How we treat the frail and vulnerable members of our society will define us as a nation. There are two stark alternatives. Abandon them, destroying their dignity and personhood, or see them as valued members of society, deserving of respect at the least, compassion at the most.
Carers of every kind are amongst the most important people in our society, but often overlooked when they need care themselves.
Whether you are an employed carer or a family member or friend who cares on an informal basis, you are indeed a precious resource and what is often called a ' key worker'. The future and happiness of the people you care for, lies in your hands. You often make their day. In doing so you are improving the quality of your own. Your health and happiness is just as important as their's. The two go to together. I hope to help you to discover just that.
There are important differences if you are a family member rather than an employed carer, but both of you have much the same need for information which will enable you to be a really competent carer. For most of my professional life I have worked with carers employed by agencies or those working in a residential or nursing home. My experience is that often such carers are given little training and even less support. This information is designed to give a basic understanding in extremely important issues.
Perhaps the main contribution you can make is to encourage those you care for to move in order to maintain their independence. This helps them retain their dignity, particularly in toileting. It is so degrading to have to wait for others to take you to the toilet. Independence depends on being able to stand up, walk a few steps and sit down again. By following a simple routine every day this independence is assured.
The word 'dementia' raises all kinds of thoughts and questions. It is a broad term covering different conditions and is associated with loss of memory, wandering, inability to follow requests and, for some, living in a world of their own. The Department of Health has drawn up a strategy for working with patients or family members with dementia. Encouraging progress has been made in caring for them. Read more about it.
The other major factor in the ageing process is the growing tendency to fall, increasing to 1 out of every 2 elderly people over the age of 80. Once again there is advice to follow and training in the ability to get fallers off the floor.
Nursing and residential homes working with a number of residents may find it helpful to get an idea of the independence level of their residents so as to target suitable intervention to prevent deterioration in mobility. It will enable managers to request needed support.
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Remember above all: Every one needs to be recognised, needed and embraced'