5 resolutions for Halcyon Home Care in 2014

The end of one year and start of another are frantically busy times in home care. Not only do many families ask us to keep a caring eye on relatives while they are away or distracted by the mountain of tasks that this time of year always entails, but the needs for provision of social care are continuous. As we settle back into some semblance of normality, we now have time to reflect on what we want, and what we intend, for 2014.

  1. This year we will prove that we are up for the Dementia Challenge launched last year. We have already appointed a Dementia Champion, and will be continually and carefully redesigning and promoting our dementia services. We will look to meet more than simply the basic care needs of those with dementia, but also look to support them holistically and improve their quality of living every day.
  2. We will be watching the progress of the Care Bill as it moves through the legislative process, and are resolved to be vocal – giving credit where credit is due, but not being afraid to challenge areas and aspects of debate which we feel are not hitting the spot.
  3. In a similar vein, we will be proactive in sharing the great stories and examples of care excellence which are the mark of our agency. It isn’t simply to market ourselves but is, much more importantly, to counter the poisonous impact of negative elderly care stories which the media love, but which do such a disservice to our wonderful carers and to other people like us who strive to be different. Shine a light on bad practice by all means – but don’t assume all carers are the same.
  4. Continue to partner positively and proactively with the Local Authority, as we work together to try to meet more of the growing needs for elderly care among the aging populations in Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot. As a company we’ll be increasing the number of Halcyon-trained care staff and ensuring that they live and breathe our care philosophy of delivering quality care with respect, and continuity.
  5. Lastly, we plan on having fun – with both our team and our customers. A little lightness can go a long way to helping our clients deal with what can sometimes be a tough decision to bring in a helping hand — and to help our carers cope in what is a very demanding job. Plus – it keeps us sane in the office, as we juggle an ever increasing number of care hours!

We’re looking forward to a great 2014.
Happy New Year to all, from the Halcyon Home Care team.


Winter Dementia Care: 6 Ways to Care for People with Dementia

Homecare250pxWe all respond in different ways to longer dark evenings, colder weather and the changes in family routines that Christmas and the holiday seasons bring.

Dementia care at this time of year is essential. People who suffer with dementia are often more affected and can become more confused during periods of change, necessitating more attention. Careful dementia care is important. As a professional care agency we incorporate all of the following practices into our care management and advice for our customers:

1. Think about inclement weather planning
Berkshire may not be famous for snow-drifts and white-outs but this means our transport systems are sometimes more affected than towns in Siberia when the snow and ice comes! So, we need to manage the risk of difficulties in getting to the shops by keeping a minimum of 3 days’ food in the house. Using even a small freezer compartment for a small loaf and a pint of milk is something to consider. If solid fuel is used for heating, then regular checks on stock levels are essential.

2. Only go out when dressed up for the cold
We now know that the number-one cause of illness and death in winter is down to very cold weather! So, Halcyon discourages customers from going outside and asks whether there is someone else to go to the shops or get things delivered. If they must go outside, we encourage them to dress warmly in layers with hats, gloves, scarves, windproof and waterproof jackets, and wear shoes that are waterproof and have a good grip. That means storing those items so that it is difficult not to “forget” to wear them when they go out. And, where we can’t find those items easily to hand, that we notice it and encourage family members to buy winter-weather clothes.

3. Keep the home warm
Although we all worry about energy costs the home must be kept warm. Some people with dementia can get confused or anxious about heaters and central heating systems. Try to arrange for automatic timer systems that keep the living area in the home at around 18-21°C. We also discourage the practice that is prevalent among many elderly people of sleeping with an open bedroom window – both to save energy and for security reasons.

4. Take action against loneliness and isolation
For reasons that are often linked to sunlight and sunshine, loneliness and depression are more apparent in the winter months. For those suffering with dementia and living on their own, regular and routine visiting is an essential part of their wellbeing. Late afternoon visitors need to take the responsibility to pull the curtains and switch on a light for when it gets darker later. Try to start or bring some activity to get them involved with, doing it together if possible. If it is not possible for the family to sit down with a dementia sufferer, arrange with a care agency to stop by for a regular companionship call during the week.

5. Eat Well
People with dementia are prone to “missing” meals; but our bodies keep warm by burning the food we eat! Hot meals with plenty of carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, pasta and rice), stews and soups help keep illnesses at bay and maintain health and wellbeing. There is also no quicker way to warm the body from inside than with a warm drink of hot chocolate, tea or coffee. Our carers work to care plans, ensuring at least one cooked meal a day in winter, with plenty of hot drinks during the visits and throughout the day.

6. Manage expectations for the holiday period
People with dementia can become anxious with changes in routine and in unfamiliar places. Visiting them at home is often less stressful than taking them out. Family members need to be prepared, and understand that when faced with a new environment a common reaction for those affected is to ask to be taken home after a very short period. This is not a reaction to anything that has been done or said and offense should not be taken. Furthermore, if you are considering bringing in carers to manage in your absence over a holiday period, arrange for plenty of short visits prior to the departure in order to allow enough time for a relationship to be built before departing.

Big family gatherings around Christmas lunches with lots of “unfamiliar” faces can trigger confusion. The need to buy and receive Christmas presents can also increase fretfulness and concern. Families need to manage the Christmas presents issue, preferably by reassuring them that the presents have all been taken care of. But despite these issues, try not to leave someone alone on Christmas Day. Make them feel wanted and involve them appropriately in the preparations and the activities; suffering from dementia does not mean you are incapable of peeling potatoes! We always advise families they will have a more successful gathering when they manage both their own expectations as well as the event.

Ann Smith -Dementia Champion, Halcyon Home Care


Halcyon Home Care appoints Dementia Champion

Homecare-staffHalycon puts Dementia Challenge ideas into action as the local population ages

Halcyon Home Care has appointed a Dementia Champion. Ann Smith, a Senior Carer with 11 years of experience as a care assistant, senior and operation co-ordinator, has accepted the role. She will, with immediate effect, be commencing a best practices programme to support current and future customers in Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot. In a climate of huge concern over elderly care quality standards Halcyon Home Care is demonstrating its commitment to absolute excellence and putting resources in place to support the growing number of people in Berkshire living with dementia.

Just as in the rest of Britain, Berkshire faces a steadily ageing population and a steady increase in the numbers of people with dementia. Nationally, David Cameron’s Dementia Challenge, which launched in March 2012, aims to tackle the issues affecting people living with dementia by driving improvements in health and care, creating dementia-friendly communities and improving dementia research.  Locally, as the number of people living with the condition increases it is likely to put additional strain on resources. Halcyon Home Care is a CQC-approved care services provider which works with the RWBM local authority as well as with private clients.
This appointment means the business will be better prepared to deliver the very best care possible. The key tasks will be to develop: a shared vision of best practice in caring at home for dementia sufferers; a specialist carer in dementia from a thorough understanding of dementia and the challenges it presents to the provision of care in the home; a training programme to share this knowledge across the Halcyon Home Care workforce; an annual Dementia Care Audit of the practices of Halcyon Home Care for its customers with dementia.

Halcyon Home Care has first-hand understanding of the real need for older people to maintain independence and control. It believes that caring for someone living at home with dementia is an area where all care agencies should endeavour to make improvements in quality. Its recent announcement is a fighting step towards helping to plan for the future now.

Said Ann: “This is an important idea that I wanted to be a part of. It won’t be simple, as in my experience no two people with dementia are affected in the same way or have the same home environment and circumstance. But we already provide care that is appreciated and this work will help us provide it every time to the best of our ability while learning how to do it even better.”

Paul Dunn-Sims, Executive Partner of Halcyon Home Care, commented: “We feel we have to stay at the front of any developments in care practices for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia illnesses. By appointing Ann, we can develop a specialist who remains a hands-on carer and will see it from a care perspective rather than as a medical specialist. Our aim is to develop a culture of best practice and understanding across our care teams, led by the specialist input of Ann that can be called upon when customers need it.”

See press release here

Supplementary information

• The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that by 2021 there will be one million people with a form of dementia in the UK, and that steady growth is expected to over 1.7 million by 2051. The financial cost of dementia to the UK will be over £23 billion in 2012.
• In the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead the population of elderly residents is steadily growing (a result of improved lifestyles, diets, and medical advancements). The RBWM Local Development Framework1 publishes that approximately 15% of the Royal Borough’s population are aged 65 years and over and 2% of the population are aged 85 years and over. This is the highest proportion of all of the authorities in Berkshire. What’s more, population projections for the borough suggest that there will be an increase of nearly 24% in the 65-84 age range, and nearly 55% in the number of over 85 year olds by 2020. With dementia currently affecting 7% of the borough’s population of 65 years and over this is projected to rise by 35% by 2020.