Carers Week 2012

June 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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With over six million carers in the UK it is paramount that their tireless work is appreciated and that they are recognised as individuals, which is why I support Carers Week. An annual awareness campaign brought together by a coalition of charities including Age UK, Carers UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and Carers Trust.

This year’s campaign centres around the theme ‘In sickness and in health’ and hopes to educate carers on looking after their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the loved one who they care for.

Carers Week 2012

Carers Week 18th – 24th June 2012

In a recent study it’s been reported that nearly 40% of carers put their own health in jeopardy because of their caring commitments. Some carers don’t feel that they have the time or support to seek medical attention for themselves, whilst others are so tightly wrapped up in the welfare of their loved one that their personal needs get overlooked.

Government cuts and tightly squeezed local authorities unfortunately mean that many unpaid carers are receiving little help from the state. Sadly more and more carers are being forced to give up work to care full time, subsequently meaning that their lives revolve solely around caring. It comes as little surprise that a majority of health issues affecting carers are due to the heavy strain of being a primary carer.

carers week young carer

Support carers of all ages this Carers Week

As well as encouraging carers to seek the necessary help and advice in all areas of their caring life- health, well-being and financial support- Carers Week also encourages carers to find time for themselves with a host of events been held up and down the country this week.

Events range from workshops in arts and crafts to tai chi and yoga which aim to help carers de-stress. For people who’d prefer a simple chat over a cup of tea and biscuits, social gatherings and coffee mornings are also on the agenda; perfect if you’re looking to make friends with other carers, which can be extremely beneficial if you care full time.

Carers make life so much more fulfilling for elderly, poorly and disabled people, which is why I think Carers Week is a campaign that is worth supporting; visit www.carersweek.org for more information.

Royal Mail price increases enforced today

April 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Royal Mail caused outrage earlier this year when they announced that the price of first and second class stamps would be increased by 14 pence. In recent weeks angry customers have stockpiled on postage stamps to avoid paying the increased prices that were enforced today.

From now on purchasing a first class stamp will cost 60p while a second class stamp will cost 50p. Sadly it’s thought that elderly people and those with small businesses will be hit hardest by the price increases.

postage stamps

Royal Mail price increase starts today

Here at Bath-Knight we receive daily thank you letters and cards from elderly customers who rely heavily on Royal Mail to send letters and messages to communicate with their family and friends. For many of these elderly people, who live off low incomes and are Royal Mail’s most devoted customers, the increased price will prove to be extremely costly and possibly force them to seek alternatives methods of communication.

Like the majority of people I’d be sad to see Royal Mail demise because it’s a postal service which has served the country for so many years. However, with such price escalations, in a period of economic hardship, I imagine that lots of people will eventually chose cheaper digital options like e-mailing, instant messaging, social media and texting.

Fingers crossed the tradition of sending handwritten letters won’t be lost forever because there really is something special about receiving a personalised letter in the mail every once in a while.

For a full Royal Mail price list as of 30th April 2012- please click here.

Mobility Scooter- Driving Test Training

April 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mobility scooters are a great resource for elderly and disabled people who struggle to get out and about.  My own mobility scooter brand, Road-Knight, supplies a variety of scooters including road and pavement only scooters, which provide customers with a sense of independence, and in some cases a lifeline to the world outside.

Road-Knight customers are able to visit us to learn more about the scooters which we offer. However, some providers don’t supply this opportunity to their customers meaning that many people using mobility scooters for the first time go out without any training or knowledge of how to handle a scooter.  

If you are planning to purchase a mobility scooter for the first time I would strongly advice trying before you buy, especially if you are purchasing off the internet where prices are extremely competitive. Most mobility centres stock huge ranges of scooters and are more than happy to demonstrate and let you test drive different scooters so that you can work out which scooter is suitable for your needs, something which is very important.

mobility scooter elderly lady

Mobility scooter users face driving test style training

Statistics have sadly revealed that in the past five years there have been 17 incidents across the country where mobility scooters have been involved in accidents. This has resulted in both police forces and charities calling for driving test style training for mobility scooter users.

In South Yorkshire the police are planning to offer local users of mobility scooters a free two hour course which will cover different aspects of owning a mobility scooter. From how to handle the machine, how to manoeuver safely and confidently, theory practice which is appropriate to understand as a scooter driver and the legalities of travelling via scooter involving speed limits, serving the machine, using lights etc.

Further to South Yorkshire police’s training course, Labour MP Alison Seabeck, has fronted a campaign which calls for stricter regulations and checks on mobility scooters and their owners. This campaign has received backing from Scooter-A-Long, a charity for disabled people in the South West, who hope that it will reduce accidents and ensure safer conditions for scooter users, road users and pedestrians.  

As a supplier of mobility scooters, and a host of other mobility aids, I feel strongly about helping people regain their independence and believe that access to such equipment is paramount in doing so. However, safety is crucial when using any mobility aid therefore access to training and practical help is a positive step forward and could potentially give scooter users more confidence about getting out and about both independently and safely.

Rotary Club restore Westbury White Horse for Diamond Jubilee

April 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I’m always coming across stories which note how generous and able elderly people are. Whether it’s jumping out of aeroplanes for a good cause or simply volunteering their time and effort for charity. Lots of elderly people are giving back to the community and in turn fulfilling their later years with brilliant experiences.

Earlier today I read an article from the BBC which discusses a Rotary Club in Wiltshire whose members are planning to abseil down the hillside of the Westbury White Horse so that they can clean the iconic horse carving in time for this summer’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

Westbury White Horse

Westbury White Horse

The news of the club coming together isn’t surprising; I imagine that lots of organisation will be undertaking projects for this summer’s festivities. But what is astonishing is that so many members of the Rotary Club are so keen to take an active role and really get involvement in the abseiling. It’s worth remembering that the average age of the club’s member is 72 and they are all welcoming the challenge of buckling themselves into a harness for a good cause within their community.

For me the Westbury White Horse project is a brilliant example of how getting involved in a club or organisation can be extremely beneficial later in life. The Rotary Club work on projects that will benefit their local community so members put their time and effort into projects that they are passionate about, whilst also meeting new friends and delving into challenges which they may not have done otherwise. Feeling too old to do things can often be a real problem when people get older but it shouldn’t be.  

rotary club abseiling

Members of The Rotary Club will abseil down Westbury White Horse hillside

As an aging population the open mindedness that the Rotary Club has is fantastic. They aren’t letting age define them and why should they? New challenges are a great way to regain a sense of independence which is why we should all try something new every now and again. Of course I’m not suggesting that we all abseil or take on an extreme sport but if you want to then why not. We should all welcome opportunities to enjoy ourselves.

I’d love to know if you’re part of a community group or if you’ve take on an extreme challenge, which you never thought you would do, and if so how did it affect your perspective of old age.

Granny Tax- Budget 2012

March 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m sure that the details of yesterday’s budget will be the topic of many conversations today especially amongst the elderly who appear to have been hit hard by George Osbourne’s Budget 2012.

The Chancellor has introduced a “Granny Tax” which is set to affect 4.5 million pensioners as he plans to phase out the age related allowances which were introduced by Winston Churchill in 1925.

George Osbourne Chancellor

The Chancellor- George Osbourne

Pensions aged 65 plus are currently not taxed on the first £10,500 of their income and for those aged 75 plus this amount is £10,660. This has now been frozen meaning that pensioners will lose an average of £63 annually.

However, new pensioners will be hit worse off as the age related allowance will be withdrawn completely by April of next year meaning that they will lose out on £197 yearly.

pensioners

Granny Tax will affect half of all pensioners

The Chancellor defended these cuts, which are set to have an impact on half of all pensioners, by stating that Granny Tax would raise an estimated £3 billion and simplify the system. Adding that state pension would be increased by £5 in coming weeks, a welcomed bonus for all pensioners.

Regardless of such Granny Tax has become a point of anger amongst many older people and aging organisations that think it is an unfair move by the government and I agree. As phasing out age related tax relief for elderly people appears to be incredibly harsh. Surely we should be taking care of our aging pensioners rather than burdening them with even tighter budgets.

What is independence?

March 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The digital world is a wonderful place to share ideas and thoughts. Earlier today Ruth Amos inventor of StairSteady proposed the question, ‘what does independence mean for you and your customers?’ as part of a project to find out the meaning of independence to different people and businesses.

Here at Bath-Knight independence is a treasured way of life which we hope to enhance. Often my customers yearn to remain living independently in their own homes, which is why I get so much pleasure from knowing that my products, especially the Bath-Knight bath lift, are designed and used as tools to enable independent living for older people.

elderly couple living independently

Independence - living life as you desire

I have always been an advocate in encouraging older people to remain in their homes for as long as possible and this is because too often we hear horror stories regarding quality of care in elderly care facilities. More recently this poor service has been coupled with extortionate cost that far outreach funds available to an elderly people or their family.

This substandard quality of care has resulted in thousands petitioning for the government to take action. Today 60 charities including Age UK and Joseph Rowntree Foundation are lobbying MP’s at Westminster, urging the government to reform the current care system into a service which is of high quality, cost effective and accessible to all.

These lacking qualities in our current care system seemingly strip away any independence for people receiving such care. I often question why an increased focus isn’t put on the ways to enable elderly people to remain in their own homes for longer. Simple and thought-out modification can enable the freedom of independent living which integrates both safety and quality of life for elderly people.

So for me the premise of independence is the ability to live life as you desire with the freedom and choice to live at home. Growing older should not become a problem instead we should celebrate this feat of longevity together and adapt our lifestyles accordingly.

Good Care Guide – Review site for eldercare and childcare facilities

February 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Good Care Guide, a website which allows users to rate and review care facilities for elderly people and children has been launched this week.  The elderly sector specifically has questioned whether or not such sites are appropriate.

Like Trip Advisor the Good Care Guide (GCG) allows users to review their experiences- good or bad. Reviews are published online allowing other users to read and take into consideration when deciding upon an elderly care home or childcare centre for loved ones.

Good Care Guide

New review website - Good Care Guide

The ‘user experience’ element of the site is something which interests me greatly. A huge believer in sharing experiences I regularly take recommendation on board and so do my customers. Many Bath-Knight customers recommend us to friends and family and these word of mouth recommendations have brought us great success over the years.

So generally I think that an archive of personal reviews, cleverly stored on a single online database, has the potential to be a great resource. Plus it adds a new dynamic to the way that we reviewed and assessed care facilities.

However it’s difficult to ignore the nature of these specific reviews. Writing about incredibly personal and in some cases sensitive subjects, many reviews will be emotionally charged. For these reasons I can’t help but feel that some established care facilities may fall victim to reviews which don’t truly reflect their services.

Good Care Guide ladies

Hopefully the website will be used alongside other resources

I’ve also read that healthcare professionals are concerned that the site maybe be used as a playground for naming and shaming and I can understand their concern- it’s often said that people are more likely to write about a negative experience more so than a positive one. But if the correct safeguards are put in place to ensure reliability and balance I can’t see why Good Care Guide won’t be an informative site to visit.

Overall I’d hope to think that people would use the site as a resource which they can combine with more official information; local authority reports, staff levels and quality of care. I’d also suggest remembering that your opinion may differ from someone else’s so take each review with a pinch of salt and read a handful to get a general idea.

Websites of the Week 30th January- 4th February 2012

February 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Annette's websites of the week

Met Office/BBC WeatherAfter a week of freezing temperatures and reports of snow for many parts of the UK this weekend it’s easy to feel a little fed up with the weather.

However, it’s important to remember that in such extreme coldness, the Met Office issued a Level 3 Severe Weather Warning earlier this week, vulnerable and elderly people are at a significantly higher risk of becoming ill and lonely.

BBC Weather

During period of bad weather I always find that preparation is vital. Whether you’re an elderly person who’s worried about getting out and about or have family member to care for. Before making any plans always check weather reports- I find that the Met Office’s website is extremely thorough but BBC Weather is a little more user friendly. Nevertheless both sites give up to date and reliable information.

It’s also a nice idea to call in on elderly neighbours during the winter months especially if you’ve not seen any family or friends dropping by for a couple of days. I like to take a plate of dinner around with me- even if my neighbour doesn’t eat it, it can be refrigerated and enjoyed later.

For more tips on staying warm during the winter read my previous blog- Winter Warmers.

 

National Trust I’ve written about the National Trust several times before and that’s largely because I’m a big fan of heritage sites. Plus there always seems to be somewhere to go within the National Trust regardless of where you are in the country.

National Trust membership

Personally I’ve found that purchasing an annual membership is worthwhile especially if you’ve got a family. When I was recently renewing my own membership I saw that the National Trust is now offering a 25% discount on all annual memberships– this offer is an introductory rate for the first year only. Although this discount rate isn’t available to existing members it’s perfect if you’re hoping to explore the National Trust for the first time.

There really is plenty to do and having a family membership has proved to be incredibly usefully for me and my family during the years. Even better the entire family can enjoy the fun as senior memberships are available and children under 5 get in for free.

 

BookRabbit.comAs a book lover I relish the chance to talk to other literature enthusiasts about my favourite new releases and old classics which I’ve read time and time again.

Last week I recommend Good Web Guide, which hosts hundreds of quality websites. After exploring the site more this week I’ve found BookRabbit.com an online community site which brings books lovers together.

book-rabbit-logo

A little bit like Facebook in the respect that it focuses around networking, the site promises to ‘Bring your bookshelf to life’ as it simply encourages users to post a photograph of their bookshelf and then explore the shelves of other users who favour similar authors and genres.

Users can review books, join discussions and check out which authors are up and coming in 2012. It’s a site I’m happy to recommend and a great place to proudly display your bookshelf to people who really will appreciate it!

Should older people have to downsize their homes?

October 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In difficult financial times the finger of blame is often pointed. Reports on where things have gone wrong are frequently at the forefront of news features along with suggestions of how things can be altered to make problematic areas more beneficial to social today.

This week housing problems have flooded the news, with an estimated 25 million empty bedrooms in the UK it has been suggested that older people are becoming a home “hoarders” by holding on to homes which are too big for their needs.

lovely house

I am outraged by suggestions that older people should contemplate downsizing to make room for young families. I have to ask myself who is in a position to make such a suggestion which could potentially plan out somebody else’s life.

For many a home has sentimental value along with a collection of memories which can’t be packed up and taken to another property. Furthermore these so called “house hoarders” have worked hard for many years to own their homes. Why should their hard work be dismissed so easily?

Of course downsizing is perfectly acceptable and can be a great move for people who want to adjust their living arrangement to suit their personal needs. However, it’s unfair for older people to be made to feel as though they don’t belong in their own homes anymore.  

Has anyone considered that those 25 million empty rooms aren’t permanently empty? Some weekends they are occupied by excited grandchildren or visiting friends. During the week they are the home to sewing machines and book cases which keep the mind active.

To so ignorantly suggest that these empty rooms are merely a drain on social is so unfortunate. We can only hope that these suggestions to downsize don’t enforce any ill-fated decisions for older and often vulnerable members of society.

Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels- Episode 4

October 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Meals on wheels logoLast night Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels series came to an end after four brilliant episodes which documented Si King and Dave Myers’ mission to reinvent Meals on Wheels into a service which older people of Britain could truly rely upon.

Throughout the series we’ve seen Si and Dave work in Elmbridge, Surrey and Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire. In last night’s episode the pair revisited both communities to see how Meals on Wheels is progressing thus far.

The Hairy Bikers’ weren’t disappointed as although the two services have different foundations; Elmbridge is a council funded service, whereas Slaithwaite depends solely on volunteers and fundraising. The two have come on leaps and bounds since the Hairy Bikers’ first introduced their new Meals on Wheels plan.

meals on wheels team

 

So much so that last night’s episode had a somewhat celebratory theme. In Slaithwaite the team have mastered the basics and are now making their service a little more diverse. By offering a monthly community lunch older people are getting the chance to meet one another and eat lunch together; giving them something to look forward to and get more social interaction.

In Elmbridge, where the team work to a tight budget (only £1.25 a head) they were surprised by a rather special guest who dropping in for lunch. The Duchess of Cornwall, who is an enormous advocate of the Meals on Wheels service, joined the team and the Hairy Bikers’ to lend a recipe and meet Meals on Wheels volunteers and recipients.

meals on wheels camilla

Elsewhere with the buzz around Meals on Wheels mounting Si, Dave and their Meals on Wheels teams took to London to share the new brand identity and hopefully raise Meals on Wheels’ profile.

It was great to see famous faces join the Meals on Wheels team too. As Arlene Phillips, Ann Widdecombe, Fiona Phillips and Antonio Carluccio, who each had a personal story behind their interest in Meals on Wheels got to hear more about the service. Each pledging to do what they can to help. Fantastically Arlene offered to spare a couple of hours to deliver meals herself, proving that anyone and everyone can help to deliver a difference.

pledge cards meals on wheels

Overall the series has been quite fantastic as Si and Dave’s genuine passion to make a change really has shone.  They’ve handled the difficult task incredibly well, proving exceptional results. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more great things about local Meals on Wheels service soon.

Watch The Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels on BBC Iplayer and for more infomration including how to volunteer click here.

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