Nutrition for the elderly – what you need to know

Nutrition for the elderly – what you need to know

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As we age, our bodies’ nutritional needs change. However, change doesn’t have to be bad, nor does it have to mean surviving on soft, bland food or boiled cabbage!

Everycare Winchester know to how to provide the best care for you, but when it comes to nutrition, do you know how to best care for your own needs? To help you move and look as young as you feel, we’ve listed below the essential components for a healthy diet (and we promise there isn’t a boiled cabbage in sight!)

Variety is vital  

The more variety in your diet, the healthier your gut flora will be. The health of your gut is paramount to your overall wellbeing, affecting everything from memory and mood to immunity and skin.

A great way to ensure you’re consuming an array of nutrients is to ‘eat the rainbow’. Sadly, we’re not talking about eating endless amounts of Skittles, but a rainbow spectrum of fruit and vegetables. Every colour provides a different health benefit, like orange vegetables are packed full of vitamin A which is great for eye sight, and purple hues provide potent antioxidants that fight ageing free-radicals.

Don’t be afraid to try new foods. We’re sure by now you know exactly what you like and what you don’t, but you’re never too old to try something new. You never know, you might discover a new favourite!

Pass the salt

As we age, we become more sensitive to salt, so a lower sodium intake can benefit those with high blood pressure; reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Unfortunately, this may mean you need to pay extra attention to any packaged food you buy and the amount of salt you use to season your food. Most pre-packaged food already contains high levels of salts, so when you sprinkle on extra you’re likely to be consuming more than your recommended daily allowance of sodium, 2.4g sodium/ 6g of salt.

Tip: Swap standard table salt (which is processed to contain sodium and 0 minerals) for naturally occurring Himalayan pink salt (which contains 84 minerals including all 6 electrolytes our bodies require). Plus, Himalayan salt tastes saltier therefore less is needed!

Up your fibre

Digestive health can be an issue amongst older people with many suffering from constipation. One way to improve digestive and bowel health is to increase the amount of fibre in your diet.

Fibre can help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol, aid diabetics by balancing blood-sugar levels, lower the risk of certain cancers and slow the rate at which nutrients are broken down so you stay energised for longer.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, oats, whole grains, seeds like flax and chia and powders like psyllium husk are all great sources of fibre.

Eat omega 3’s

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA), so called because it is needed by the body but cannot be manufactured in the body; it must be obtained via diet.

EFA’s have been found to aid brain, heart, eye, joint and skin health. They prevent abnormal neuron function, reduce the risk of macular degeneration, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, decrease joint stiffness and inflammation, moisturise skin and reduce the risk of wound infection.

Foods rich in omega 3’s include: oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines), flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soy beans and spinach.

Supplement for strong bones

Many people are deficient in vitamin D and calcium, particularly amongst the older generation.

Older individuals tend to eat less, have limited diets and venture out less, therefore their bodies are receiving little calcium and vitamin D.  In addition, our bodies’ ability to absorb vitamins and minerals decreases with age too. For example, the skin of an elderly person produces 4× less vitamin D compared to a younger individual when exposed to sunlight for the same amount of time.

Both calcium and vitamin D are needed to maintain strong bones which are especially important for seniors who are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, as well as falling.

Our main source of vitamin D comes from sunshine, as only traces can be found in foods like mushrooms, egg yolks and oily fish. Calcium can be found in dairy, seeds, beans, lentils, leafy greens and fish with edible bones like sardines and canned salmon.

Unless you have retired abroad and are currently sunning yourself on a roof terrace, you ought to take a vitamin D supplement, especially during the months of October to March. Ideally, choose a supplement with both vitamin D and calcium for maximum vitamin/mineral absorption and strong bones.

Stay hydrated

Did you know dehydration is one of the biggest causes of hospitalisation in older adults?

The human body is composed of approximately 60% water. However, that water percentage decreases with age which means the risk of dehydration increases.

If your body is dehydrated it struggles to regulate temperature, transport nutrients around your body and lubricate joints. This will likely result in feeling cold, tired and achy.

Aim to drink 2 litres of water a day and ensure fluids are always readily available to you. Keep a bottle of water next to your bed or on your coffee table so it’s always near to hand!

A tipple & a treat

Good news, alcohol and chocolate are firmly on the menu.

Red wine and dark chocolate (70% cocoa +) both contain flavanols which can provide a myriad of health benefits. They can aid brain health by protecting neurons, help the brain’s ability to learn new information, improve memory and cognitive functioning, help blood circulation which regulates body temperature, reduces fatigue and reduces foot/hand swelling, so pass the wine (for a small glass every now and then!)

It’s important to note that portion control is required; 30 to 60g dark 70% cocoa and 175ml wine is enough to reap the benefits.

A final word

Food is not just fuel, it’s a way to nourish your body, ignite your taste buds and bring you joy. Be mindful of the ingredients you are putting into your body, but most of all, enjoy what you’re eating.  Life’s too short for overcooked cabbage and stodgy mush!

Could Poor Diet Be Causing Health Problems In The Elderly?

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Diet plays a significant factor in daily life for everyone, this is because dietary choices can have a huge impact on our overall health and well-being. As we age it becomes increasingly important to watch what we eat in order to ensure that we are getting all of the nutrients that we need as is a well known fact that the body changes as we age, and in order to maintain a healthy, independent lifestyle, and the best way of doing this is by ensuring you follow a balanced diet.

The symptoms of poor diet or malnutrition can be weight loss, disorientation, light headedness, lethargy and loss of appetite and be easily mistaken for illness or disease.

A previous study in the UK showed that over 70,000 people die in the UK each year due to poor diet and these people could have lived another 10 years. In the US a study showed that over 40% of people die due to lifestyle choices, diet being a big part of this.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet ensures that you stay healthy by providing you with all of the nutrients that your body needs, from all of the major food groups. These are fruit and vegetables (aim for five a day), fibre, dairy , protein , and small amounts of sugar can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.


It is important that as we age our fibre intake increases, and this is because the elderly are at greater risk of experiencing digestive problems such as constipation. Foods high in fibre include: bread, rice, breakfast cereals and pasta. The wholegrain varieties contain higher levels of fibre. Other sources of fibre include: potatoes, beans, lentils, peas, oats, fruit and vegetables. Fibre has been proven to have a number of health benefits including: preventing diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and some cancers.


Iron is key to ensuring the body stays healthy. Sources of iron include: red meat, although no more than 70g (cooked weight) a day, oily fish, eggs, and pulses have also been found to be good sources of iron. It is essential that adequate iron levels are maintained because iron deficiency can cause a number of health problems including: weakness, damaged immunity, and cognitive function.


Calcium rich foods and drinks play a key role in older individual’s diet. This is because Osteoporosis is a major health issue that impacts the elderly, especially women. Osteoporosis is where the bone density decreases and the risk of fractures increases. Calcium rich foods include: dairy products, canned fish with bones (e.g. sardines), soya beans, tofu, and green leafy vegetables.


Sodium levels can have a major impact on the health of an older individual, as high sodium levels can cause a number of health problems including: high blood pressure, heart disease, and confusion. The best way of avoiding a high sodium diet would be by not adding salt into meals. Checking food labels is also another useful way to ensure that you are not exceeding the recommended daily amount of salt.

Vitamins A and D

Vitamin D maintains healthy bones, as it can help to absorb calcium. Sources of vitamin D include: exposure to sunlight, eggs, oily fish, fortified cereals and spreads. It is important that elderly individuals get an adequate level of vitamin D in order to prevent conditions such as Osteoporosis. Vitamin A levels need to be monitored too much can increase the likelihood of bone fractures. Foods such as liver are high in vitamin A and shouldn’t be eaten more than once a week.

Lack of Appetite and Thirst

As we age it is likely that we will want to eat and drink less, or become less interested in food and drink. This is because as we age we generally become less active, meaning that we are burning fewer calories. Other reasons that older people may experience a loss of appetite include: poor mobility, as food preparation and shopping become difficult, and lack of interest. For example individual’s may have no interest in cooking and preparing meals, a method of ensuring that they eat would be to buy convenience foods such as tinned or microwaveable meals.

Home Care

Home care packages could be a beneficial way of ensuring that an elderly individual is receiving all of the nutrients that they need to maintain a balanced diet. This could be effective because a care worker would be able to visit the individual on a regular basis to assist with or to prepare meals for the individual. This would be beneficial because it ensures that they are eating an adequate amount of food and receiving all of the nutrients that they need in order to maintain a balanced diet. This type of home care package could also be beneficial because it could increase an individual’s interest in food, which in turn could increase their independence for longer.

Too Busy To See A Doctor? Live Too Far Away? Choose eHealth – The Online Doctor

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What is eHealth?

eHealth is the electronic management of an individual’s health information, which has been designed to improve upon some of the existing paper based systems. eHealth has been designed to increase efficiency within healthcare, and in turn this will help to decrease costs.

How eHealth Works

eHealth works by providing individual’s access to their medical records in an easy and convenient manner. This is done by allowing access to individual’s online. This can be extremely beneficial because it allows individuals the opportunity to see exactly what being kept within their medical records, and eHealth is available in a number of forms.
Electronic Health Records is a computerised method of storing an individual’s medical records, so that they can be passed between different medical professionals with ease. This is particularly beneficial because it could reduce the time in which it takes for professionals to diagnose a serious condition. It is a system that is also capable of being shared across different care settings. For example if an elderly individual who was living in a care home were to become ill their medical records can be passed between the nursing home in which they live and any medical professionals that deal with their case.
Telmedicine is where telecommunication and other computerised methods are used in order to provide an individual with health care at a distance. This can be extremely beneficial, particularly to those who live in rural areas. This is because it allows people who live to far away to receive health care without inconvenience.
Consumer Health Informatics is designed to help to bridge the gap between individuals and health resources. This allows individuals to remotely communicate with health professional. This again would be extremely beneficial for those who live in rural areas. This means that they will receive a much more effective and efficient service, without having to deal with any stress from having to travel long distances to receive care.

Could eHealth be beneficial to you?

eHealth can be extremely beneficial for individuals because it can be a more efficient manner of dealing with healthcare services. The time taken for health processes to be completed can be greatly reduced. An example of this would be the time that health professional needs to spend on data handling tasks is lessened, and this benefits individual’s because it means that doctors will have more time to spend dealing with the individual and finding ways of resolving problems.
Another benefit that eHealth would be cost. Using computerised methods for healthcare can greatly reduce the costs. This is largely because it can reduce the needs for travel, as consultations can be done online. It can also reduces the need for referring individual’s to specialists
Another benefit that eHealth can have for an individual is it can have a slightly less formal approach in terms of consultations in comparison to going into hospital or a doctors surgery and having a consultation face-to-face. This may be beneficial for some people because they may find visiting doctors in person too stressful. It also creates a similar atmosphere to house calls which can make the situation a bit more comfortable.

Disadvantages to eHealth

However there are a few disadvantages to eHealth. The main disadvantage of the eHealth system would be trust. This is because it will become increasingly difficult for both doctors and individuals to know if they can trust each other. For example individual’s may simply fake symptoms in order to get prescriptions, as it may be difficult to make accurate diagnoses. Alternatively individual’s may find it difficult to trust their doctors diagnoses because they may feel that it is impossible to diagnose an illness or ailment over the internet.
Another disadvantage of eHealth is individuals may be worried about their records being stolen. Even though the possibility of records being stolen is extremely low, there is still a minor possibility and this can be extremely worrying for some individuals.
Over time eHealth will be become common practice because health systems are under strain from the increasing number of elderly people and the increases in people with long term conditions. There will not be enough time for doctors to meet all the patients face-to-face because the doctor will need to more efficient in working on diagnosis.

Home Care Preferable to Hospital Care for the Elderly

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Working in Home Care in Hampshire we get to meet patients that have been discharged from the local NHS Hospital with mixed views on how they have been cared for.

Hospitals have been found by the CQC to be failing in delivering basic care in the areas of nutrition and dignity. It may only be 20 out of 100 that were not meeting standards, but 20% is a big failing when you are talking about basic needs. Worse still, is that 50% of hospitals gave cause for concern. On the plus side, 78% of hospitals accept the findings and this, we hope, will lead to improved care.

The report tells us that the inspections were just carried out on one day of the year and were only in two wards of a hospital. In addition the observations were made between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday. This concerns us because there was no observation of what happens in the night when supervision is likely to be less nor at weekends when staff shortages can be more acute. The report states that this is a cost issue, yet people working in care are expected to work unsocial hours for no extra pay, what exempts higher paid inspection staff from working the unsocial hours for the same pay? This is a poor excuse for not doing these unsocial hour checks.

Why is it that inspection routines still seem only able to work 9am to 4pm? Care happens 24 hours a day 365 days of the year any inspections should take this into account. It would have been helpful to ask some preliminary questions with patients on when the most problems were being encountered. Just concentrating on the day and just Lunch delivery has probably meant that some even bigger issues have been missed.

Another potential flaw in the inspections is that the question of dignity being observed was based mainly on asking patients, the elderly do not always complain especially when they think that by complaining they may be treated in a different way. We would have liked to have seen questions asked of the family and other visitors to see if they felt that dignity was being observed.

Subsequently the government have announced further visits to hospitals and care homes; we do hope that the times of visits are more varied this time.

While hospitals and care homes strive to give a good service they should be seen as the back stop. We believe that you are still better off remaining at home receiving home care and being more in control of your own privacy and dignity.

Future of Home Care

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The Dillnot Commission reports on Monday 4th July 2011 with, hopefully, recommendations on the future funding of care including Home Care (Care in the Community). The previous Labour government did nothing because the ageing population problem was not imminent and, unfortunately, governments tend not to want to deal with difficult issues when it could affect their votes!

The population of people 75 and over was 4.8 million in 2008, this is forecast to increase to 7.0 million by 2023 and 8.7 million by 2033 an 81% increase over 25 years. For people over 85 the population was 1.3 million in 2008 and is forecast to increase to 2.2 million by 2023 and 3.3 million by 2033 an 154% increase over 25 years. It is the people over 85 that are most likely to require care so the increases in numbers is alarming in terms of the cost of care to the nation.

The other way of looking at the population is the number of people available to support the elderly, the ratio of people of working age to those of pensionable age was 3.23 in 2008 dropping to 2.78 by 2033. More pensioners less people able to support them and this includes the effects of increasing the pension age to make people work longer.

As can be seen from the population information, there is a big Social Care funding issue going to hit the country. Action needs to be taken now to put a Social Care funding system in that will deal with this issue.

It is unfortunate that dealing with Social Care funding comes at a time when the government is trying to cut spending. Any increase in Social Care funding is going to be tricky to fund we are either going to have to pay ourselves for care directly or indirectly through increased taxation for the government to be able to pay the extra cost.

Social Care funding has the same problem as many government pensions where we are trying to pay out of current government spending rather than building funds that can be used to pay for the costs in the future.

I fear that the government will back away from taking the bull by the horns and putting a proper funding system in, because,  what is needed to be done is likely to hit the pocket of the individual at a time when we are all feeling the pinch. What makes matters worse is that the government, being in coalition, is even less likely to do something bold.

As a Care provider we believe that substantially more needs to be put into care funding because the number of care staff needed in the future will be much higher and to attract good people in to the sector would need pay rates to go up. We believe that care staff are undervalued and their role in society needs to get greater recognition.

We implore the government to be bold and not just kick all the recommendations of the Dillnot commission into the long grass.

We aim to run an excellent Home Care service in Winchester and the surrounding areas in Hampshire and want to support the Local Authority and the NHS in delivering first rate care to the people of Hampshire.


Home Care – Raising Stroke Awareness

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Often people who have strokes, after initial hospitalisation, are sent home with home care to rehabilitate but rather than ending up in this position it is best to be aware about how to prevent strokes.

There have been adverts on the television showing people what to look out for when a person is having a stroke. This campaign is about getting people who are suffering a stroke quicker medical treatment and letting the public know how important fast action is to reduce the impact of a stroke.

The latest thing to be aware of is the link between Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and strokes, if you suffer from AF then you need to consult your GP on how that affects your risk of getting a stroke and the preventative steps that can be taken.

AF affects about 750,000 people in the UK and accounts for about one in six strokes, but AF related strokes can be prevented because once your GP is aware of your situation he can give you the right medication.

AF’s most common symptom is a fast and irregular heartbeat. An irregular heartbeat is also known as an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia.

The symptoms of AF are:

  • Palpitations – this means you become aware of your heart. You may feel it beating in a fast and irregular way.
  • Dizziness.
  • Angina (chest pains) may develop. In particular, the pains tend to occur when you exert yourself, but may even occur when resting.
  • Breathlessness is often the first symptom that develops. It may occur all the time, but you may become breathless when you exert yourself, doing a bit of gardening or walking up the stairs.

To raise awareness the Stroke Association is running a campaign on AF, its link to strokes and the signs to watch out for. People are sometimes reluctant to talk to a GP about stroke risks but the message is that if you are concerned you must ask first, before it’s too late.

If you want more information on AF The Stroke Association have a free factsheet F26 Atrial fibrillation and stroke. The Stroke helpline is 0303 3033 100 and the factsheet is available for download from

Home Care Cuts

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As we approach the end of the financial year for Government organisations we are concerned over the future of funding for Social Care or Home Care.

The biggest cuts in Goverment spending are front loaded into fiscal year 2011/12 which means that the full impact of cuts is yet to hit. The local Government budget for 2011/12 have not been finalised yet so we have not heard what further pressure there will be on prices.

What concerns us as a service provider that in the rush to reduce costs the quality of care given is being forgotten. Decisions on what to spend and on what are now being taken by back office staff who are purely looking at the costs, front line staff are not being given control.

Central Government talked about wanting decisions on health spending beeing made by front line staff, those that are closest to the patient, but that is not what we are seeing on the ground when it comes to home care.

If service providers are continued to be squeezed on price then there will only be two choices, withdraw the service or cut wages to our staff. Cutting staff wages is not a sustainable business proposition because they are not highly paid in the first place and are suffering high rates of inflation at the moment, especially with regard to fuel which is essential for delivering care in people’s own homes.

It is hard to recruit good quality care staff because of the pay rates in the industry. Those staff that we have do a fantastic job for our clients and we do not want them to leave the industry because of problems brought on by circumstances beyond our control.

We understand that times are tough and that some sacrifices have to be made but just keeping prices the same with the inflation we are suffering at the moment is like a 5% price decrease. The increase in VAT hits home care providers because the services provided are exempt from VAT so no VAT paid on purchases can be reclaimed.

There is a disconnect between central goverment and local government, centrally there is a wish to protect health spending but locally managers are being given tough cost reduction targets so they target some of the big spending areas, which of course includes healthcare costs.

Francis Maude on Question Time said that Local Councils should cut out waste but then much to our dismay said that suppliers should be squeezed. Many Local Government suppliers are small busineses that cannot afford to be squeezed, these small businesses are those same ones that the Government want to be the engine room of the economy. Politicians should think through properly the consequences of what they are saying.

We hope as a business to do all we can to be agile and to help Local Government in the delivery of savings but it is not all about cost.

Breast Cancer Screening Essential For Those Over 50

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Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK. Just because you are older and maybe having Home Care or are in a Care Home it is never too late to be checking for the signs of breast cancer.

Here are facts from Cancer Research UK:

  • In 2007 in the UK almost 45,700 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, that is around 125 women a day.
  • 277 men in the UK were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
  • Female breast cancer incidence rates have increased by around 50% over the last twenty-five years.
  • In the last ten years, female breast cancer incidence rates in the UK have increased by 5%.
  • Important to note for older people is that 8 in 10 breast cancers are diagnosed in women aged 50 and over.
  • In the UK in 2007/2008 the NHS breast screening programme detected more than 16,000 cases of breast cancer.
  • It is estimated that the NHS  breast screening programme saves over 1,000 lives each year.

As with all cancers early detection is paramount in ensuring the best chance of survival from breast cancer. More women are surviving breast cancer than ever before; in the 1970s around 5 out of 10 women survived the disease beyond five years this is now increased to 8 out of 10 and in fact now more than three-quarters of women survive at least 10 years or more.

Modern medicine has brought cancer treatment forward in leaps and bounds with better detection, therapy, research, drugs and symptom management. As an individual you are in the best place to manage the monitoring of your breast because early detection is the best way to be cured.

How do you I check my breasts?

There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts and you should never feel embarrassed in anyway about looking after your own health. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. You can do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. There’s really no need to change your everyday routine. Just decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best.

Remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone.

The breast awareness 5-point code

1.      Know what is normal for you, you know your own body best.

2.      Know what changes to look and feel for (see list below).

3.      Look and feel on a regular basis.

4.      Report any changes to your GP without delay, better to be safe than sorry.

5.      Attend routine breast screening if you are aged 50 or over, obtain advice from your GP on the regularity of this. You should insist on more screening if you are at higher risk, see later on what causes breast cancer.

What changes to look and feel for

  • A change in size or shape of the breast.
  • A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange).
  • A lump or thickening that feels different to the rest of the tissue in your breast.
  • Redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple.
  • If your nipple becomes inverted (pulled in) or changes its shape or position.
  • A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.
  • Discharge (liquid) from one or both of your nipples.
  • Constant pain in your breast or armpit.

Sometimes your GP may ask you to come for a check outside of your menstrual cycle to rule out any hormonal changes.

Causes of Breast Cancer

  • Women with a mother, sister or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer have almost double the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer themselves.
  • Risk increases with the number of first-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer, but even so, eight of nine breast cancers occur in women without a family history of breast cancer.
  • Obesity increases risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by up to 30%.
  • Women currently using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have a 66% increased risk of breast cancer.
  • The risk of breast cancer in current users of oral contraceptives is increased by around a quarter.
  • Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer – as little as one alcoholic drink per day increases breast cancer risk by around 12%.
  • A more active lifestyle reduces breast cancer risk.

In conclusion

As with all things to do with cancer living a healthy lifestyle will always reduce your risks and being aware of changes in your own body will give a greater chance of an early life saving diagnosis.

Home Care – Cuts Already Coming

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The Government had promised to protect Health Care Services but of course there was no direct mention of Social Care, which includes Home Care for the elderly and other people with social needs. There is always talk of protecting front line services but the definition of front line services is never made clear.

There are announcements being made already about cuts to service, this is a worrying trend which directly affects the vulnerable people in our society.

Bolton Council has announced that the eligibility criteria would be changing for people in the future. This means that it will not affect people currently receiving services for the time being.

The Bolton Council are very sad that they are having to take away services for people with moderate needs. This trend has been happening for several years with many councils now only supplying services for those with severe needs.

Gareth Evans, chief officer for Age Concern in Bolton said he was “very concerned” about the level of the cutbacks. “These cutbacks follow reductions made in recent years. They are not cutbacks in isolation”.  He added “Clearly a very serious attempt is being made to protect the most vulnerable which is obviously heartening”.

Bolton Council are cutting the budgets for Adult and Children’s services by a total of £9.5million.

A second announcement has been made by West Sussex Council who are cutting £2.5million from its £28million budget for home care by reviewing contracts with more than 100 organisations.

The service which operates 24 hours a day every day of the year, provides care for the elderly and disabled as well as those recovering from operations or suffering from dementia.

Councillor Graham Tyler said “I would like to reassure residents that the quality and level of service will not be affected by these changes”.

As these services are people driven, savings in costs usually mean a reduction in the number of people or a reduction in the wages being paid, either way, it is difficult to see how the service will not be affected in some way.

It can be expected that there will be more announcements of cuts for the year commencing April 2011. If this drives people out of the Home Care market, where there is already a struggle to find enough carers, then this will not be good for the stated aim to treat more people in their own homes.

Everycare (Central Hants) offer Care in your own Home and want to support people in living longer and healthier lives.

By Mike Frizzell  Everycare (Central Hants) Ltd

UK Best for End-of-Life Care – More Care at Home Needed

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In many countries the end-of-life care is just not there. The Lien Foundation of Singapore commissioned a study to look at the end-of-life care services in 40 countries.

Old Age Person in Care Home
Being looked after in a Care setting

While “quality-of-life” is a common phrase, “quality-of-death” is considered far less. According to the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) while more than 100 million people are in need of hospice services only fewer than 8% actually receive it.

For us in the UK we are ranked number one for end-of-life services this arises from a good network of hospices, statutory involvement, public awareness, training for NHS staff and access to painkillers for patients.

Ranking second was Australia then New Zealand, the USA was ninth and India was bottom of the rankings.

The charity Help the Hospices said the UK’s ranking was down to the hard work of individual hospices.

To improve end-of-life care the system needs to build around bringing the care to the patient – preferably in their own homes – by providing support for family caregivers, care teams that can go to homes with emergency coverage, and strong integration of hospice care expertise to maximize quality of life for both patient and family. This means fewer resources for hospitals and nursing homes, and more resources for home and community-based care services.

For the first time in humanity, people over 65 will soon outnumber children under the age of five. We need to continue to improve the end-of-life care, much hospice care can – and is – given at home and by increasing the proportion of community and homecare options, hospice care can reduce costs associated with hospital stays and emergency admissions.

In the UK, despite the ranking, too many people still faced the end-of-life without specialist care and support. The ageing population in the UK and the improvement in medical care means more people are facing end-of-life with more complex issues. The UK system needs proper funding to ensure people can be properly looked after at the end of their lives.

Mike Frizzell Everycare Central Hants supplying care at home and supporting people to live independently.