Category: Guest Blog

Parkland House Poets present ‘This is your home’

Parkland House Poets present ‘This is your home’

Following the success of their Christmas and Easter message, the Parkland House poets have surprised us again with another touching poem reflecting the removal of wearing a uniform in the care home.

This is your home, and we’d like to welcome you,

We’ll open our arms and guide you,

Now this is your home, we’ll help you to embrace,

We’ll ensure you have your own space.

 

We are all here together to share the day,

We will help the bad days fade away,

Nothing is more important than wearing a smile,

To provide that extra mile.

 

Uniforms we used were once adorned,

Now we have been reformed.

No longer do we wear the barrier that separates us,

Wearing our smiles and our individuality is a must.

 

Now the uniforms have gone,

As carers we feel re-born,

We can unite as one,

As the uniforms are done.

 

Uniforms say to dementia you are ill and different from me,

Now our own clothing says we are a part of your family,

Everyone likes our bright colours we wear,

It makes them smile, comment and stare.

 

The uniforms gave a clinical air,

Now our clothing says we are fair,

We still approach with respect and care,

We are a part of the family that’s always there.

By Rhianne, Bekki, Lyn, Ann

Quote – “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”

Nelson Mandela.

Guest Blog: Charlotte Willis shares her passion for #NationalDonorDay

Guest Blog: Charlotte Willis shares her passion for #NationalDonorDay

I’d like to introduce myself: my name is Charlotte. I’m 39 years old and I live in London. I’ve also lived in other cities too: Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Sydney, but my home, and my family and friends, are in the UK. I enjoy my job working in technology in Finance, and have worked hard to build a successful career after I finished university. Outside of work, I like to go to the theatre, see live music, watch movies (especially outdoor ones on summer evenings), and go for walks in the countryside at the weekend.

I enjoy doing ‘adventure’ sports too: skiing, surfing, and I used to trampoline competitively (at amateur level) until a few years ago. Last year I also sailed a quarter of the way around the world, crewing a 70ft ocean racing yacht as part of a global yacht race. I’ve run the London Marathon and completed the London Triathlon. I like to travel too, explore new countries and cultures, and count countries as I go – I’m up to 52!

I am a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Ambassador and spent some time last year volunteering at a ‘code club’ teaching kids how to code computers. I try and find time to volunteer through my work too to encourage the next generation, especially girls, to consider technology as a career, and to recognise that not all technology jobs have to be ‘geeky’!

I’m very close to my parents and siblings and am enjoying seeing my 1-year old twin neices get more and more mischievous as they get older!

Oh and I’ve also had two kidney transplants. My kidneys failed unexpectedly and out of the blue when I was 12 years old and mine and my family’s lives were turned upside down overnight. A month later, a family unbeknownst to me lost their son in a car accident and they made the incredibly brave decision to donate his organs for transplant – I was the lucky recipient of one of his kidneys. Their selfless act meant that rather than being resigned to a continual whirlwind of hospitals, what-if conversations, medications, and operations, my life and importantly the lives of my parents and my siblings and all those close to us straightened out and returned to normal. A slightly new version of normal – I still take a small collection of pills twice a day – but I went home, I went back to school, my parents started to breathe a little more easily, and I got to live. And that’s an abiding part of the way I choose to live my life to this day; someone else made a decision that allowed me to carry on living when their son couldn’t and I am grateful for that every single day. Their son’s kidney graduated university with me, travelled the Trans-Siberian railway with me, ran the London Marathon with me. Through the anonymity of organ donation (the choice is up to the donor’s family) they have been such a huge part of my life and yet I have no idea who they are. I can’t change their story but they’ve changed mine and I take that responsibility seriously.

Transplanted organs don’t live forever yet (medical science is still working on that one) and in my late 20s, my donated kidney got too tired to keep me going at the level needed. Unlike the overnight bombshell the first time around though, this time we had time to plan and make choices, and in collaboration with the doctors, it was decided that my Dad would donate a kidney to me. He was 65 years old at the time but after passing all the medical tests, he had one kidney removed via keyhole surgery and it was transplanted into me, right next to my first donated kidney. It’s not uncommon for first transplants to be left where they are and mine still chugs away, doing what kidneys do, supporting my Dad’s kidney. So whilst it may have needed some extra help, it remains an important part of me. My Dad’s age and therefore the age of my second donated kidney isn’t an issue either – his kidney completed the London Triathlon with me, climbed the highest mountain in Borneo with me, and sailed 10,000 nautical miles with me across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Ten years down the line, both my Dad and I are fit and healthy, and life for us and our family has again carried on as it should. I turn 40 next year and I’m already planning how to mark the occasion! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my two kidneys donated by selfless, brave, and very special people. That car accident in 1990 that took one family’s son gave me, and everyone close to me, an opportunity to carry on living. Organ donation is a personal issue and one you will most likely have a view on, but I hope that my story also gives you a view of how ordinary people are leading ordinary lives, only made possible by extraordinary decisions. Make the extraordinary decisions in your life as they might save someone else’s.

Guest Blog: Founder of EDAA, Gina Awad, shares the importance of Reflexology in care homes.

Guest Blog: Founder of EDAA, Gina Awad, shares the importance of Reflexology in care homes.

When asked the question “What do you do ?” I often hesitate as I wear many hats, but today I’d like to share the part of my life that embraces reflexology and the power of gentle touch for those living with dementia.

“Reflexology is a holistic complementary therapy based on the principle that there are areas and points on the feet and hands that map via the nervous system to corresponding parts of the body. When pressure is applied to these areas and points it stimulates the movement of energy along the nerve channels, and helps to restore homeostasis (balance) in the whole body (Association of Reflexologists)”.

I offer treatments in Care Homes which, I feel privileged to attend, and it enables me to connect with people on a one to one basis in their space. What is really special is being able to ‘be with’ the person where they are in those moments. They may sit in silence and enjoy relaxing, they may reminisce about times gone by or there may be moments of intense felt emotion, which can offer catharsis.

I regularly meet families who feel a sense of guilt having promised their loved ones they would spend their twilight years living in their own home. Sadly for reasons beyond their control this is often not the case.

A recent experience taught me the value of a quality connection. I was invited to visit a resident named Ted who has been living with Vascular dementia since 2013. I had never met Ted before and he had agreed to a reflexology treatment. I was primed and aware this could feel unexpected on the day as his memory was fading. When I arrived he was having his lunch and suggested I join him with a coffee. I sat down and as he enjoyed the remainder of his lunch he chatted away to me as if we had known each other for years. Other than a few details I knew very little about Ted’s life and yet he appeared totally at one in my presence.

Within in half an hour, having achieved a real sense of connection we strolled to his room. He settled into his comfy chair and I was able to soak his feet, gently massaging them using reflexology techniques. This exchange was not about the depth of the treatment but the essence of our connection.

What took priority was the desire for this wonderful man to sit comfortably in his chair. As he began to share stories of his younger days, his eyes sparkled with sheer contentment, which illuminated his room. There were confusing times for Ted accompanied by moments of pure clarity. What he longed for was for me to listen with intent allowing him to express exactly what he treasured.

Amidst his reflections his eyes closed gently and tears began to slowly roll down his cheeks accompanied by a soft, sweet smile. I felt humbled, beyond belief, to witness those moments where a human being appeared to experience such a profound sense of inner peace. As he opened his eyes he quietly looked up at me with his soft smile and said “thank you, thank you so much for listening to me and being so kind, I love going back”.

As a result of my first visit I have since been invited twice more, each time an absolute delight. I look forward to more visits over the coming months.

I cannot emphasise enough how essential it is to be adaptable when ‘being with’ people living with dementia and meet them where they are, this example is not to be underestimated.

Considering Reflexology for people with dementia..

There are a number of stages of dementia and some clients may be uncommunicative whilst others will be articulate, lively, receptive and conscious that their cognitive faculties are beginning to decline. Dementia can take many forms but all have the potential to respond pleasingly to therapeutic touch.

The following areas and systems will be considered when providing reflexology.

Working the big toes/fingers to stimulate head/brain;
Working the digestive system;
Working the respiratory system;
Techniques and reflex points to reduce anxiety.

I trained as a Counsellor 15 years ago but have always felt empathy and listening inherent to me, both the spoken and unspoken word. Coupled with my reflexology skills and passion for dementia I feel I have much to offer as a therapist.

gina-awad-reflexology

To contact me if you’d be interested in a visit to your family member in the Exeter area email me at: ginasfreespirit@yahoo.co.uk

Gina Awad founded and leads the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance and is aspiring to raise
awareness across Exeter valuing the need for a Dementia Friendly Community that understands and respects people living with dementia and their families. She has recently been honoured at the Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Friendly Awards with the accolade of Dementia Champion of the Year 2016
http://www.theexeterdaily.co.uk/news/business-daily-local-news/exeters-gina-awad-recognisednational-dementia-friendly-awards-2016

Guest Blog: Applying Danish Hygge to British Social Care

Guest Blog: Applying Danish Hygge to British Social Care

This week’s blog comes from Jane Brightman (Kellas), Project Manager SLQA at Skills for Care.

Over the festive period I indulged in watching a few episodes of Paul Hollywood’s City Bakes (and a few too many chocolates, but that is a matter for a different post). In one episode he was in Denmark and talked a lot about ‘hygge’. I have heard this word before so it peaked my interest to look further into what it means…and maybe learn how to pronounce it properly.

It is said that the Dane’s created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold and the dark. However, apparently hygge didn’t originate in the Danish language but in Norwegian, where it meant something like ‘well-being’. It first appeared in Danish writing around the end of the 18th Century and the Danes have embraced it ever since. One good thing about hygge is that you can apply it anywhere and Danes allocate it generously to everything commonplace.

It has become a bit of a craze over here now with the word joining ‘Brexit’ and ‘Trumpism’ as some of Collins English Dictionary words of the year 2016. With at least nine books about hygge published last year, it seems we Brits are embracing it whole-heartedly.

So, what actually is hygge and how on earth do we pronounce it? ‘Hue-gah’ or ‘hoo-gah’ are the suggested phonetic pronunciations. I have been practicing but am definitely not doing it justice. The word essentially describes a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, everyday moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s brewing tea in china cups, having a cosy evening in with friends, the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal or putting fresh flowers on your table. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special. The Danes use hygge to help them see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not every drudgery to get away from. They say it is about being present enough to recognise and acknowledge an act, moment or feeling when the ordinary feels extraordinary.

While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, contentedness, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simplicity.

So now to the subject of my article, how can we apply this to our social care delivery? I think you can see where I am going with this. As the deliverers of care we need to support the people we care for to express and find their own hygge, but how?

In researching I have discovered that a lot of people express the things that bring them this feeling through boards on Pinterest (if you are a Pinner go and have a look). Actually people are doing it without realising that it is hygge. They are expressing the things that make them happy, contented, comfortable – that give them a sense of well-being. My own sparse Pinterest account is mostly chocolate, coffee, dogs and garden based; my hygge. If I needed care tomorrow and couldn’t easily express my hygge, someone could easily see it from my Pinterest boards. I’m not suggesting that we set up Pinterest boards for everyone we support…or am I? Well actually, why not? If it is too technical why not create a physical board using cut out images and photos. Family members and friends could help too.

When I spend time with care leaders I all too often hear about frustrations of staff not reading or understanding care plans. Nine times out of ten that is because they are difficult to read and understand but again, the subject for a different post. I think that care staff would instantly get an understanding of a person from their Pinterest boards (or hygge board). Care information can be complex and confusing. The use of visuals can help break through barriers of literacy, intelligence, and culture to provide information that everyone can understand in a single glance. Research indicates that people process visuals 60,000 times quicker than text. Images allow you to literally show care staff the information in a format they can easily understand.

Of course, once we know this information and have communicated it to care staff, we need to act on bringing it to life for the people we support. Maybe something a Key Worker could do? Or maybe you could introduce the idea to your teams by asking them to create their own hygge board first?

Cornerways couple celebrate 71st Wedding Anniversary in style

Cornerways couple celebrate 71st Wedding Anniversary in style

Our first guest blog of the year comes from Peninsula Care Homes Business Manager, Dianne Gregory, who met with Cornerways resident couple celebrating their 71st Wedding Anniversary. Dianne shares her blog with us:

We were privileged at Cornerways recently to share in the celebrations of residents John and Cicely Balson who boast 71 years of marriage! After a bit of research I was unable to find the recognised symbol of 71 years, with 60 years being an expensive Diamond and 70 years being more expensive Platinum, I decided that 71 years must just be put down to ‘true love’

I met with both John and Cicely to find out a bit more…

John, originally from Bristol commenced in the army as a mechanical engineer but after a serious accident and with severe burns to his legs he was hospitalised for a year and asked to leave the army. Sheer determination from his mother pleading with the army to take him back enabled John to continue his career.

Cicely formerly from Scartho, Grimsby also joined the army as a shorthand typist.

They first met at Buntingford Barracks, Hertfordshire. John was 20 years old and Cicely 19 years, they were married in December 1945 in Cicelys local church in Scartho, a reception followed at the parish hall. As the war had only recently ended, food remained rationed but Cicelys mother produced a beautiful spread for all 100 guests.

With both John and Cicely in the army they were fortunate to travel to many Countries including Korea, Hong Kong, Malta and Germany to name a few.

They have a son, Mervyn and daughter, Patricia, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

They moved to Paignton following retirement and to be nearer to their son.

They are quite rightly proud of all the service medals they have received and remember fondly meeting members of the Royal Family.

army-medals

I asked the secret of a long and happy marriage, and Cicely said “we’ve always helped each other and never rowed” John smiled in agreement… She went on to say, that they always worked hard, and she would often do additional shorthand work in the evenings, she said they both had a very good work ethic.

Guest Blog: Why have we started painting our doors?

Guest Blog: Why have we started painting our doors?

Peninsula Care Homes Care Manager, Margaret Haxton, reveals why we have decided to start painting our doors.

DOOR: a movable barrier used to open and close the entrance to a building, room, cupboard, or vehicle, usually a solid panel, hinged to or sliding in a frame.
SYNONYMS: portal, opening, hatch, entrance, entry, exit, egress.

iconic-doors-blog
10 Downing Street: The door to democratic leadership

You may notice that we have started to paint internal doors in some of our homes. We were initially inspired to paint shared bathroom doors a different colour as research suggests this will assist residents in identifying the bathroom.

More recently we have commenced a programme of painting front doors. Peninsula Care Homes see our resident’s doors as the entrance to their individual lifestyles. Where possible residents are able to choose the shade of their front door from a range of colours. Benefits include helping residents find their own room and allows each resident to individualise the entrance to their room.

A relative who spoke on behalf of her mother was delighted that her mother was able to choose the colour of her new “Front Door” and as a team we had succeeded in providing personalised care.

Peninsula take pride in meeting all our resident’s needs in all aspects of their social and healthcare requirements, by adding small changes like ‘doors’ we also support residents in environment choices too. We are really pleased with the colourful results and hope you are too…

When we care for others we must open the door to our hearts, and never let the Key get rusty, if it does, lubricate it liberally with the Six C’s of Care:

Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage, Commitment

Last Night of the Proms

Last Night of the Proms

A guest blog by Dianne Gregory, Business Manager, for Peninsula Care Homes Ltd.

My grandmother (91yrs), a retired teacher always comments that when it’s ‘The Last Night of the Proms’ it’s back to school and the start of darker evenings…

She is a lover of classical music, but maintains that the ‘Last Night’ is not necessarily the best night for classical music enthusiasts and more a performance of fun and patriotism.  Whilst chatting I said one of my favourite pieces was Adagio for Strings, a powerful piece of music by Samuel Barber, she screwed up her nose and said ‘sentimental’ and ‘sad’…

This generated a long conversation about music and memories, I had remarked that Adagio for Strings reminds me of Remembrance Sunday and the film ‘Platoon’ and perhaps that’s why it has such sentimental vibes.  She said the most sentimental tune for her was ‘And the Merry Go Round Broke Down’ more commonly known as the original theme tune to Looney Tunes, I was astonished and asked why?  She explained that she would listen to my grandfather and his friends whistling this tune in the streets whilst waiting to be ‘called up’ (circa 1939)

Wow! (with a lump in my throat) it really is quite remarkable how music provokes such strong memories, and, that our minds can store this information, even after 72 years.

For people living with a dementia, music is an excellent way of reaching beyond the disease, ask someone close to recall a musical memory – you may be surprised at the answer!