourselves, what can we give back to carers?

This blog was produced by @LuenThompson, who is the Director or Marketing and Communications at the @CarersTrust.

Vascular Dementia – Helpful questions and answers

What is Vascular Dementia?

Vascular Dementia (VD) is a condition caused by a lack of sufficient oxygen and nutrients to the brain, causing the cells within the brain to eventually die. The blood vessels that carry blood to the brain become diseased – they are often weakened and leak, or can become blocked, decreasing their effectiveness in delivering vital oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Of the various identifiable types of dementia, VD is the second most-common form, with approximately 150,000 sufferers in the UK.

Here is a useful video that providers a brief outline of what Vascular Dementia is.

How is it caused?

There are two primary reasons why the condition may develop.

Cause 1 – The most common cause is the degeneration of tiny blood vessels deep within the brain, this is called Subcortical Dementia.  The tiny bloody vessels can thicken, which in turn reduces the blood supply to those cells, causing them to degenerate and eventually die. The nerve fibres around the affected blood vessels are also harmed, reducing their effectiveness. The disease of the tiny bloody vessels can also affect other areas of the brain, including the base, if blood vessels are blocked here it could cause small infarcts – also known as an ischaemic stroke.

Cause 2 – The second most common cause of VD is following a stroke. Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly cut-off, this can be as a result of a blood clot (an ischaemic stroke) or less commonly, where a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain (a haemorrhagic stroke). Around 1 in 5 people who suffer a stroke will develop dementia on top of the side effects of the stroke itself. Most people who have suffered a stroke will have another and therefore the risk of developing dementia increases with each stroke event as more of the brain becomes damaged.

How can it affect someone?

The symptoms of VD can vary from person to person, often dictated by the root cause of the dementia, whether it be as a result of vascular disease, or following a stroke. The speed in which the symptoms can take hold can also vary, the damage following a stroke is often instantaneous, whereas the effects of vascular disease can develop over time.

Early symptoms and effects can include:

  • Problems concentrating on tasks – this could be shown in activities such as planning, making decisions or problem solving.   They may also struggle to follow instructions, and their thought process may be slower.
  • Mild memory loss.
  • Problems with articulating what they want to say – their speech may become less fluent as they concentrate on finding the words.
  • Easily frustrated – this is often a result of the issues highlighted above.
  • Depression and sudden changes in mood – the depression is often as a result of the sufferer becoming aware of the cognitive effects (listed above).
  • Weak bladder – this is associated with subcortical VD sufferers, and can be accompanied by a weakness on one particular side of their body.
  • Dizziness or tremors.

As the disease progresses (stroke-related VD often will become worse following each new stroke episode; whereas subcortical VD will worsen gradually), long term symptoms and effects include:

  • Severe confusion and memory loss – day to day tasks become harder and sufferers are likely to need support on a daily basis.
  • Problems with communication and comprehension.
  • Changes to their personality and behaviour – they can become aggressive, irritable and easily agitated.
  • Suffer delusions and hallucinations.

What treatments are available?

Sadly the brain damage caused by VD cannot be treated to stop the degeneration, nor can it be reversed. However, with careful and managed support an individual with VD can continue to live well.

Caring for a loved one with VD can be hard, but these simple tips can help you support your loved one and give them some much-needed structure when they need it:

  • Establish a routine – this will help them feel less agitated.
  • Keep them occupied – it is important to help keep their mind and body active (where possible), whether it be a short walk, social activities or something as simple as tending to plants. This helps add structure to their day to day lives, as well as providing a sense of purpose.
  • Don’t be afraid to communicate with your loved one – though they may struggle to comprehend you, it is important they do not feel isolated and a smile or arm around the shoulder can help you both feel comfortable.

As well as taking on the care yourself, there are many different types of external support available, and family and friends of those with the disease are encouraged to explore these options. UK Care Guide was founded to offer honest and reliable support for anyone needing care for themselves or a relative – and our website contains a wealth of information about ongoing care, the costs of care (including our handy Care Calculator) and your options for care for your loved one.

Thanks to the UK Care Guide for their recent Blog Article.

Social care industry at breaking point due to planned increase in national living wage

TV viewers fell in love with Derek, the kind care worker portrayed by Ricky Gervais, who looks after the elderly residents of the Broad Hill nursing home.

Yet Kent care bosses say jobs for people like the loveable Channel 4 character are under threat from cuts to funding and an increase in labour costs from the national living wage due in April next year.

The county’s care industry is at breaking point according to Adam Hutchison, who represents about 200 care providers across the county as an executive board member of the Kent Integrated Care Alliance.

He said private care homes will close if local authorities do not provide more money and claims the cost of caring for residents allocated through social services has been underfunded for more than a decade.

Mr Hutchison, who is director of Belmont Sandbanks Care Group, which operates homes in Romney Marsh and near Hastings, said his company receives £408.48 per patient per week from Kent County Council.

Yet his private fees for residential care range from £550 to £650 per week.

In East Sussex care homes receive £496 a week while in Hampshire the figure is £574.

In west Kent, the figure increases to £440.30.

The situation has been made worse by increases in the cost of workers.

“We need to increase what is funded by central and local government to accommodate the increase in labour costs forced on us by government...” - Adam Hutchison, Kent Integrated Care Alliance

Over the last 10 years the national minimum wage has gone up from £5.35 in 2006 to £6.70 last month, an increase of 25%. Another 6% increase will be introduced in April when the government introduces its £7.20 national living wage.

However, the Kent County Council rate for supporting residents in care homes has risen by only 5% since 2008 – with the additional cost swallowed by private businesses.

The latest increase in the national minimum wage at the start of October is expected to cost Mr Hutchison’s business £26,000 in increased labour costs. The introduction of the national living wage in April is due to up that by another £70,000.

He claims government payments need to increase by £20.52 per week per person just to stand still, with that due to increase once the living wages comes into effect.

Mr Hutchison, who employs more than 75 people, said: “As a sector we are all for the national living wage because people don’t get paid enough.

“However, how are we able to fund that? We are constantly under pressure to improve quality but we are at breaking point in care.

“The private market subsidises the social services market. Those who pay privately will have to pay more than those who come through social services.

“We need to increase what is funded by central and local government to accommodate the increase in labour costs forced on us by government.”

“We have got the national living wage and all the pressures it brings, which is probably more than the impact of the amount which can be raised through council tax..." - Cllr Graham Gibbens

“If this doesn’t happen, the short term result is independently run businesses in Kent, small family-run providers,will begin to exit the market and decide to build houses on their land or look at another form of business on the site.

“Then there will be a knock on for employment, with the long term effect larger national providers will come in and be able to charge what they want.

“We’re not trying to plead poverty but we are under pressure as a business sector.”

In the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to allow councils to put council tax bills up by 2% provided all the money was used to help fund social care.

Kent County Council cautiously welcomed the move.

Cabinet member for adult social care & public health Graham Gibbens said: “The announcement was only recent and it is too early to give a forensic analysis.

“The big issue is how the 2% is going to be used but I do welcome it.

“The Government has recognised that social care does need to be funded.

“We have got the national living wage and all the pressures it brings, which is probably more than the impact of the amount which can be raised through council tax.

“One of the big things we need to do is encourage people to stay at home as long as they can and avoid going into residential care..." - Cllr Graham Gibbens

“As a local authority we have a duty to ensure there’s a vibrant social care market and we have a duty to ensure there’s appropriate funding to the sector.”

He said he would have been “very disappointed” if funding was cut and hopes to be able to increase funding in the future.

He added: “One of the big things we need to do is encourage people to stay at home as long as they can and avoid going into residential care.

"We have been quite successful at keeping people out of residential care but as people get older many do not have any other option.

“How we manage that is an issue.”

He has also approved plans to force KCC to pay the same amount to social care providers wherever they are in the county, which comes into force next year.

Searching for a Home Care Provider

With the costs of residential care being very high, more and more people are looking to receive specialist, and paid for, care in their own home. This is often delivered by specialist care provider agencies, who employ carers with specific training and expertise in providing care in the home.

Picking a  specialist, and paid for, home care provider can be a difficult thing to do. That is why we have created a search facility to allow you to find a specialist carer in your area. Just put in details below of where you are and what kind of home care you are looking for.

Advantages and disadvantages of receiving paid for care in the home

Deciding whether to have care in the home, from a specialist care provider, can be a big decision, and there are a number of advantages and challenges that you need to think through.

Advantages of receiving care in the home

Financial benefit – Receiving care in the home is significantly cheaper. Average costs for care in the home are about £11,000 per year if you have a part-time carer, compared to about £30,000 per year if you lived in a residential care home.

Maintain your independence – Living in your own home allows you to maintain some independence and remain in familiar surroundings.

Friends and family – Being close to friends and family allows you to receive regular visitors in an environment they are familiar and comfortable with

You retain control – you remain in control over the support that you need and the areas where you want the carers to help you

Challenges with receiving care in the home

Be with other people – One of the advantages of a residential care home is that you are with other people and have the ability to interact with others on a daily basis. If you are living alone, you may find this lonely, especially if family and friends are not close by.

Risk of being on your own – Even though your carer will visit you on a regular, if not daily basis, it can still be a risk for you being at home, especially if your health is not what it used to be.

Value of your home – Another point that often gets missed until later, is that you may need to make modifications to your home to make it easier for you to get around. However, when it comes to selling your home, these modifications can negatively impact on the value of your home as any potential buyer may need to remove your changes and put the house back to ‘normal’.

Who Cares about the Care Sector?

The results of a National Care Association survey of independent Care provider members has shown that 24% of care providers could exist the market.

The very people the care sector relies on to provide high quality care are being squeezed to the point where many are considering and exit from the sector, which could create a serious bed shortage and have serious repercussions for the wider NHS.

The National Care Associations predicts – due to the £375 m black hole in state funding – such an exit could equate to the loss of 40,000 beds in the independent social care market. and the worsening of the bed blocking crisis already in evidence across much of the NHS.

The NCA points to a critical shortfall in the average council funding of about 8% for a typical care home placement care home placement as the significant contributory factor in the likely exodus of care providers. This underfunding together with the impact on Care Sector overheads of the introduction of the NLW National Living Wage in April 2016 is seriously eroding the viability of many care homes businesses.

Without increasing funding from local councils in recognition of the true cost of care the predicted market crash will spell the end of the road for many independent care homes … In short under very real threat is a UK support service which is essential to local government and NHS care provision.

More detail of the reports can be found in the following Links

100 days and counting

Impact of Budget Survey 2015

George Osborne MP