14 November 2018

5 Signs Your Loved One Might Need Some Extra Help

  • It's unsurprising that many elderly people who require care wish to remain in the comfort of their own homes. Living at home provides the security of a familiar setting and allows for the continuation of independence. However, most find it tricky to admit when they require a bit of additional help.

     It often falls on family members to identify when a loved one might need some extra assistance in the home. What are the signs you should be looking out for? 

    1. Unkempt appearance

     A change in appearance is sometimes due to an individual’s inability to care properly for themselves. Examples of this include difficulty showering regularly, brushing their hair, or washing their clothes due to mobility or balance issues. In some instances, it is not a lack of coordination that is the problem, but rather certain disorders like depression or the onset of dementia.

    2. An uncharacteristically untidy house

    We aren't all 'tidy people'. However, there's mess and there's mess. If you notice a drastic change in the state of your parents’ home, this could be cause for concern. If laundry is piling up and there are dirty dishes in the sink, it might be time to gently ask if they're coping.

    3. Declining general health

    Has your loved one missed several important doctor appointments due to the inability to remember the appointment? Have they forgotten to take their daily medication? Look for prescription bottles that are full or bottles that have not been refilled. You will similarly want to watch out for any conditions that have gotten noticeably worse over time. These ailments can range from minor cuts that look infected to a lingering cough or limp.

    4. Withdrawal from hobbies

    Is the family dog's walking routine being neglected? Has your father stopped going to church for the first time in his life?  If you notice that your loved one has withdrawn from their normal activities, you will want to determine the reason for it. In some cases, a withdrawal from favorite activities is caused by mobility issues. In other instances, it can be associated with depression or another illness. 

    5. Poor Nutrition

    While proper nutrition is important at all stages of life, it's crucial during later years. Poor nutrition often begins following the death of a spouse or partner, as preparing meals for one can seem like too much of a 'faff'. Common signs that your loved one may not be receiving the nutrition they need include weight gain or loss, an empty pantry or refrigerator, or general weakness and declining health. 

    If you have recently decided to pursue some extra help and would like to know more about the services we provide, contact your local branch. You're in the right place and we would love to help you. 

14 November 2018

The Benefits of Music in Dementia Care

  • Music is a universal language. According to Alzheimer’s UK, music accesses different parts of the brain than language. Music can be used to communicate or engage with someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, even if they no longer speak or respond to other people’s words. Manipulating music to unlock past memories and other cognitive capacities is a cherished principle of clinical neurology.

    Have you ever associated a song with a specific experience? Music and memory are often intertwined. Music ignites emotional memories. For example, a song at a wedding, or a tune you listened to during a difficult time in your life. We often use music to commemorate the lives of loved ones at funerals and wakes. It’s a part of everyday life.

    In this way, by pairing music with every day activities, patients can develop a rhythm that helps them to the recall the memory of that activity, improving cognitive ability over time. This is only one of the many ways music plays a part in music therapy for someone who has dementia.

    Other benefits associated with listening to music if you’re a person living with dementia include:

    • Music can be a useful way to change somebody’s mood, especially during personal care. For instance, if a person diagnosed with dementia resists your efforts to help them get dressed, playing soothing music or a favourite song can help lessen any distress.
    • Music helps people with dementia express feelings and ideas.
    • Music can help the person connect with others around them.
    • It can encourage social interaction and promotes activity in groups.
    • It can reduce social isolation.
    • It can facilitate physical exercise and dance or movement.

    There is evidence from scientific studies that listening to music lights up the brain in many places, reaching the parts that others can’t. The recent All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) showed the benefits of music.

    For more Insights, click here



music and dementia care
13 November 2018

Keep Antibiotics Working!

  • Public Health England have reinstated their ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign, to alert the public to the risks of antibiotic resistance, urging them to always take their doctor, nurse or healthcare professional’s advice on antibiotics. New data shows that over three million surgeries and cancer treatments may become life threatening without antibiotics.

    The threat of antibiotic resistance continues to grow. Bloodstream infections have increased and the report shows that antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections rose by an estimated 35% between 2013 and 2017.

    The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign aims to educate the public on the risks of antibiotic resistance. The campaign also provides effective self-care advice to help individuals and their families feel better if they are not prescribed antibiotics.

    Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director, Public Health England said:

    "Antibiotics are an essential part of modern medicine, keeping people safe from infection when they are at their most vulnerable. It’s concerning that, in the not too distant future, we may see more cancer patients, mothers who’ve had caesareans and patients who’ve had other surgery facing life-threatening situations if antibiotics fail to ward off infections.

    We need to preserve antibiotics for when we really need them and we are calling on the public to join us in tackling antibiotic resistance by listening to your GP, pharmacist or nurse’s advice and only taking antibiotics when necessary. Taking antibiotics just in case may seem like a harmless act, but it can have grave consequences for you and your family’s health in future."

    What can you do?

    As individuals, we can each play our part in slowing the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases.  To help prevent the spread you should;

    • Only use antibiotics that are prescribed by a healthcare professional such as your GP.
    • With the pressures of work, you may be tempted to demand antibiotics from your doctor to get over an illness quickly. Don’t. Coughs, earache and sore throats, will get better by themselves, and the overuse of antibiotics to treat such conditions means that the life-saving drugs may no longer work when they’re really needed. Your immune system can handle most common illnesses on its own, and most people don’t realise that antibiotics have no effect on viral infections.
    • You can prevent the spread of harmful infections by implementing good hygiene practices. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, practice safe sex, avoid contact with sick people if possible and ensure that your vaccinations are kept up to date.

    If you look back at history, you will find many instances of pandemics that have devastated entire civilisations and claimed millions of lives. From the Bubonic Plague to Spanish Flu, diseases that are currently treated with antibiotics could return with devastating effect.

     Next time you are feeling under the weather take a step back and think if you really need antibiotics from your GP.

13 November 2018

Five-Minute Neck Scan Could Predict Dementia Risk

  • New research suggests that a five-minute neck scan could be used to detect dementia around a decade prior to symptoms showing. The scan of blood vessels could become part of routine screening for people at risk of developing dementia, if it can be proven in further studies.

    Researchers said as the heart beats, it generates a pulse that travels around the body. Healthy, elastic vessels near the heart usually diminish the energy carried by this pulse by cushioning each heartbeat. This prevents the pulse from reaching delicate blood vessels elsewhere.

    The team of researchers analysed a group of more than 3,000 middle-aged volunteers who were given an ultrasound in 2002, which measured the intensity of the pulse travelling towards their brain. Over the next fifteen years, the participant’s memory and problem-solving ability was monitored.

    Participants with the highest intensity pulse (top 25%) at the beginning of the study were around 50% more likely to exhibit accelerated cognitive decline over the next decade compared to the rest of the participants. Cognitive decline is often one of the first signs of dementia, but not everyone who shows signs of cognitive decline will go on to develop dementia."What's good for the arteries is good for the brain," he added in summary of his findings. "Dementia is not an inevitable cause of aging. How you live your life... has a real impact on how quickly your condition can decline."

    This difference was present even after adjustments for possible confounding factors, such as age, body mass index, blood pressure and diabetes, and whether participants had other heart conditions.

    They now plan to use MRI scans to check if participants display structural and functional changes within the brain which may explain the differences in cognitive abilities. More research is needed to determine whether neck scans should become a part of routine testing for dementia.

    The research was led by University College London (UCL).

12 November 2018

What does a Healthcare Coordinator do?

  • Have you ever wondered what a Healthcare Coordinator does? Are you interested in applying for one of our roles, but unsure about exactly what it is you'll be doing? Our Social Media Champion for Scotland, Louise Donachie, tells us more about her role as a HCC... 

    "Every day is different when you're a HCC.

    We make service calls to our clients, understanding their needs and adding their booking requirements on the system for HCA, Nurses and Support Workers. We are also first point of contact for all incoming calls for our staff.

    We conduct interviews on a weekly basis and actively work through recruitment from web inquiry to first shift. Weekly Inductions for our New Staff to show them how to use our systems and give them the best start on their Newcross journey.

    As we are a quality driven organisation, the HCC role is essential to maintaining a high quality standard that involves ensuring all of staff are full trained and are registered with SSSC and are aware of their duties and responsibilities. We organise training and book training for our Carers and Nurses to provide new skills and knowledge which, in turn, strengthens our team. We monitor staff activity to ensure everyone can remain active and working and have weekly contact with all of our nurses and carers which involves supporting our cares through their SVQ courses and provide support for the assessors as well as organising the observations at the homes.

    Our branch is very much team-focused and quality-driven and we understand the importance of the wider team ethos and liaise with Recruitment, Finance, Clinical, training, Marketing& Purchasing regularly to ensure we provide the best service."

    Canterbury's Holly Covus tells us why she loves being a Healthcare Coordinator...

    "I love being a HCC because every day is not the same I get to speak to different clients and deal with various tasks each day. I love the client and staff engagement and it always makes it worthwhile when you receive positive feedback and also to know that you helped make a difference to service users and the care provided.

    I love the way I can progress within my role and put myself forward for new and exciting tasks as I know Newcross will help me with learning and development within my career path. I have been fortunate enough to visit clients and their homes and see what a difference a good level of care can provide and how it can change people’s quality of life this in its self makes me appreciate how I am part of that."

    'Caring for the Carer' - Bristol's Luke Rundle tells us more... 

    "HCCs are the front line of the company and are therefore the first people the carers both see and speak to. This enables us to form a good relationship and knowledge of each carer. These relationships - combined with our always being available via phone or email - enables us  to discuss not only work matters, but personal matters as well which is very important as carers have lives outside of Newcross which affects their availability and ability to work!

    We spot differences in work patterns and have the confidence to call them and just have a chat to find out whats going on and if Newcross can support in any way. This could be offering closer shifts because their car has broke down or changing them to night shifts for easier child care. We also provide practical help in the aspect of supporting them with any training they require or helping with visa applications etc.   

    We are there for all staff in whatever capacity they require us to be and we recognise that each carer is an individual and to respect their differences and to assist accordingly."

    Are you interested in joining us in one of our Healthcare Coordinator roles? Apply now! 


06 November 2018

HealthForceGo® for Beginners: A Guide

  • Ahhh technology. Many of us have a love/hate relationship with computer systems and apps, although ultimately, they're there to help us live, work and socialise as efficiently as possible. Our app for healthcare staff, HealthForceGo® is no exception to this rule.

    The central support teams are often met with cries of, "My app isn't working!" or "There are no shifts!" Never fear, there are steps you can take to get back on track.To help you out, here are a list of frequently asked questions and our advice on how to navigate your way around HealthForceGo®. 

    HealthForceGo - What is it?

    HealthForceGo is our mobile app, one that puts you firmly in control of your working life. 

    HealthForceGo - What devices and operating systems are supported?

    For Apple, we support back to iOS9 and an iPhone 4S. 

    For Android, we support any device which can run Android version 4.1 or above.

    HealthForceGo - How do I submit a digital timesheet?

    If you have been booked onto a shift and the shift is visible in the My Diary section of the app then the timesheet is available.

    Timesheets become visible to sign at the shift start time. After you have finished your shift you can choose to get your timesheet signed.

    1. Check the details of the shift are correct and claim any mileage or expenses (if paid by the client)

    2. Hand your device to the client so they can check the details before signing.

    3. The client signs the timesheet with their finger and adds their name. Once they press submit the timesheet is sent for verification, there is nothing else you need to do.


    HealthForceGo - What happens if there is no signal when I submit a timesheet?

    As long as you have logged into the app since being booked onto a shift and are not logged out, the timesheet will be available to sign on their app even when you don't have any signal. 

    After you have a timesheet signed and it's submitted, if there is no internet then the timesheet will be saved on the device and will be submitted automatically the next time you open the app and have an internet connection.

    HealthForceGo - How do I know if my timesheet has been verified?

    We now show the status of the timesheet in the app including if has been verified or if any exceptions have been raised that need to be manually verified by payroll. Payroll manually verify timesheet exceptions twice daily to ensure funds are available to withdraw via Flexi Pay

    HealthForceGo - I’m having trouble submitting my timesheet, I get an error message.

    1. Do not logout and do not delete the app
    2. Take note of the error message or take a screenshot and contact your branch or use the in-app feedback form to contact the development team

    HealthForceGo - Do I need to have my phone on/running/unlocked all the time?

    No, as long as you don't logout of the app, when you are ready to submit your timesheet you can open the app and the shift details will be available for you to check and the timesheet can be signed by the client and submitted.

    HealthForceGo - When will I get paid?

    As with paper timesheets, the cut-off for submitting digital timesheets is midday on Tuesday, however, timesheets are only processed for payment the following week for shifts that started before the Monday of that week. So if you submit a timesheet for a shift that started Monday or Tuesday, it will not be paid until the following payment run in two weeks time.

    HealthForceGo - I can’t change the break on my Shift?

    The break rules are defined by the client. If you were asked to work through a break then you can change the end time of the shift to match the break time you should have had and make this known in the 'Reason for change' when you change the end time. 

    The client will review this before submitting the timesheet.

    HealthForceGo - I can't edit mileage?

    Not at this stage, mileage is calculated automatically from your home address to the client address (and back). This allows for the timesheet submission process to work without any signal.

    Mileage can only be claimed where clients have indicated they will pay mileage.

    Not receiving any shifts from your branch or your app?

    This could be due to a number of things:

    The main factor here is that we show shifts with clients where you’ve worked before, staff and branch will need to work together to work with new clients so those shifts will show in the app in the future.

     Other factors:

    - Your availability: Is it as flexible as possible?

    - Your training: Are there any training courses you can go on to up skill yourself?

    - Travel: How far are you willing to travel for a shift?

    - Have you spoken to your branch to express your concerns?

    Your branch manager will always try their best to get you shifts, but if you are concerned the best option is to discuss these with your branch so you can work together to receive more shifts.

    Have you got a question that we've not addressed here? Leave it in a comment or Tweet us @NewcrossHealth 

06 November 2018

5 Flu Vaccine Myths you Should Ignore

  • Influenza virus survives better in colder, drier climates, or so the theory goes. It is at this time of year, when myths begin to emerge regarding the 'flu jab' - which has been made available to 24 million people in England this year, an additional 3 million compared to last winter. 

    The following myths are actually harmful, as they will leave you at greater risk of developing the condition this wintertime. Here are some of the big ones to ignore... 

    "Vitamin C can prevent flu"

    Many people think that taking daily vitamin C supplements will prevent  them getting flu, but there's little to no evidence to prove this. It is, of course, important to ensure you have an adequate amount of vitamin C in your system. Vitamin C fights blood pressure, encourages the production of white blood cells and helps the body to absorb iron. 

    "You can catch flu from the flu vaccine"

    This is probably the most common myth. However, rest assured, it's impossible. The flu vaccine cannot cause flu as there are no active viruses in the vaccine. 

    If you have what you think is flu after vaccination, it may be that you have caught a flu-like virus that isn't really flu, or you may have caught flu before your flu vaccination had taken effect.

    "Flu is like a heavy cold"

    This is simply untrue - ask anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have had flu. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, as well as a cough and sore throat. 

    You're likely to spend 2 or 3 days in bed. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and may end up in hospital.

    "You only need flu vaccine once"

    Unfortunately, not. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination that matches the new viruses each year. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of that year's flu season

    "If you are pregnant you shouldn't have the flu vaccine"

    Being pregnant is more of a reason to have the vaccine. If you're pregnant, you could get very ill if you get flu, which could also be bad for your baby.

    By having the vaccine, you can also protect your baby against flu after they're born and during the early months of life.

    Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: "Our free vaccination programme is world-leading and we constantly review the latest evidence - that's why from next season we are prioritising new and existing vaccines we know offer the best protection."

    All Newcross Healthcare caregivers and nurses are eligible to receive the flu vaccine. This is to ensure you are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications. Contact your GP for more information.

    For more Insights, click here. 

05 November 2018

How to Boost Winter Wellness

  • Do the fluctuating seasons leave you feeling under the weather? Don't worry, you aren't alone. Many of us can end up somewhat out of kilter in the colder months as we head towards winter.

    We've been looking at some common winter ailments, and how to cure them, so you don't have to!  

    The problem: Achy joints

    During winter, when the ­weather is cold and damp, studies show a lot of the population is low on vitamin D, which can also cause achy joints.

    The solution?

    Be active every day. Regular moderate exercise stimulates muscles, bones and the cartilage around the joints, keeping them mobile and healthy. Make sure you get a sufficient amount of vitamin D, too.  

    The problem: "I'm constantly cold!"

    While germs make you sick, not cold weather itself, no one likes feeling cold.  When the weather is cold, it's easy to put off socialising or getting out the house. Loneliness has a devastating and life-threatening impact on people of all ages. For vulnerable groups, social isolation combined with the health dangers of colder weather is a lethal combination.

    The solution?

    Wrap up warm and head out for a wintery walk with a friend, or meet up for a hot cup of tea or coffee. Don't miss out becuase of the weather. 

    The problem? Flu season

    Everyone knows that winter is flu season, but exactly why this virus tends to hit harder from November to March is often debated. 

    The solution?

    Get the flu vaccine! It's free to anyone aged 65 or over, pregnant women, carers and certain medical condition sufferers. Unlike cold viruses, flu viruses spread through the air. Take regular exercise, rest a lot and ensure you eat well to maintain good health and avoid the dreaded flu. 

    The problem: Icy falls

    Slips and falls in icy conditions are a common problem. But there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of getting hurt.

    The solution?

    Avoid rushing or taking shortcuts over areas where snow or ice removal is incomplete and keep both hands free for balance, rather than in your pockets.

    The problem: Eczema and other skin conditions

    Moisturisers are essential whatever the time of year, but in winter you may need to apply them even more frequently — especially before venturing outside on a cold day.

    The solution? 

    You may also find that you need a “heavier duty” moisturizer — an ointment rather than a cream — in the winter months. Ask your local pharmacist for their advice on what will work best for you.

    The problem: Neuropathy

    Neuropathy is a disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness.A s blood flow is reduced, nerve pain can greatly intensify. 

    The solution? 

    Wear a hat and scarf. Use a hot water bottle. Don't smoke! Blood circulation to the arms and legs slows down when you smoke. 

    Can you think of any others we've missed? Tweet us @NewcrossHealth and let us know!

    Woman Standing While Holding Her Jacket

05 November 2018

Remember, remember: Our Fireworks Safety Advice

  • In the UK, the 5th November is commonly associated with the history of Guy Fawkes, local bonfires and elaborate firework displays. However, the night is also infamous for witnessing a spike in often-avoidable injuries. According to NHS statistics, NHS A&E services attended 4,436 firework injuries in 2017/18.

    So whether you're hosting your own fireworks party in the garden, or attending a public display; to be on the safe side, we've compiled a list of 'top tips' on how to minimise risk in the presence of fireworks...

    What to buy

    There are all different kinds of fireworks, and each type falls into a different category. Members of the public can buy and set off most of the fireworks that come under Categories 1 to 3.  Always read the packet carefully and make sure that the fireworks you buy are suitable for the place where you are going to set them off.

    Where to buy

    Always buy fireworks from a reputable shop to make sure that they conform to British Standards. This means that they should have BS 7114 written on the box. 

    Definitely don’t buy fireworks from the back of a van or from a temporary, unlicensed market stall.

    Sparkler safely

    Did you know? Three sparklers burning simultaneously produce the same heat as a blowtorch.

    They are not toys and should never be given to a child under the age of five. Never run with sparklers. 

    Never throw fireworks (including sparklers). 

    It is illegal to do so (you could be fined up to £5000).

    Stand well back from fireworks, away from the direction it’s facing. 

    Safe spectator distances are usually recommended on the fireworks. If you're at a public display, stay in the recommended areas as instructed by safety attendants. 

    When possible, attend public displays 

    We'd recommend leaving it to the professionals. You'll be further away from the most dangerous parts of the night, Why not relax and enjoy the spectacle?

    Put it out!

    Always pour water on the embers before leaving the bonfire at the end of the bonfire party. Put sparklers into a bucket of sand or water after use.

    And finally, enjoy your evening!

    Like everything, fireworks involve an element of risk. However,by following the above tips, you can enjoy the holiday responsibly. 

    For more Insights, click here. 



01 November 2018

Barnstaple Branch Undergo Specialist Mental Health Training

  • Providing mental health training in a healthcare setting serves a variety of functions. It not only equips healthcare staff to directly change the experience of people affected by poor mental health, it also helps to reduce stigma and raise awareness.

    Our Barnstaple-based Social Media Champion, Charlotte Fisher, recently told us about a series of mental health training courses carers in her branch had been getting involved with.

    "We have had some fantastic new training running in branch focusing on Mental Health - Personality Disorders, Self Harm and Ligature Awareness last week and this week. 

    These courses have been extremely helpful for our staff to support our clients' needs. Our client requested their own staff to attend these courses also and really appreciated us setting them up. This training will help support our clients and give our carers more knowledge and increasing their skill set and confidence.

    I think it is hugely important to have a more educated understanding on mental health. We support several settings with service users with mental health, for our carers to gain this specialist training that suits the needs of our client is so vital.

    We had eight Newcross carers attend the courses and five of our client's carers. After talking to the trainer myself it was very interesting to hear about the training the staff received.

    They were shown what a service user might use as a ligature and how to use ligature cutters safely.

    The training was fantastic, all of the carers said it was engaging and informative. We are already looking to re-book all three courses, I would definitely recommend these courses.

    Newcross provides great training, whenever we have requested courses they are booked very quickly. There is always plenty of training for the carers to attend, both internally and externally.

    To be able to book specialist training to support our own staff and our clients staff is great, our client greatly appreciated us organising these courses."

    One of the carers on the course told us what she learned. 

    When learning about personality disorders, it is important to remember that everyone can look the same on the outside but you never know what is going on inside.

    The Self Harm course told me that it is so important to get a full understanding as to what has lead them to self harm - there is nearly always a deep rooted reason why!

    As for Ligature Awareness, I learnt that it is important to cut them down and to never hold them. All three courses were really useful!

    *An external training provider was booked specifically, so that our staff are prepared to meet the individual needs of those for whom we care.* 

    To explore the training opportunities we provide, click here.