Nov 14

Call Made For New Minister For Disabled Children & Families


The call has been issued for the appointment of a new minister for disabled children and families in order to ensure that those with disabled children can take advantage of more robust joined-up support.

Charity Scope has launched its Now Is The Time campaign, calling on the government to lead the way on this issue, with 41 per cent of those asked with a disabled child under the age of five saying that they weren’t offered any emotional support either during or after diagnosis.

Not only that but research also shows that just 25 per cent of adults believe parents with a disabled child can have the same aspirations for their children as parents of a non-disabled child.

The new minister would provide businesses, charities, organisations, disabled families and members of the public with a focal point inside government. It would also enable the prime minister to show just how committed her government is to disabled children, while optimising the effectiveness of policy implementation.

Director of policy at the charity Anna Bird said: “Parents of disabled children are being let down by a system and a society that is working against them not for them. This needs to change.”

Further research from Scope shows that 49 per cent of disabled working age adults feel excluded from society, while 41 per cent say they don’t feel valued. And 42 per cent admitted that they don’t believe the UK to be a good place for disabled people.

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Nov 01

AI Project Could Help Improve Care For Those With Mobility Issues


A project that plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care for people with mobility issues has been awarded £865,000 by Innovate UK.

Digital Health revealed that the consortium led by Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems (CBAS) is behind the programme, which intends to develop a machine learning system that’s able to analyse the movements of people who are at risk of falls or who have orthoses.

The aim is to monitor patients more closely and help healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of their needs, as well as to help them more accurately track the progress of their patients.

Patients involved in trials of the technology will be given wearable items that track their movements and the data gathered will be analysed by an AI platform.

The results from the trial will be validated by the Human Performance Lab at Queen Mary University of London. Dr Aleksandra Birn-Jeffery, lecturer in bioengineering at the institution, told the news provider that this represents an “exciting opportunity”.

“Not only is it an exciting opportunity to validate new technology that could make such a difference to patient care pathways, but we will be working alongside some incredible companies that are all striving to improve healthcare,” she asserted.

Dr Birn-Jeffery added that it could lead to a greater understanding of how orthotics patients progress following treatment.

In some instances, it could highlight how making adaptations to your home could improve your quality of life, such as fitting easy access showers.

Given that a recent survey by Which? found that the majority of people over 55 years old would be happy to make such adaptations to their properties, it could be valuable in improving many people’s quality of life.

Oct 29

More Work Needed To Adapt UK Homes For Elderly Residents


Just seven per cent of the UK’s homes meet basic accessibility needs, a new report has revealed.

Research conducted by the Centre for Ageing Better also pointed out that more than 90 per cent of people over the age of 65 live in mainstream housing, rather than specialist retirement properties, in the UK.

As a result, more needs to be done to make our homes suitable places to live as we age and mobility reduces, with the charity noting that “investment in adaptations is highly cost effective”.

Taking this approach is “helping to improve wellbeing, keep people out of hospital, prevent or delay moves into residential care, and reduce the need for carers”, the report added. To get the most benefit from home adaptations, installing them early on is essential.

Some of the key adaptations cited in the report include ones that allow people to move safely around their homes and reduce the risk of trips and falls, as well as those that enable them to look after their own personal care.

Adaptations falling under the latter category may include the likes of walk in baths, shower seats or easy access showers.

In addition to the benefits to people’s physical health, such home alterations can also improve people’s mental health by reducing the stress and anxiety associated with carrying out basic tasks in a home that’s not designed to support reduced mobility.

Earlier this year, Home Care reported that people with arthritis in particular are missing out on government funding to make home adaptations that could significantly improve their quality of life.

It cited findings from Arthritis Research UK, which revealed that as many as 80 per cent of arthritis sufferers are missing out on the support they’re eligible to receive because they don’t realise it’s available to them.

Oct 17

Passenger Assist App Launched By Network Rail


Network Rail has launched a new Passenger Assist app in partnership with four train companies – West Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, London Northeastern Railway and South Western Railway – designed to be more accessible and inclusive.

It’s intended to help make it easier for disabled people to travel, as well as less stressful and less likely to go wrong by allowing them to book help at stations. Accessible features like different text sizes and fonts, as well as colour themes, have also been included in the app.

Commenting, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group Robert Nisbet said: “We know we’ve got to do better to improve rail’s accessibility. We want everyone who has requested assistance to get the help they need, which is why we’re investing in this pioneering technology that has the needs of our customers at its heart.

“A few taps of the app will give customers more control, help our people do their jobs better, and deliver on the commitment in our long-term plan to enable more people to benefit from travelling by train.”

Writing for the Daily Express last month (September), 29-year-old journalist Hollie-Anne Brooks told of her own experiences of rail travel as someone with a disability. She explained that all over the UK passengers are left to face unhelpful staff members, “hellish” experiences of travel and missing ramps.

Greater Anglia even used her reserved disabled space for the coffee cart after its typical coach was left out of action. Ms Brooks went on to add that rail companies need to set out manifestos for disabled passengers to ensure they’re comfortable and safe.

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Sep 28

Do You Know What Exercises Can Ease Arthritis Symptoms?


If you suffer from arthritis you’ll know how painful and frustrating it can be. There are various types of arthritis, with different causes, but the most common in the UK is osteoarthritis.

This is caused by a gradual wearing down of the cartilage in the joints, the Express explained, and the newspaper noted that there are a number of different types of exercise you should be incorporating into your routine to help alleviate the symptoms.

Range-of-motion (ROM) exercises can be especially beneficial, as they can help ease joint stiffness. Stretching exercises are also important to help keep your joints and the rest of your body in good shape.

Ideally, you should hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and make sure you’re stretching at least three to five days a week.

The newspaper also highlighted the importance of strengthening exercises and aerobic exercise in your routine. When it comes to the latter, walking, aquatic exercises, cycling and aerobic dance were recommended.

However, there’s one form of exercise that many people forget about – body awareness exercises. According to the American College of Rheumatology, this includes “activities to improve posture, balance, joint position sense [proprioception], coordination and relaxation”.

Of course, you may also want to think about making simple adaptations to your home to enable you to live as independent a life as possible. This could include installing walk in baths in your home.

Earlier this year, Arthritis Research UK revealed that many people suffering from the condition in the UK are missing out on government help to make such adaptations. According to its research, 80 per cent of those who are eligible for this support are failing to claim it.

Sep 18

Old Age Safety Net ‘Dangerously Weak’


Older people in the UK are being put at risk because the safety net we expect to be there once we reach a certain age has become dangerously weak, a new report from Age UK has now warned.

Estimations from the charity show that there are almost half a million people over the age of 65 who need help with essential daily activities and are living with significant health conditions – but many of these are living alone and have no family or friends to look after or support them.

It went on to suggest that although we may assume that there are care professionals out there who will keep an eye on us when we’re older and still living at home, this is no longer a guarantee because there are now deficits within the country’s health and care services, and the two are fragmented.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams commented: “We need to build up all our community health and social care services once again, gradually fill the yawning workforce gaps in both health and care, and do more to support the family members who step in to ‘hold the ring’ of a system under huge pressure – often ageing partners with their own health problems.”

One way that family members can help their relatives now is to go around their house to see if there are any changes that could be made to ensure they can stay in their homes for longer and are safe while there.

It might be that you have a need for a walk in shower bath or something similar – and if making small adaptations to the property means your friend or relative is able to stay independent for longer, they’re certainly worth doing.

Sep 16

Have You Heard Of The Motability Scheme?


Those of you who’ve made the decision to renovate your home to adapt to your changing physical needs, such as by installing half height shower doors or similar, may also find that there comes a time when you need a bit of a helping hand outside the house as well.

Luckily, there’s a Motability Scheme now in operation that allows people to become more mobile by exchanging their mobility allowance for leasing a new scooter, car or powered wheelchair so they can get out and about with ease.

In order to be eligible for the scheme, you need to receive a specific mobility allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions and have at least one year’s award length remaining. The attendance allowance can’t be used to lease a car through this scheme, however.

Benefits of the initiative include the fact that you’re able to pick your choice of vehicle at a price that works for you from all the latest makes and models, as well as the fact that the deal is all-inclusive – so Motability will arrange the insurance, servicing, maintenance and breakdown assistance for you, all part of the price you pay.

More good news for those with mobility issues also recently came from the Department for Transport earlier this year, which is apparently planning to invest up to £300 million to make our travel network more disabled-friendly and more inclusive.

The plans include installing Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations, loos that are more accessible than regular disabled toilets and which boast features like adult-sized changing benches, tracking hoist systems, privacy screens and enough room for a disabled person and two carers.

Sep 11

Majority Of People Happy To Adapt Homes


It’s understandable that the majority of us want to stay in our own homes as we get older. Luckily, there is a range of modifications you can make should your mobility worsen as you age, and many people are happy to make these alterations if it means they don’t have to move.

A survey by Which? found that 92 per cent of people over 55 would be happy to make alterations to their homes, such as installing a stairlift, if this would allow them to continue living independently.

When you’re making these kinds of modifications to your property it’s important to think about how to make every part of your home as safe as possible.

Bathrooms are one space where slips and falls are more likely, so doing things like installing easy access showers or shower seats could be a good way to make the space safer and easier to use.

It isn’t only changing physical elements of a property that people over 55 are prepared to do. Over 80 per cent of those surveyed revealed they’d be happy to use a cleaner, gardener or handy person if it meant they could continue living independently.

The Which? survey also found that the majority of people aren’t saving money to pay for their care in later life. Just 12 per cent of the people who responded to the survey had set aside cash to help cover the cost of their care as they got older.

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Aug 13

How To Cope With Caregiver Fear


Have you heard of the term caregiver fear? It refers to the anxiety and worry a person can feel when they become a carer for a loved one.

According to Drugwatch, one of the most common ways in which it manifests is through the caregiver asking themselves a lot of ‘what if’ questions.

These questions can lead you down a stressful and frightening chain of thought, but the good news is that there are a number of things you can do to ease your worries.

The first stage is to write down all your fears, whatever they may be and regardless of how trivial you may think they are. Once you’ve done this, you can make the list smaller by deleting all the ones that are highly unlikely to happen.

Of the ones that remain, you should then start looking at how you can reduce these worries. Are you concerned about your loved one falling and hurting themselves at home, for example? One way to tackle this could be to carry out modifications on their home, such as installing easy access showers.

You could also explore providing in-home care and assistance to take some of the weight off your mind and ensure your loved one is getting the care they need at all times.

If you decide that renovations may be necessary, consider how you can future-proof them to ensure you don’t need to keep making updates.

In fact, future-proofing our homes is something we should all be thinking about, designer Kevin McCloud told the Express earlier this year.

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Jul 27

Arthritis Sufferers ‘Missing Out’ On Home Adaptations


If you’re suffering from something like arthritis, home adaptations such as bath lifts aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity.

The UK’s social care system does support a range of adaptations that can be carried out for arthritis sufferers, however, the majority of people haven’t been made aware of this, according to Home Care.

According to new research from Arthritis Research UK, as many as 80 per cent of those with arthritis who are eligible for support are missing out on this kind of helpful equipment – and with 17 million living in the UK with arthritis-related illnesses, it’s a significant chunk of people.

Morgan Vine, campaigns manager at Arthritis Research UK, said that of those that are aware, even fewer have been assessed and provided with equipment.

“We need both local authorities and central government to work with us to make sure their legal obligations are met – to improve people’s lives and to ease the pressure on our already strained social care system,” she said.

Of course, not everyone will be eligible to receive support such as this, or have the time to endure a lengthy wait for approval. If you’re not, it’s essential that you make the necessary changes at home that will mean you can stay safe and remain living independently for longer.