Author Archives: Steve McNulty

10 tips to make your New Year’s resolution a success from NHS Choices

By on 01 05, 2015 in ActivitiesResolution

Most of us will make a New Year’s resolution – maybe to lose weight, quit smoking or drink less – but only one in 10 of us will achieve our goal.

Psychologists have found we’re more likely to succeed if we break our resolution into smaller goals that are specific, measurable and time-based.

Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, tracked 5,000 people as they attempted to achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

His team found that those who failed tended not to have a plan, which made their resolution soon feel like a mountain to climb.

Some focused too much on the downside of not achieveing their goal, adopted role models, fantasised about their goal or relied on will power alone.

“Many of these ideas are frequently recommended by self-help experts but our results suggest that they simply don’t work,” says Prof Wiseman.

“If you are trying to lose weight, it’s not enough to stick a picture of a model on your fridge or fantasise about being slimmer.”

He said the 10% of participants in the study who had achieved their target broke their goal into smaller goals and felt a sense of achievement when they achieved these.

“Many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it,” says Prof Wiseman.

Top 10 goal-setting tips

Prof Wiseman’s top 10 tips to achieving your New Year’s resolution:

1. Make only one resolution. Your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.

2. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to think about your resolution and instead take some time out a few days before and reflect upon what you really want to achieve.

3. Avoid previous resolutions. Deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.

4. Don’t run with the crowd and go with the usual resolutions. Instead think about what you really want out of life.

5. Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable and time-based.

6. Tell your friends and family about your goals. You’re more likely to get support and want to avoid failure.

7. Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals by creating a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim.

8. Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal, thus maintaining motivation and a sense of progress.

9. Make your plans and progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal, completing a computer spreadsheet or covering a notice board with graphs or pictures.

10. Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.

Getting started

Below are some of the most common New Year health resolutions, with links to help you get started and achieve your goal.

Lose Weight
Get practical tips to lose excess weight, including getting started, healthy food swaps, and see our 12-week weight loss plan.

Quit Smoking
We’ve got all you need to help you achieve your goal to stop smoking, including ordering a free Quit Kit, getting support and tracking your progress.

Get active
Boost your fitness with fun and practical ideas to help you get into shape, including Couch to 5K, Strength and Flex and our 12-week fitness plan.

Drink less alcohol
Calculate your units, get tips on cutting down, track your drinking and find out where to get help and support.

Eat more fruit and veg
Whether you’re cooking for a family or eating on the go, our tips and recipes can help you get your 5 A DAY.

See the full article here

Acts of Kindness

The festive period is a time when we are encouraged to think about those near to us who may need a little extra support, those who struggle to heat their homes, those who do not see anyone, those who struggle to feed themselves and their family. It is put on our hearts to help those less fortunate with Act of Kindness.

This got me to thinking about acts of kindness that could we could practise throughout the year. With 2015 just around the corner, people will be setting New Year’s resolutions to get fit, lose weight, eat less, spend less, give more…. can we perhaps include in these resolutions some specific acts of kindness for those in the community who are lonely and isolated? This sounds daunting, and with our lives already so busy, can we really spare the time and effort?

Yes, we can.  It can be an easy and fulfilling act if we put our minds to it. It can be as simple as donating to charity those clothes we never wear, offering to get some shopping for a neighbour when we do our own weekly shop, or picking up a little something extra for the local food bank – even easier now if you can get it delivered. What about picking up an extra newspaper when we go to the newsagent, mowing an older person’s lawn when we have the mower out anyway, taking someone’s dog for a walk or doing a jigsaw with an elderly housebound person. Let’s surprise ourselves and others with some acts of kindness in 2015.

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The Royal Voluntary Service: You’re invited for Christmas

Community ChristmasNo older person should spend Christmas Day alone if they don’t want to and that’s why this year The Royal Voluntary Service has joined forces with Community Christmas to help older people who’d otherwise be on their own to find a local event where they can share a celebration.

Community Christmas is a one-stop-shop for older people, their families, friends and carers to search for options to join in on Christmas Day close to home.

Do you or someone you know not have any plans for Christmas Day?

To find a warm Christmas welcome for yourself or a friend, neighbour or loved one, go to communitychristmas.org.uk or call 0844 4430662.

Just search by town or postcode for events and activities happening up and down the country for Christmas 2014 that have their doors open and welcome older people on Christmas Day. Things to do include social events at local community centres, social clubs and pubs offering a hearty Christmas Day lunch and many can even help you get there by providing transport.

Click here to see The Royal Voluntary Service Website

Do you want to share your Christmas this year?

Do you have an event, activity or able to offer support to older people on Christmas Day? Visit the Community Christmas website to register your details and help to make Christmas happier for an older person near you.

The Age of No Retirement

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is a movement for social change – towards the creation  of a society where every citizen has the skills, support and opportunities necessary  to live a full, productive and fulfilling life.

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ event held at the OXO Bargehouse, London on 1-2 October 2014 identified 6 key campaigns that need to be brought to life. The 134 debaters and 380 participants also identified 4 or 5 proposals for action under each of the campaigns. Together, the 27 proposals describe the greatest opportunity for discovering value within a society where people are living longer, healthier and more productively than ever before.

THE FINDINGS: 6 CORE ACTION AREAS & 27 PROJECT PROPOSALS

We found that all of the ideas and insights had a connection with at least one of six core action areas:

  1. Rethink: the generational divide
  2. Rethink: design for positive change
  3. Rethink: the language
  4. Rethink: storytelling
  5. Rethink: the focus on ‘one life’
  6. Rethink: work & employability.

Under each of these action areas, 4 or 5 project proposals emerged. Together the 27 project proposals represent a clear recipe for action towards the effective rebalancing of society along age-neutral lines. For details of the action areas and project proposals, download the RETHINK-REWORK-ACT newspapers here.

How you can get involved:

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is an enabler, a facilitator, a catalyst for positive social change. We want to bring together people and organisations across the UK to collaborate in delivering the 27 project proposals. Together we can make a difference.

  • Share the ideas, support the project proposals, take action wherever you feel you can add most, tell positive stories.
  • Become CHAMPIONS (organisations and individuals) to lead on delivery of project proposals.
  • Visit the new website: www.ageofnoretirement.org
  • Sign up for the newsletter. http://www.ageofnoretirement.org/get-involved.html
  • Email act@ageofnoretirement.org if you want to get involved.
  • Email stories@ageofnoretirement.org if you have an inspiring story to share.

Follow The Age of No Retirement on Twitter: @agenoretirement #ageofnoretirement.

 

Dogs of war: the first aiders on four legs.

By on 11 17, 2014 in DogsWar

During the First World War, the British Red Cross got lots of help from an unlikely quarter.

At first, it sounds like a particularly far-fetched episode of Lassie.

A dog, you say, carrying first aid supplies through the whizzing bombs and flying bullets of no man’s land? And all to reach and save wounded soldiers? It sounds preposterous. But it’s true – every word of it.

The story may not be well known, but during the First World War the Red Cross did indeed use specially trained dogs to go and help stricken soldiers on the battlefield.

Special hounds

The story of the Great War dogs began with Major Edwin Richardson, a former soldier whose family had always ‘had a way with dogs’.

The canny Richardson recognised – way before anyone else – that our canine friends could potentially play a useful role during a war, and spent years perfecting his training techniques.

But progress wasn’t smooth. When the First World War broke out, the British Army initially refused his offer of help. (The Red Cross, however, was much more canny and gratefully took a number of specially trained hounds.)

Once the dogs started producing results, the Army quickly realised its mistake and asked Richardson to set up an official training school for war dogs. The four-legged first aiders had arrived.

Bespoke training

Richardson quickly realised that all the animals would have to be trained under realistic battle conditions.

A visiting journalist at his training school recounted: “Shells from batteries at practice were screaming overhead, and army motor lorries passed to and fro. The dogs are trained to the constant sound of the guns and very soon learn to take no heed of them.”

Realism was all-important. Richardson even paid unemployed locals to go and lie ‘injured’ in the woods so the trainee pooches could practice finding them.

The level of sophistication in the dogs’ training was jaw-dropping. They were trained to ignore dead bodies. They could understand a huge range of hand signals. They uncomplainingly wore restrictive gas masks.

Critically, they were also taught to distinguish between British military uniforms and those of the enemy. (After all, nobody wanted them leading a search party to an injured but still-armed German soldier.)

It was a long and exhaustive process, but worth it. Because once the dogs were fully trained, what they achieved on the battlefield was incredible.

Nose for trouble

As soldiers lay injured or dying out in no man’s land, the dogs were sent out under cover of darkness. Carrying harnesses filled with medical supplies and small canteens of water, they searched out their own troops. Lightly injured men could then treat their own injuries and be guided back to their own trench.

If a soldier was unconscious or unable to move, however, the dog would run back to its handler carrying a cap, glove or torn scrap of clothing as evidence.

The resourceful pooch would then silently lead a stretcher party straight back to the victim, still in pitch darkness, right under the enemy’s collective nose. (Each hound was taught to ‘freeze’ on the ground if hostile fire lit up the sky.)

According to war medics, the Red Cross dogs saved many lives. They were especially useful when working with search parties in hostile territory, because their keen noses would locate wounded soldiers in thickets and bushes who otherwise might have been missed.

Their heightened senses brought another priceless benefit. One surgeon recalled: “They sometimes lead us to bodies we think have no life in them, but when we bring them back to the doctors…always find a spark. It is purely a matter of their instinct, [which is] far more effective than man’s reasoning powers.”

BRC Blog

For the full blog, and more information please visit the British Red Cross Website here.

Dell interview our own Steve McNulty

By on 11 03, 2014 in Technology

Written by Jessica Hashemi Wednesday, 29 October 2014.

Many businesses are born from a personal experience, usually a frustrating one. Steve McNulty was no different, he needed to find a way to communicate better with his mother who had zero-technology ability. He created Visbuzz, a one-touch communication platform that allows the elderly who may be isolated or suffer from restricted mobility to contact their loved ones easily.

visbuzz1Dell has announced that Visbuzz, a burgeoning software-as-a-service start-up, has selected Dell to deliver one-touch communication technology to the elderly, who may be isolated or suffer from restricted mobility. The software, available through the cloud on Dell tablets, will offer a single-function tool to connect people quickly and efficiently with those who matter most, from family and friends to carers.

Tell me a little bit about your background?

I trained as an engineer and spent 15 years in heavy engineering (power stations and oil exploration) until I decided I wanted to be master of my own destiny. I formed my first business in 1985 and my most recent one in 2011.

Over the last 29 years, I’ve established and built businesses for myself as well as for others. I’ve raised millions in venture capital and disposed of growing business for large earnings multiples on earnings and shareholder ROI. I’ve had my set backs and hard learning experiences as have most entrepreneurs and these have always served me well going forward.

I see myself as always being involved in enterprise in some way because I love everything there is about taking ideas and making them a reality. This is especially true when the ideas are geared towards improving people’s lives and are to the benefit of communities both regionally as well as globally.

That said, it’s not all about just running a business. I have my early stage tech business (Visbuzz), but also coach 12 business leaders every month to help them get better results. I run leadership, sales and personal growth workshops for executives and I support a number of charities with their events and fundraising efforts. Luckily my partner, Elaine, supports me fully in my activities as I support her in hers.

It’s a full life and a fun life, and I adhere to Walter Hagen’s advice “…and be sure to smell the flowers along the way”

What was the inspiration for Visbuzz?

My mother is 87, immobile and yet highly independent. None of her kids live near her anymore and once my Dad died a few years ago her purpose for living declined. Adding to this the obvious isolation and exclusion, and we soon observed a downward spiral in attitude, health and mental wellbeing.

I had to find a way of including her in family and community life, raise her self-esteem and help all of us kids and grandkids stay connected. The cost and inconvenience of numerous weekly long drives for only a few minutes of face-to-face Mum time made me consider if I knew of someway I could use technology without her needing to.

Knowing what is possible and building it are two completely different things, especially when the recipient has never seen nor used a computer (as she knows it). The struggle for the absolute simplicity was agonizing. I brought in some old colleagues from the tech world and we tried a number of solutions. Finally, after 3 months, we arrived at a prototype. We then took about 21 months to get it simple enough for my mum to use, taking out the psychological barriers for her as well.

Our vision was to help create a world in which loneliness doesn’t exist, by making video calling really simple for people who can’t, don’t or won’t use computers. We now have a simple system allows users to make a call with a single touch. It actually looks like my Mum’s favourite photo frame and all she does to have a video call with me is touch my photo. It as simple as that.

Currently we run Visbuzz on Dell Venue Pro 8-inch tablets and the system works brilliantly. In a relatively short time, we’ve seen unbelievable results, not only for us but also for my mum’s carers, the GP and the NHS.

We now have customers in a number of areas in the UK successfully using Visbuzz. It’s rewarding to see the impact we are making in this area.

Why did you decide to partner with Dell?

I knew we needed a strong tech partner for this project. We had the idea, we had the developers but nothing was going to get traction like a reliable, robust bit of kit on the ground that reflects our values and our customer’s needs. This might sound a bit fluffy, but it was critical to our success.

I searched the market and was impressed by Michael Dell’s re-entry into the start-up market by essentially buying back the company he started nearly 30 years ago. I talked to a number of people at Dell and was incredibly impressed with how much time they were prepared to invest in my business and me at this very early stage. Like any new partnership, I still have to investigate Dell’s ability to deliver. We set up a few trials, which worked really well, for both of us.

We now have a partnership with Dell where Visbuzz devices are shipped directly to our customers and, more importantly, they work straight out of the box. Dell OEM have helped us develop a standard image and operating structure that simplifies our product so that as soon as you log onto your WiFi, then you’re ready to go with Visbuzz.

What does this collaboration entail?

Dell has really helped us in all areas of our technical development for Visbuzz and they are now starting to help us with its promotion. Specifically Dell has helped us with making the best use of the latest technology, such as Windows 8.

We are fortunate to be a part of the Dell Founders 50 cohort, which is a two-year program focused on key areas of growth for member companies and have access to support including technology, sales enablement, marketing, capital and networking opportunities. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to network with other high-growth tech businesses at all stages in their journey at a global level and have access to

Tell me a bit about Visbuzz’s potential in the health sector?

Where do I start? Visbuzz has the capability to reduce isolation and loneliness. That’s how we started and that is still our vision. However, the consequences of this are so huge that the numbers are meaningless in comparative terms. There are millions of people in the UK who are isolated and lonely and, as a result, a huge burden on themselves, their families, communities and the state. Recent studies show that 25 per cent of elderly patient appointments with a doctor are because they are lonely.

A single hospital admission costs at the very least three times the first year cost of a fully functional Visbuzz and over ten times the cost of an annual Visbuzz subscription. So on hospital admissions alone for the millions of elderly and isolated each year the savings to the state are substantial. Add in the other savings such as time and cost with remote consultations with those who can’t use Skype or FaceTime, and the financial benefits sky rocket.

In addition, we haven’t touched the benefits to the communities such as those that suffer from arthritis, MS, dementia, paraplegic or quadriplegic.

With that, not only can Visbuzz help reduce the cost burden of isolation, exclusion and loneliness it will also improve connection and happiness for the user and those that matter most to them.

Where do you hope to see Visbuzz in five years?

I see Visbuzz being used throughout the NHS and privately as a main stay of communication with those who can’t, don’t and won’t use computers at whatever age or ability.

I would hope that we are still partnering with Dell and also with a partner that has an established longer-term relationship with the NHS. I do foresee our growth being limited somewhat by the inherent barriers we’ll face selling in to the public sector. Having said that I find everyone I talk to in the NHS eager and willing to help. It’s the systems that slow everything up and it’s frustrating for everyone.

And finally, what advice would you give to entrepreneurs?

Make sure you are always looking to BEFITA for Entrepreneurship.

B = Belief – believe in yourself, your idea and maintain that belief. If you don’t believe in you and your vision you can’t expect others to.

E = Energy – you must maintain high levels of energy. This requires you to be physically fit (ish) and mentally fit. Plus you need to make sure you nourish your mind and body correctly. You are always in life-long-learning mode.

F = Focus – focus, focus and focus. Maintaining focus is absolutely key for you. For all the best reasons in the world others will want to distract you and you must be steadfast. Beware feature creep at all costs. If I’d lost focus then Visbuzz would not be the simple system it is today.

I = Intention – you must have an ultimate leader’s intention. That is – where are we heading. You must also plan in detail to identify possible routes. However, no plan has ever survived an encounter with a customer, a supplier or staff. Agility is key and to be agile you need to know your ultimate intention.

T = Tenacity – tenacity is key to helping with energy and focus and vice versa. Keep going and then keep going some more. People want to know that you’re around for the long haul. They want to know you’re not going away. Be tenacious.

A = Awareness – It’s easy to become internally obsessed and driven. You will need to influence a lot of other people to follow you in your vision. Peter Drucker said “There’s only one definition of a leader – someone who has followers”. Only be maintaining your awareness of others, their needs and their drivers will you do this.

After saying all that – it’s dead easy…Compelling Vision – Great People – Massive Energy.

See the full interview here.

Falling back with the clocks

On Sunday we saw the clocks go back. Some people will have stayed up later to take full advantage of the extra hour in bed, those with children (and dogs or cats!) will have had no change in routine at all and felt maybe a little cheated. Most of us will still be trying to figure out how to change the time on the oven, the video and in the car – unless we didn’t put the clocks forward in the spring and therefore out clocks are correct for the first time in 6 months….

The days are getting shorter and we will soon be experiencing the shortest day. On the bright side, that must mean we’re on our way to the longest day again and summer is just around the corner? In the mean time we must fight our urges to hibernate and spend all of the hours of darkness away from the world and instead keep looking forward. It is still quite mild out there, and any amount of fresh air is good for the body and the soul. Sometimes we cannot get away from routine – we have to go to work, take kids to school, go for appointments and meetings, and the changing of the seasons is purely an inconvenience. The kids may find a blessing in an occasional snow day though!

If however you do not have a regular routine to pull you out of your chair or off the sofa, wrap up and be brave. Get into the garden and take in the colours, the changes and animals scurrying around. Or wander down to the park, or a near bench and watch the world for a minute or two. You will be amazed at home good you feel getting outside and being a part of something bigger.

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The Age Of No Retirement? Visbuzz joins the debate.

By on 09 29, 2014 in Activities

This week employers, policy makers, corporations (big and small), designers, artists, academics, inventors and social commentators will come together in a free event to explore the social and economic opportunities of a Britain in which the average person now lives. ‘The Age of No Retirement?‘ is a landmark event, a national debate about the opportunities in a society where we are living longer, which will look to break new ground and imagine new futures.

We are used to hearing about the demographic time bomb, baby boomers and the unsustainable cost of the ever-growing older generation. But, people are now living longer, healthier and more productively than ever before. In other words, we are younger for longer. So we need to start thinking in terms of positives, and what this means for the UK: a fit, educated work force that possesses that most valuable of assets – experience. And we can’t let all this talent go to waste.

The event will use talks from experts, open stakeholder debates, and participatory workshops, plus the involvement of artists to bring the insights to life. At the end of two days of thinking the co-authored insights will be pulled together and recorded in one unique collection of new ways of thinking.

The organisers hope to change thinking on a massive scale and ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ starting on the 1st October is the first step in this process.

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is about breaking away from the patterns of the past and tuning into new opportunities and possibilities. The two days are about working collectively with openness. They are about asking ‘what kind of world do we want to live in?’, ‘isn’t there a way to change what we have for the better?’, ‘how can we create a better society for our children and our grandchildren?’ Trading Times and Commonland.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 and Thursday, 2 October 2014. Southbank, United Kingdom. Register for your free tickets here.

No retirement

Visbuzz and Dell

By on 09 15, 2014 in communicationTechnology

Visbuzz has selected Dell to deliver our one-touch communication technology to the elderly, who may be isolated or suffer from restricted mobility.  The software, available through the cloud on Dell tablets, offers a single-function tool to connect people quickly and efficiently with those who matter most, from family and friends to carers.

In the UK, the aging population means that there are millions who are desperate to have more contact with those who matter most but lack the ability to physically visit or communicate easily in the increasingly digital world.

Following an introduction via the Dell UK Centre for Entrepreneurs, an initiative that provides access to funding, mentoring and Dell’s technical expertise and world class infrastructure to help developing businesses grow and scale quickly, we chose Dell OEM Solutions to take its system to a wider customer base.  With its belief that technology is underpinning and fuelling growth among entrepreneurs, Dell saw the significant potential of the system and worked with Visbuzz to integrate its offering onto preconfigured Dell Venue 8 Pro tablets on a set-up and fulfilment model. As a result, Visbuzz customers receive delivery direct from Dell and their tablets work with Visbuzz straight out of the box.

Steve McNulty, CEO of Visbuzz, explained why the company chose Dell: “While Visbuzz can run as a stand-alone system for users to install on their own hardware, we realised that many of our target demographic do not already have their own product.  By offering a complete package with a robust Dell tablet, we’re able to ensure that everyone can benefit from our solution.  Dell OEM Solutions is committed to our vision and focused on helping us prepare our service for market as both a supplier and a promoter.”

As well as helping bring people together, Visbuzz also offers a cost-effective solution for health professionals to carry out consultations remotely.  In the first project of its kind in the UK, Dell tablets that support Visbuzz are already being installed by Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Halton Borough Council in the homes of some of the area’s most isolated and vulnerable residents.  The project also teaches volunteers from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), local authority and local community groups, such as the British Red Cross and Wellbeing Enterprises, how to use Visbuzz effectively in the users’ homes. Visbuzz is committed to leading innovation in its industry and has joined the Dell Founders 50, a highly curated group of CEOs and founders who view technology as a critical backbone to business success, to help achieve this goal.

Dermot O’Connell, executive director and general manager, OEM Solutions at Dell, gave an overview of the importance of Dell’s work with Visbuzz: “Digital exclusion is an increasing problem for those who are not natural adopters of new technology, such as the elderly. Visbuzz is a great way to introduce a new demographic to the benefits of technology without overwhelming them.  The customer doesn’t see a new-fangled device that they don’t understand; they see a familiar photo frame that can connect them to their loved ones by simply touching the image.”

See the Dell Press Release here.

 

 

Accessible Days Out in London

With the sun shining and the holidays in full swing, you might be wondering where you can go for a fun day out. If you have a wheelchair user with you, or are a wheelchair yourself, use a guide dog or have restricted mobility, it is helpful to know in advance how accessible some of the tourist attractions are. Here are some ideas for accessible days out in London.

1. The London Eye, one of the most popular tourist attractions in London is fully wheelchair accessible. It is the tallest observation wheel in the world.

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2. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens are fully accessible and disabled toilets are located at the entrance. Guide dogs are allowed in every part of the gardens and if you need to hire a wheelchair it can be booked in advance.

3. At the London Zoo, many exhibits are displayed at a height which is suitable for people in wheelchairs and most of the zoo will be accessible. Disabled toilets are available. Admission is free for the companion traveller of wheelchair users, but those with guide dogs should know that guide dogs cannot be admitted.  You can make arrangements to have a guide dog looked after while a zoo volunteer guides you around the zoo. ZSL London Zoo seeks to provide equal opportunity for all to enjoy the animal exhibits and visitor facilities. The Zoo is more than 170 years old and contains many old buildings, 12 of which are listed. Nevertheless, most of the Zoo is accessible for wheelchair users and those with restricted mobility.

4. The Cabinet War Rooms, used as headquarters by Winston Churchill in World War II have 21 underground rooms and are a real must-see for any history buff. All rooms are wheelchair accessible, disabled toilets are available and guide dogs are permitted in the museum. There are also some visual and hearing impaired aids available.

5. The Gothic architecture and exquisite craftsmanship of Westminster Abbey should not be missed. Steeped in history with the weddings and funerals of famous Monarchs and the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the Abbey has excellent wheelchair access.  Guide dogs are allowed in all parts of the building and visual and hearing resources are also available. Kings, queens, statesmen and soldiers; poets, priests, heroes and villains – the Abbey is a must-see living pageant of British history. Despite being a protected Gothic building reasonable adjustments have been made throughout the Abbey for people that have extra mobility requirements, whilst a fixed hearing loop and touch tours are available for those with sensory impairments.

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6. At St. Paul’s Cathedral only one part is inaccessible to wheelchair users – the American Chapel. Disabled access is via an elevator and assistance is available should it be required. Guide dogs are welcome and touch and audio provisions are in place for the visual and hearing impaired. “Enter St Paul’s and enjoy the cathedral’s awe-inspiring interior. Take advantage of a new touch-screen multimedia guide or join a guided tour to explore this iconic building, both now included with the sightseeing admission charge.” You can’t fail to be captivated by the grandeur and triumphant architecture of St Paul’s Cathedral. With ramp access to the south entrance and hearing loops throughout it’s a haven of tranquility in the heart of the City.

7. If you want to see some famous but waxy faces at Madame Tussauds it is strongly recommended that you book in advance as the museum has strict health and safety rules and only three wheelchairs are permitted into the museum at one time. Priority admission will be given to wheelchair users who have pre-booked their visit. Entry is free for everyone who holds a valid disability registration card.

8. The world-famous British Museum exhibits the works of man from across the globe, dating from prehistoric to modern times. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection. Entry is free but special exhibitions require tickets. With free parking for blue badge holders, audio described exhibits and lifts throughout you can be sure of a great day out at the British Museum.

9. Buckingham Palace serves as both the office and London residence of Her Majesty The Queen. It is one of the few working royal palaces remaining in the world today.”Walk in the footsteps of our reigning Monarch with a visit to Buckingham Palace. With level access, lifts, hearing loops and free of charge wheelchairs, the palace is a “must see” in the Capital. Wheelchair users are requested to pre-book so the palace can make arrangements for you.

10. Hundreds of exciting, interactive exhibits in one of London’s most beautiful landmark buildings. Despite being over 130 years old, the Natural History Museum has a whole range of access facilities including lifts and ramps throughout most exhibits and all stuff receive disability awareness and equality training, all perfect for making your journey through the ages as hassle free as possible.

With thanks to, and to find out more, visit http://www.travelingwithmj.com/

BRITSH RED CROSS: DON’T BE CAUGHT RED-FACED THIS HEATWAVE

By on 07 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

We share advice from the British Red Cross: See more here

It doesn’t often get hot in Britain – which is why so many of us go a bit solar-crazy. But before lathering yourself in baby oil and lying out on a piece of tin-foil, heed these warnings.

1. Sunburn At the first sign of good weather, it’s a popular male instinct in the UK to immediately expose one’s milky-white torso to the blazing sun. Many women, meanwhile, will spend days wearing differently-strapped tops until their exposed backs look like weird, sunburny crop circles. All too often, sun lotion doesn’t feature.

The problem is that most of us tend to see sunburn as not-really-a-proper-burn. But it is, just as surely as putting your hand over a lit flame. It’s very damaging, potentially cancerous and incredibly ageing for your skin.

Top tips 1. Regularly apply a high-factor sun lotion. 2. Try to stay in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm. 3. Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes that offer protection.

2. Drink lots of water It’s not a delightful image, but the truth is we all become human colanders during a heatwave. In very hot weather, our bodies sweat out liquid at a rate of knots so it’s really important to rehydrate.

Top tips 1. Take regular, small sips of water. (Note: drinking nothing for four hours then glugging back four litres in one go is cheating, and doesn’t work.) 2. Lager, beer, Pimms, wine and sweet fizzy drinks are not water. They are anti-water, in fact, because they cause dehydration.

3. Avoid heat exhaustion Ever wondered why all those cool-looking people in Mediterranean countries (‘Ciao!’) tend to stick to the shade and take things easy? It’s because they know how the body can quickly overheat under a strong sun.

Remember: excessive sweating = body losing salt and water = headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Top tips 1. Help someone who’s not feeling well to a shady place and ask them to lie down. 2. Give them plenty of water to drink. 3. Remove any excess, bulky clothing. 4. Monitor their condition – if their breathing or pulse changes, call 999.

4. Heatstroke: the big danger This is the serious one. If someone becomes dangerously over-heated, the brain’s ‘thermostat’ can malfunction and the body can’t regulate its own temperature. People with heatstroke often stop sweating and can lose consciousness within minutes, so you need to act fast.

Top tips 1. Quickly move the person to a cool place and remove outer clothing. 2. Call 999 for emergency help. 3. Wrap the person in a cold, wet sheet and pour cold water over them until their temperature falls to a normal level. 4. Once their temperature is normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry one. 5. Monitor and record their vital signs until emergency help arrives.

Sun

Life Made Easier

By on 07 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

There are so many new innovations being made every day. Many of these can be used to combat the struggles that hinder everyday life, and through design, mean that they benefit a large range of people. Here just a few of the inventions out there:

So first up, for those who enjoy twiddling their thumbs, or who seek comfort in something physical to touch. I give you the Twiddle Muff! http://www.activitiestoshare.co.uk/p/1/twiddle-muff-comforters. Particularly good for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the Twiddle Muff will keep the person occupied and snug simultaneously.

twiddle_muff_comforters (640x619)

Secondly, the folding walking stick. Many people use a walking stick to support them, but the problem lies when trying to store it. Trying to get into the car with it proves to be a challenge. Do you put it on the floor and let it tangle legs into a hopeless knot?  Or do you balance it on your shoulders pointing straight at the windscreen, or let it hit just about everyone in the face?  The solution has arrived: http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Smallest-Folding-Walking-Stick/dp/B001TKBMIE. This walking stick folds nicely into a small space, in your handbag or even just to put in the car.

Folding Walking Stick

Thirdly, the no bend pet bowl. For many people bending down can be a real struggle, so the no bend pet bowl comes in very handy. With a long vertical handle it can be lifted up, refilled and placed back down with ease: http://www.elderberrydirect.co.uk/no-bend-pet-bowl.html

no bend pet bowl

Lastly, for those who have trouble bending down and gripping things – the Folding Reacher could do the trick. If you know someone, or if you yourself struggle with bending down to pick things up, to grip them or lift them, then by using the Reacher, these tasks can be made possible. http://www.elderberrydirect.co.uk/helping-hand/around-the-house/folding-reacher.html

folding reacher

With thanks to Jamie Cox for writing this week’s blog, and look out for more handy inventions in future blogs!

 

The Health+Care and Commissioning Show 2014

By on 06 30, 2014 in Health and Wellbeing

We spent Wednesday and Thursday last week at the Health+Care and Commissioning 2014 Show. With the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health), Rt Hon Norman Lamb (Minister of State for Care and Support) and Andy Burnham (Shadow Secretary of State for Health) leading a diverse panel of speakers, it was an interesting couple of days. There was a focus on integration throughout the Show, and case studies from Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authorities with debates around loneliness, dementia, mental health and the Better Care Fund.
We were lucky enough to exhibit, and attend a few talks around loneliness and social exclusion. We met some wonderful people and organisations making a real difference in the lives of people, and challenging the stigma attached to the subject of loneliness. These included Action on Hearing Loss, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Avante Partnership, British Red Cross, Essex Cares, Livability, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mears Group, Midland Heart and Royal Voluntary Service to name a few.
The Rt Hon Norman Lamb highlighted that technology in care is crucial and that addressing loneliness and isolation reduces hospital admissions. Tracey Robbins, Programme Manager for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shared their work on how neighbourhoods can contribute to the well-being of local people at risk of, or experiencing, loneliness in a sustainable way.
We were able to highlight the role Visbuzz can have in combating isolation, increasing social and digital inclusion, increasing wellbeing and reducing the costs of caring. It was fantastic to be able to demonstrate how well Visbuzz works with one of our very own Visbuzz Champions from the British Red Cross located in Halton having a one touch video call with some of the delegates gathered around our stand at the Show.
It was a great couple of days, and so positive to see people working together to improve health and care, and the quality of people’s lives.

healthcare_logo

 

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Expert series blog: Sight loss, dementia, and the built environment

By on 06 23, 2014 in independent living

Jo Lawson, Independent Living Manager at RNIB Cymru discusses how people with dementia and sight loss can be helped to live as independently and safely as possible.

It’s a fact that the population is ageing. 10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old.  It is projected that there will be five and a half million more elderly people in 20 years time and the number will have nearly doubled to around 19 million by 2050.

Some more facts: sight loss affects people of all ages but especially older people, one in nine people over the age of 60 and one in three people over the age of 85 are living with sight loss. The number of people living with sight loss is set to double over the next 25 years. Over a fifth of people with sight loss live in social housing. Ensuring their safety, independence, and equality is paramount to the work my team and I do.

I head up the Independent Living Team at RNIB Cymru. This includes our Welfare Rights team, award winning digital inclusion team, Vision Support Officer based with RCT Homes, and of course our Visibly Better and housing and access consultancy team. Visibly Better Cymru is an accreditation scheme for supported housing and other public spaces. Organisations work towards six standards, which focus on different aspects of accessibility, and receive Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of accreditation as they progress through the standards. Visibly Better accreditation is a hallmark of good practice, recognised by Welsh Government, which organisations can use in marketing materials to attract new clients and to include in tenders for contracts.

Dementia is an increasingly common disability in older people and there are around 45,000 people in Wales who have it. In addition over 1 in 3 people with dementia will have a significant sight loss, with a large proportion of the rest having deteriorating vision through ageing.

People with dementia often have other health needs and conditions which tend to increase as people with dementia age. The combination of both dementia and sight loss can have a large and often dramatic effect on a person’s ability to cope with the symptoms of dementia.

Sight loss can also be caused by dementia itself. People with dementia often experience changes in visual functioning or visual perception due to neurological impairments, including problems with depth perception, glare and visual mistakes, or misrepresentations. Visual mistakes can take the form of illusions, misperceptions, misidentifications, and sometimes even hallucinations. These changes in vision can further be exacerbated by natural age-related changes to the eye and/or sight conditions.

To summarise, someone who has both dementia and sight loss will be in one of three situations:

  • A person with dementia whose visual functioning is affected by brain changes caused by the dementia but who does not have a separate eye condition; the brain cannot interpret and process the information from the eyes which are healthy.
  • A person with dementia who does not have impairment of the brain functions associated with vision but has an eye condition such as macular degeneration or cataract.
  • A person who has a combination of the above.

Our Senior Housing and Access Consultant Antonia John has written “Homes for people with dementia and sight loss: a guide to designing and providing safe and accessible environments”. The aim of this guidance is to support organisations and individuals when designing, refurbishing, and maintaining new and existing accommodation and other public spaces. It is based on the principles of providing a fully inclusive environment that supports people with dementia and sight loss to live as independently and safely as possible.

Housing associations from across Wales have told RNIB Cymru that some existing information and advice from the dementia field contradicts other best practice guidance; especially relating to meeting the needs of people with sight loss. There is also currently no definitive guidance on building EMI (Elderly Mentally Ill) wings or Extra Care homes linking in with sight loss and dementia requirements. This publication seeks to address this.

Due to the nature of dementia and the wide and varied symptoms that people experience when they have both sight loss and dementia there is not a “one size fits all” set of recommendations that will meet everyone’s needs. Similarly as dementia progresses someone’s needs may change and further adaptations may be necessary, as what worked previously to support a person’s independence may not continue to support them. There are however key principles that can be incorporated when designing and refurbishing housing for people with dementia and sight loss and these are detailed in this publication.

“Homes for people with dementia and sight loss” is for everyone involved in the design, development, and management of housing or other related disciplines. The guide is particularly aimed at organisations which are designing, refurbishing or maintaining existing sheltered housing stock and those building and designing new Extra Care housing and care homes. It will also be a valuable resource for managers of sheltered housing, Extra Care schemes, and care homes.

For more information, or to order your free copy of the publication, please email Jo Lawson, RNIB Cymru’s Independent Living Manager Joanne.Lawson@rnib.org.uk

RNIB RNIB

 

What did you do at the weekend?

By on 06 16, 2014 in Health and Wellbeing

Three of the Visbuzz team travelled to Wales and climbed Mount Snowdon last weekend as preparation for our Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge in July. During the climb, we encountered all kinds of people (and dogs!) of different ages and abilities, however the thing that struck me was the different things people think of doing on any particular day. Some of you will have spent that day with family and friends, carting the kids round to their activities or shopping for groceries. Others will have had a relaxing day in front of the TV or pottering around the house, catching up on work or progressing that To Do list.

We, however, had a plan to climb up a mountain. For the more sensible people, there was a fantastic steam train that safely delivered them at the top of Snowdon, and then back down to the bottom again. Unfortunately the weather on Saturday left a lot to be desired so neither those on the train nor walking were able to experience many spectacular views.

There was another group of people on Snowdon that day; these people were not just out to climb Snowdon, these people had an even greater plan for their day!  They were running up and down the mountain – some were competing against others in a race – and there were others carrying bikes up the mountain to cycle back down again.

This demonstrated to me the fantastic differences between us all – from the chatty car park attendant when we parked the car and the helpful staff in the cafe half way up (hot chocolate very much appreciated thank you), to all those determined runners, cyclists and walkers. The sheer variety of individuals in the vicinity at the same time all with their own lives, goals coming together for a shared experience is certainly something to contemplate. It demonstrated to me that life is not a competition, and we all have our parts to play – no matter how moderate or extreme.

Snowdon

 

Age UK: An older worker, but just as productive.

By on 06 09, 2014 in elderly

This week we share a blog post from Age UK:

If you want to raise a few eyebrows, there’s nothing like busting a stereotype.

Older workers are perceived in many (usually negative) ways, and such stereotypes are often deeply ingrained with the nation’s psyche. However it’s often unfair to apply them to the majority of people, which is why it’s important we challenge them.

This blog dissects just one: that as people age, their health gets worse and cognitive ability declines making them less productive in the workplace.

Our new briefing, which draws its conclusions based on a wide range of research evidence, explains in detail why this view in incorrect.

Out-of-date assumptions
Many studies that find older workers are less productive date from the last century, and simply assume that ageing leads to a noticeable decline in physical and mental health.

Many of these – unsurprisingly, given the assumption – find that ageing reduces productivity!

However recent improvements in the medical evidence show clearly that while peoples’ capabilities do change as they age – there may be slight declines in some areas and improvements in others – this leads to a neutral or even a positive overall effect, both of which are contrary to the stereotype.

Occupational differences?
It’s easy to recognise arguments rebutting the stereotype as being correct in service-based occupations. But perhaps more surprisingly it also holds true in many manual jobs.

Studies from German car-production lines again show that older workers can be at least as productive as their younger colleagues.

Ultimately there are very few jobs that require people to fully exert themselves physically or mentally, meaning people don’t need to perform at their peak over long periods of time.

Age is just a number
As the briefing shows, someone’s chronological age bears no relation to their ability or capability. And the vast majority of jobs can be done by people regardless of age – as long as the job-holder has the right skills and attributes, of course.

Someone’s age should not be a barrier to a fulfilling career.

The briefing also considers another question – what would happen if we had more age-friendly working practices (such as genuinely flexible working or proper reasonable adjustments)?

Surely this would help boost productivity among older workers even further.

And there may even be a few employers who would agree.

AgeUKBlog

 

The Importance of a Cuppa

The idea of Afternoon Tea seems more popular than ever. There is traditional afternoon tea, gluten free afternoon tea, savoury afternoon tea, champagne afternoon tea or if you prefer, a simple cream tea. The common thread is a nice cup of tea to complete the experience.

Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.

The only difference now is that a cup of tea has come to be seen as a very good excuse to meet up and have a natter, put the world to rights, console and commiserate over.  Not feeling too well? I’ll just put the kettle on. Daughter gone off to university? Come round and have a cuppa – I might even have some cakes in the cupboard……

For those who feel lonely, or have mobility restrictions, organisations both locally and nationally are making sure that arrangements are in place so no one has to miss out. One of these is Contact the elderly. They organise regular Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over 75, who live with little or no social support.

That cup of tea is equally important to keep us going throughout the day. The Royal Voluntary Service highlights that the humble tea round is a tradition that is slowly becoming extinct in today’s fast-paced busy workplace. 2.5 million workers in Great Britain say they don’t have the time to put the kettle on for their colleagues. We jumped on board their campaign and got the boss to make the tea!

Tea

Visbuzz and The British Red Cross

Visbuzz has been working with The British Red Cross in Halton. Here’s what they had to say about the project:

Partnership work in Cheshire helps beneficiaries combat isolation and loneliness in Halton.

The Cheshire health and social care team are hard at work to ensure that the roll-out and implementation of Visbuzz goes as smoothly as possible.

The Visbuzz device is being used to reduce isolation and loneliness. It offers a single task mobile touch screen that enables beneficiaries to connect face-to-face to those who matter most to them.

British Red Cross support worker David Warrener along with co-ordinator Joan Carter have completed training enabling them to install the equipment and assist beneficiaries to log-on and benefit from the Visbuzz experience.

Red Cross health and social care senior service manager John Morris explains “Halton’s loneliness strategy has acknowledged that loneliness impacts on an individual’s health and quality of life. Some estimates put the health impact of loneliness as equivalent to smoking fifteen cigarettes each day, of greater severity than not exercising and twice as harmful as obesity. The Visbuzz project will be piloted with a small number of local older people and will enable the Visbuzz users to keep in contact with family, friends and carers. The British Red Cross support at home team have been working hard with Halton Borough Council, Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Visbuzz, to develop this interesting project.”

This photo shows David Warrener assisting beneficiary Ruth Barrow to contact her son Clive in Scotland through Visbuzz.

BRC

 

 

 

 

Useful Websites

By on 05 12, 2014 in elderlyloneliness

In March we posted some useful links to organisations working towards reducing and ending loneliness as well as working towards the rights of older people. Here are some others which you may find useful:

http://www.thesilverline.org.uk: The Silver line is a free, 24 hour, confidential helpline for older people. The helpline is open every day and night of the year to offer information, friendship and advice, link callers to local groups and services, offer regular befriending calls and protect and support callers suffering abuse and neglect.  The website gives you information on the service and ways to get involved.

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk: Alzheimer’s Society is a membership organisation, which works to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Their local services include day care and home care for people with dementia, as well as support and befriending services to help partners and families cope with the demands of caring.

http://www.helpage.org/tags/uk: HelpAge International helps older people worldwide claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.

http://www.whentheygetolder.co.uk: When They Get Older is an independent site for anyone with ageing and elderly family and friends, offering advice, guides and information.

http://www.mind.org.uk: Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

http://www.independentage.org: Independent Age is a charity that is an established voice for older people. They address three types of poverty older people can be subject to; Financial, Social and Information through advice, befriending and campaigning.

http://www.redcross.org.uk: British Red Cross are a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis. This includes providing support at home, transport, mobility aids and services for people with disabilities.

Blog Internet

 

Safety at Home

We all need to be aware of the potential dangers we can face while at home, however these dangers can be increased for these with limited mobility, sight or hearing.

Ensuring that smoke detectors are installed can save lives in the event of a fire. Most Fire and Rescue departments in the UK offer free Home Fire Safety Checks and you may also be eligible to have free smoke alarms fitted. The Fire Brigade has run a campaign over the past couple of years called ‘Time to Test’. When you change your clocks twice a year, you can use this as an opportunity to test your smoke detectors. It is important to check that your smoke detectors are working on a regular basis. There are also smoke detectors with visual alerts for those with a hearing impairment.

If the home uses gas, do you have a carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide (CO) can be produced by faulty heaters and you cannot see, taste or smell it. There are a range of detectors available including those with alarms that are audible and/or visual.

Trips and falls can be a danger to all, but especially older people. You can reduce the danger of trips and falls by ensuring all rugs are secured to the floor and any hazards are removed from the floor areas and nothing is left lying on the stairs. In addition, using a pick-up stick or grabber to help pick things up from the floor and putting a letterbox cage over the letterbox on the inside of the door, to prevent post from falling onto the floor can also reduce the risks.

If you are particularly worried about the safety and wellbeing of an older person, there are a range of personal alarms available where the person can activate the alarm themselves, and sensor options for others to monitor activity, or inactivity. You can find further advice from a number of sources including: Which and Age UK.

If we spend just a couple of minutes thinking about Home Safety, we will be able to keep ourselves and others happy, reassured and safe in our own homes.

 

House

The Written Word

By on 04 07, 2014 in communication

The art of communication has changed over the years and now a lot of it is done electronically, but is there anything better than receiving a handwritten card or letter in the post? There was a recent article in the press about a teacher who got his students, at the age of 14, to write letters to their future selves. These letters included predictions and dreams for their future. Twenty years later, he posted these letters back to all of the students that he was able to track down.

Can you remember what your dreams were for your older self? Have you changed? Did you reach your goals, or create brand new ones you never would have been able to think of when you were young?

Writing to your future self can be a fun exercise, and when you read the letter however many years down the line, it can bring back wonderful memories. If you were writing at a time when things were tough, reading the letter in the future can help you to realise the better place you have arrived at.

We have to be realistic as well. None of us knows what the years ahead have in store. The written word can live on for us, and help us to be remembered. It can also give our loved ones strength after we are gone. One example of how the written word can live on is in this lovely story of a woman who left a written message for her husband to receive after she had died.  Click here to read the story.

If you write a diary,  that can be a great way to check in with your present self, and you can compare different stages in your life. Even if you just note appointments, or make brief comments about what you have been doing, or places you have been to, it can be worth doing. The important thing to remember is that we can continue to go forward in one way or another, and goals can continue to be set, no matter how small.

So, go for it, get writing today!

Happy woman writing

Two Senior Women Playing Dominoes At Day Care Centre

Keeping Active

Keeping active into older age is the key to staying fit, mobile, healthy and independent. Being active does not necessary mean getting down to the gym or attending your local keep fit class, although for some this is ideal. Being active can increase well-being and reduce social isolation.

Here are some ideas for keeping active:

Social Clubs – these can include lunch clubs, computer clubs and book clubs. People with a similar interest can get together and spend time on that shared interest. It could be as specific as dominoes or Scrabble, or as wide as tea and cake!

Art and Craft – learning a new skill, or continuing with a craft you already enjoy is a great way to keep active. There are art and craft groups ranging from knitting to drawing or card making. Arts and crafts are a  great way to spend time with people or just to enjoy in your own home. The joy of making things is that you can give them to others as presents and keep sakes, which boosts feelings of well-being.

Crosswords and Quizzes – these can be enjoyed as part of a group, or by yourself. It is always beneficial to keep challenging yourself intellectually, and  it’s fun to have a bit of a competition with those you know. Challenge yourself to see how many answers can you get without resorting to the dictionary or encyclopaedia!

Singing – there is nothing better than a good sing along. Music can help to motivate you, reduce stress and stimulate memories. There is also the benefit of being able to enjoy music when you are alone, making you feel less lonely. Why not put on a favourite song and have a sing along in the front room?

Some useful links in relation to keeping active:

http://www.elderlyactivities.co.uk/

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/keeping-fit/getting-moving-/

And for those who want to get physically active for the first time, the NHS offers a useful guide to getting started for older people: http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Exercises-for-older-people.aspx 

Two Senior Women Playing Dominoes At Day Care Centre

 

Happiness

By on 03 24, 2014 in community

Last week, on 20th March, it was Happiness Day. It made me wonder – why just one day?  I have met a number of wonderful individuals who seem to have decided that they are going to have a happiness life, not just a day. They make you want to be around them because their happiness is contagious! Did they practise to be that way? Is it a conscious decision made every morning, or is it effortless?  On the other hand – Happiness Day … a whole day? That’s quite a lot of pressure really. What if I’m tired, or have an argument with someone, can I try again tomorrow?

We all have different perspectives, experiences and opinions. During the course of a week, we can be exposed to a number of different social interactions. Some of these interactions can be positive, and some can be negative. It is easy to judge others by how we are feeling, by what has affected us, by what we are looking to achieve that day but we rarely stop to appreciate the fact that we have no idea what has already happened that day to the individuals with whom we interact.

If we are treated with respect, and made to feel good about ourselves then we appreciate the other person and walk away smiling. If we are disrespected, cut up in traffic, or someone jumps in front of us in a queue, we become the victim and judge the other person as mean and selfish. It is our natural instinct to become outraged and upset, but what if we stop for a moment? What kind of day has that person had? There is no excuse for behaving badly, but we tend to make bad choices if we’re mad, or scared, or stressed.

However we feel, whatever is going on in our lives, we are social creatures. Happy or sad, we are all part of each other’s lives.  From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, the definition of SONDER helps me to put across my point.

The benefits of owning a pet

Owning a pet can be a great way to reduce loneliness and increase wellbeing. Pets make you feel loved and provide friendship. They can not only improve a person’s quality of life, but improve their health too. They have been shown to reduce the feelings of isolation and anxiety, and can lead to increased socialisation. If you have a dog, there is also the increase in activity of course.

When you walk your dog, people stop to talk to you and to your companion, you meet other dog owners, you get outside more and you generally feel better – even owning a goldfish or a hamster can be beneficial. Having a pet means that you have something to talk to, to share your thoughts and decisions with, something to come home to and to make you feel needed, appreciated and depended upon. For some people their pet is their sense of purpose and pride.

Pets are used in various forms of therapy, including helping people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to re-enter society. There is no need to explain to your pet what you’ve been through and there is no judgment of you, simply acceptance and company. Pets in residential homes have been shown to improve both patient and staff morale, and they can also provide a great source of entertainment and distraction. The national charity Pets As Therapy has volunteers who provide therapeutic visits (mainly with dogs, but there are a few cats too) to hospitals, hospices, care homes, nursing homes and special needs schools.  These visits bring comfort and companionship to thousands of people, reduce their feelings of isolation and speed up their recovery from illness.

Owning a pet can decrease depression, stress and anxiety and have medical benefits which include lowering blood pressure, improving your immunity to disease and even decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. There are many benefits of owning a pet, whatever the make or model you choose.

Do remember though, that sometimes they may eat your shoes!

dogs like to eat shoes

Spring has Sprung

By on 03 03, 2014 in mental health

Hopefully where you are reading this, there is a bright yellow light in the sky today. It has been quite a while since we were graced with its presence, but isn’t it a lovely sight! With the recent rain, floods and storms, you become more appreciative of the bright light that brings a touch of warmth and maybe even a smile. Let us welcome the sunshine!

The winter has been a strange one. Yes it has been cold at times, but mostly it has been grey. The weather can have a big impact on our mood, and with lots of people over the past couple of months having to face additional daily challenges associated with flooding, moods can be low.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern and is thought to affect about 2 million people in the UK (www.nhs.uk). The symptoms of SAD recur regularly each winter and usually start between September and November, continuing until March or April and are similar to those for depression.  These include a lack of interest in life, lethargy, feelings of anxiety and an inability to cope.

Treatments for SAD include counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and antidepressants, which are used to treat other types of depression. SAD can also be treated with light therapy which for some people can improve mood considerably. Light therapy involves sitting in front of, or underneath a light box – a lamp in various designs with a very bright light.

SAD is thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year so light therapy can work by simulating the sunlight that’s missing during the darker winter months. The additional light encourages your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (the hormone that affects your mood).

Let’s welcome spring with open arms so we can all feel more motivated and bask in the longer days.

Sunshine

Tackling Loneliness

In the first project of its kind in the UK, Visbuzz is working with Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Halton Borough Council to install Visbuzz units in the homes of some of the area’s most isolated and vulnerable residents. The project also involves training volunteers from the CCG, local authority and local community groups such as The British Red Cross and Wellbeing Enterprises in how to use Visbuzz effectively in the users’ homes.

This is an amazing opportunity to influence positively the lives of isolated and lonely individuals. In previous posts I have discussed the importance of social interaction, meaningful contact and face to face communication and this project brings together all of these aspects, with a view to collecting and collating evidence to further support work in this field.

Loneliness is not simply a matter of connecting with people, it is about connecting with the people that matter.

For those of you who are new to Visbuzz, our vision is a world in which loneliness does not exist. Visbuzz connects you face to face easily and simply with those who are important to you; just by touching their picture. We have used the most up to date technology, making Visbuzz as simple to use as possible. Visbuzz allows you to connect to your loved ones through a computer tablet with one touch, reducing loneliness and increasing wellbeing.

Not only can Visbuzz help those who are isolated, vulnerable and lonely, but Visbuzz can also give their carers, family and friends, peace of mind and reduce their worry levels.

Loneliness can affect all of us at one time or another, and is not just someone else’s problem. Together, we can go further towards a world in which loneliness does not exist.

Is loneliness affecting you or someone you love? What ways have you found to combat loneliness? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.   

  http://www.thatmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/elderly-people_0.jpg

 

 

Improving your Mental Health

By on 02 17, 2014 in elderlymental health

There are many negative consequences of loneliness and isolation and one of these can be deterioration in our mental health and mental processes. A lack of social interaction and activity, and not taking an interest in our diet, can mean a decline in mood and mental wellness.

Foods which negatively affect mood and can increase feelings of anxiety include sugar, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate, while drinking water, eating vegetables, fruit and oil-rich fish can reduce stressful feelings and increase positive mood. I get it, we enjoy some of the things that aren’t good for us, but for how long? Alcohol is a depressant and the morning after we feel it, chocolate is great for the first hit, but how often do you wish you hadn’t finished the bar, layer, box? Getting more of the good stuff in your diet makes you feel good.

In addition to eating the right things, there is more and more research showing how exercise improves mental health and cognition. Exercise makes you feel better; you get a sense of achievement over getting started and proving you have the will power. And for most people exercise releases some nice helpful hormones which make you happy. It also increases blood flow to the brain, helping mental functioning. With some types of exercise you can also get to meet others and build relationships. Physical exercise has been found to ease depression, slow age-related memory loss and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms.

Anyone can do some form of exercise and feel the benefits. Actor Christopher Reeve made sure he exercised whenever he could even though he was a paraplegic. Twelve years after his fight with Chris Eubank resulting in six brain operations, boxer Michael Watson completed the London Marathon in 6 days, 2 hours, 27 minutes and 17 seconds. No one thought he would walk, write or talk again but he defied those expectations.

You don’t need to run a marathon to feel the benefits – just get moving.

Mental Health

 

 

Steve writes for myageingparent.com

Steve has written an article for www.myageingparent.com where he discusses the creation and benefits of Visbuzz. See the article below, and at http://www.myageingparent.com/keep-touch-using-technology/

Keep in touch using technology with Visbuzz.

  • Many of us worry about older relatives and ageing parents, especially if we live far from them and can’t easily pop in for a cup of tea or a quick chat. I felt just this way about my mum. I also felt guilty because I knew my mum’s loneliness was causing health problems, but I couldn’t see how things could change.Visbuzz 4
  • Loneliness has a real impact, not only on those concerned about ageing parents, but also the organisations and people who provide care and services to them. I am learning what many health professionals already accept; loneliness often leads to depression and physical illness, particularly in older people who may be less able to sustain their mental or physical wellbeing. If they are frail or have other conditions, it makes it harder for them to socialise, or be active
  • Some estimates suggest that 30% of GP call-outs are to elderly people, whose real need is for company. They need not live in a remote location; loneliness can be just as acute in our inner cities, where an older person may not know the people across the landing or next door
  • Since my Dad died a few years ago, my mum had become less mobile, less interested in travelling, or doing anything which interrupted her usual routine. Our family is spread around the country and, although we all did our best, no one could be with her all of the time. She is fiercely independent, wanting to stay in her own home, but the combination of isolation from her family and living alone meant she became lonely and her emotional and mental health began to suffer
  • Faced with the prospect of years of trying to balance the needs of my family, my business and my independent mother, I tried many ways to help her and also to reduce my guilt at not being able to be with her all the time. Carers and ccommunity workers cater for her physical needs, but it was her psychological and emotional needs I wanted to provide for. She wanted to be included and connected to those who mattered most to her. But how?
  • I noticed that regular visits from family resulted in great peaks of happiness, but then, once the family departed, deep troughs of unhappiness and depression. In reality, no visits at all may have been an appropriate way to keep her health stable. But we could not contemplate not seeing our mum, so we continued to visit regularly and my mum’s health deteriorated. She fell more often and her general health was wors,e which meant more hospital visits. She was often short tempered, especially with my brother, whom she saw most often, because she felt unwell much of the time. She became increasingly cantankerous . As this was happening, so my sense of guilt and worry deepened.  My two siblings felt the same. How could we make our mum happy AND keep her emotional and mental health stable?
  • It was obvious that finding a way to reduce her isolation would improve her general health, so I looked at several possibilities. These included Skype and Facetime. However, signing on to both of these is complex for people who are not used to working with computers and they were difficult for my mum to use. She found it hard to remember the processes to follow and was easily confused and frustrated
  • There was another problem too. My mum has arthritis in her hands and so using a keyboard, mouse or electronic keypad is difficult for her. That meant that none of the existing phone or PC programmes for video calls really met her needs. I tried setting up Skype on a computer in her home, which I controlled remotely. However, she disliked this arrangement, as she felt it interfered with her independence, as she had no control over accepting the video call or not. That was when I realised that it was up to me to find a solution as part of the package of support that was already available to her
  • The solution had to increase contact with my mum without taking away her independence. Also, it had to make sense for the whole family. I invented a way that my siblings and I could connect to my mum using a tablet computer. For my mum, using it is as simple as touching the screen. It has really enhanced my mum’s life, increasing her happiness and reducing her susceptibility to illness and bouts of depression
  • For my mum, the tablet computer is just like a picture frame, a part of the furniture and not a scary piece of technology
  • Research suggests that it takes 3 to 4 weeks to create a new habit, so I made sure I went to see my mum regularly for the first month, and we used the device together to speak to my sister and brother. This way she became accustomed to using the one touch device (I call it Visbuzz) and I was always there to help if she needed me
  • She soon became confident with Visbuzz. She could see that she controlled the technology, not the other way round, and that there was nothing to be worried about.  During this time my mum commented that she was having a little trouble with the arthritis in her hands and wasn’t always able to touch the screen with accuracy or firmly enough to use it comfortably, so I introduced a stylus to make the touch screen as accessible as possible
  • Now we can see her daily, we can include her in family gatherings, she can join us at mealtimes without travelling and without having any complex technology to worry about
  • Sometimes the things we need to solve problems are not out there. If they exist at all, they might not be available in our area, for example, voluntary organisations offering befriending services are not nationwide and statutory services may recognise the problems associated with loneliness, but simply don’t have the capacity to offer older people the company and support they want
  • So it’s up to us to think of ways around challenges like this. I have looked at how to address the challenges of modern living through the technology we now have. If you think of something that can help your ageing parent, the likelihood is it will help others as well, so don’t be afraid to come up with your own solutions
  • Many people are in the same situation with their parents as my siblings and me. We would love to hear about your experience. so please share them with us on our forum

Steve is the founder of Visbuzz. He has been a company CEO/MD for over 20 years and is an experienced coach and facilitator.  He works with senior team members in growing businesses to help them become better leaders making better decisions and achieving better results. Steve supports a number of charitable organisations and is also actively working towards ending loneliness If you’d like to know more about Visbuzz, either visit www.visbuzz.com, or call us on 03337 729637

Moving Forward with Technology

By on 02 10, 2014 in communicationTechnology

Technology is advancing at a tremendous rate, with new inventors beginning to think outside of the box on what is needed to enhance lives and our world around us. It seems that nothing is impossible – if you can think of it, you can make it. Innovation is all around us and can be seen on a daily basis. With social media (You Tube, Facebook, Twitter) it is cheaper and easier to go to market and raise your profile. No one is exempt.

Homeless man Leo Grand launched his own app to decrease the number of cars on the roads with a view to reducing CO2 emissions; there are heating systems for your home that can sense who you are and change the temperature of the house accordingly. What’s next – Drones to deliver your pizza? They may well be on the way.

We are using technology differently, with the expectation that we can get access to anything we want, instantly and with minimal effort. Not only can we get it now but we can get it personalised. Technology is becoming specific to the individual. Computer games track your preferences, and shape your game accordingly. When you are browsing the internet you see adverts based on your search history, recommendations based on your previous grocery shop. A walk through you local shopping centre leads to texts from the shops you are passing with offers just for you.

The opportunities are endless, and with new investments and advancements in all types of technology, the sky is the limit. Films like Robot and Frank (2012) where Frank gets his assistance robot to help him in several heists, the new Robocop movie (2013) and Her (2013) where Theodore falls in love with his newly purchased operating system, give us a peek at what the future could be like. Are we ready?

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Solutions to Loneliness

Last week, the Cardiff Blues Rugby Team donated 30 tickets to the Royal Voluntary Service (http://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/), for volunteers and older people to go to the game. For lonely people, it is not, as the Royal Voluntary Service highlighted, solutions to loneliness are not always about a cup of tea.

For some people, the solution to loneliness is tea and cake, just look at the work by Contact the Elderly (http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/), but for others this isn’t going to cut it. The solution needs to fit the individual otherwise the help being offered can lead to increasing loneliness rather than eradicating it.

In west London, they have numerous solutions to end loneliness, including Men’s Sheds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T8RTis6JGI) where it is easy to build relationships as those involved get to know each other through the DIY projects and work they do together. Age UK Milton Keynes (http://www.ageuk.org.uk/miltonkeynes/) offer coach trips for those over 55, and local churches can be found to offer a range of community services from mother and baby clubs to creative threads (knitting & needle work clubs).

There is also always the opportunity to learn new skills. Age UK highlight that there are now more than 600,000 learners over 60 in England alone. There are local computer clubs, evening courses, and courses available on line or through the internet. Future Learn (https://www.futurelearn.com/) offer a range of on-line courses from a range of universities free of charge. Sometimes, the support of a befriender, volunteer or family member may be required initially but people are never too old to learn!

The key to solving loneliness is building up meaningful relationships. As Kim Culbertson puts it: ‘People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world’.

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The benefits of face to face contact

There are so many ways to communicate now that we have a choice of how to connect with different people. You can still write a letter, (and oh how nice it is sometimes to receive hand written personal post), send an e-mail or use a telephone.

We now also have the ability to speak face to face with a video call through computers, laptops, tablets and phones.

With a video call, you can catch the non-verbal cues of communication that can be missed through a letter or a telephone call. We can see body language, the emotions portrayed on the face, an infectious smile or a sadness that needs soothing.

According to Professor Albert Mehrabian’s work on communication,

7% of the message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
38% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.
This means that if we communicate by letter or e-mail, we lose 93% of the message being portrayed – who hasn’t re-written that e-mail umpteen times because you don’t want them to misinterpret your meaning… With talk on the telephone we get more of the message, but still lose 55% of the message – the part that is portrayed through facial expression.

The benefits of a video call also mean we can join in. We can see little Sally playing the recorder, help Christopher with his crazy maths problem, see the scarf Nan knitted, and share the moment. Face to face communication helps people feel more included in the lives of others, and in turn enhances their own.

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Our 2014 resolutions – three weeks in

So as we approach January 21st and 3 weeks in to 2014, it is an opportunity to look at how our resolutions are going, or not…. Have you managed to be kinder, to eat less, drink less and exercise more? If you have, well done and keep going – you will already be feeling the benefits and will be well on your way to realising the outcomes you desire.  If you have only managed one of these things, then that’s good too – don’t give up.

I have come to the conclusion though, having thought about goals and milestones, that the key is not when we set them, or if we are managing to maintain them, but that we have them, and we keep going. Irrespective of our little failures, keep going.

If you are not getting to the gym as much as you’d hoped, or you are still giving in to the temptation of those left over chocolates from Christmas, I’m here to say it’s ok and you do not need to give yourself a hard time. I also wanted to let you know that it’s not too late. You do not need to start your healthier eating on a Monday, or your month of kindness on the 1st January. You can do it any time – today, or tomorrow, or even next week. The important thing is that you want to do it.

We also do not need to make life immensely difficult for ourselves, small changes can be the easiest to maintain – add fruit to your breakfast and lunch, add a smoothie to your afternoon routine, take fruit into work for colleagues instead of biscuits, walk round the block at lunchtime with a colleague – not only do you get out of the office but you can catch up with their news as well.

You can start your acts of kindness close to home – give someone a lift to work, invite the new person to lunch, take the neighbour’s dog for a walk, make an extra portion of your evening meal and take it round to your elderly neighbour. You haven’t missed the window of opportunity for change – it’s here and now.

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Loneliness

Loneliness is being talked about more and more within the media, among policy makers and by society as a whole. Has there been an increase in loneliness, or are we understanding and talking about the concept more? Maybe it’s a little of both.

Loneliness can affect the new mother who has no adult contact, the isolated grandmother whose last conversation was 4 days ago, the recently widowed husband who isn’t sure what routine means anymore, or the working professional who goes home to an empty house. No one is immune. Some people value their solitude, but when does solitude turn to loneliness? Families used to live in the same house, same street – at most a couple of streets away in the same village. Now we have cousins in Australia, sons and daughters in Scotland, brothers and sisters in America.

Popping round seems to no longer be an option, and individuals are turning to other avenues of support and contact where family once was. Even if you do have people around you, unless you feel in control and view these contacts as meaningful, you can still be lonely. Who wants to be talked at, made to feel inadequate or made to participate with an activity just because someone thinks it’s what you should do, what you need.

The key lies with being able to connect with those you want to, when you want to, how you want to. A coffee with Frank, a game of cards with Joyce, a film with Jenny, a chat with Aunty Catherine….

There are some fantastic options out there to reduce loneliness, with businesses, charities and communities becoming more focused on making sure the hard to reach, isolated and lonely are reached, and in ways that make them want to engage.

What would you like in place to make you less lonely? What ideas do you have to help others?

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Our Big Society

 In 2010, the Government promoted the Big Society as a way of putting power in people’s hands. The launch of The Big Society was to encourage and enable people to play a more active role in society and come together to improve their own lives and the lives of others.   Irrespective of political stance, the idea of supporting people who care about their community and want to get involved in improving the community around them cannot be a bad thing and comes in many guises.  

Ultimately, people care for, and want to help, other people. There are already a range of community based services, including those working towards reducing loneliness and increasing inclusion within society, and within these, volunteers play a key part. Volunteers have always been integral to delivering services on the ground. They are now taking a more central role within community services, with some organisations being made up of between as many as 50% and 100% volunteers. Through volunteering, people can gain a sense of civic responsibility, get the chance to realise and develop their skills and at the same time see the difference they make within their own community. 

As Lynne Berry, chair of the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing says, ‘Charities and voluntary organisations are in the business of hope, of changing the world for the better. They are also committed to challenging injustice and righting wrongs; they are about creating an inspiring future’. 

Without volunteers giving their time, energy, and resources, the Big Society would not be able to exist, and community care would look like a very different landscape.  

So, thank you to the volunteers out there, keep going. 

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Visbuzz moves forward

We moved further forward with our vision of a world in which loneliness doesn’t exist on Monday, when we spent a fantastic day with some of our Visbuzz Champions in Halton. The day was focussed on ensuring that the best possible service is delivered to the lonely and isolated in the community, enabling them to connect with those that matter most in their lives. At the touch of a picture, they can chat with their loved ones face to face and so communicate more frequently with ease.

We demonstrated that with one touch, Visbuzz can make individuals feel included and connected – a simple way to help end loneliness.

The testimonials from the day were heart-warming and encouraging, with Visbuzz being recognised as a vital tool to increase inclusion for the lonely, vulnerable and distressed in our communities. Watch this space!

Bringing healthcare home

Mobile health (mhealth) is the key word meaning to deliver healthcare through mobile communication devices. Using personal wireless technology, medical care and information can be brought to the home of the patient. Visbuzz has created a platform that turns a smart device into a communication portal to connect you with those who matter most. It allows friends, family, doctors and therapists to engage with those who find it difficult to make frequent journeys.

A big challenge for carers is making high-quality healthcare accessible and available to everyone. With an ageing population the key is to put the care back in the hands of the patient through preventative measures. Visbuzz gives patients the control and power to connect to those they need and want to, without the feeling of intrusion. With extra functionalities of leaving “text messages,” patients can schedule meetings with family members with a simple touch screen method. Giving friends and family of patients the key to unlocking the difficulties in staying in touch with relatives that live far away could be the answer to improving wellbeing, healthcare and life satisfaction.

The economic driver in using Visbuzz is the reduction of hospital visits, bed space and doctors time as well as long journeys from family and friends to stay in contact. Using the portable device to connect and stay connected to those who are most important will reduce these factors and improve the lives of patients and their families.

Get in contact today to find out more about how Visbuzz can change your relationship with your family today. Connect to those who are most important to you.

How can mHealth actually help me?

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“mHealth” is a key word that has been flying around cyber space for some time now with large corporations outlining how it will increase profits and decrease government expenditures, but what I really want to know is how can it benefit me and my family?

Indeed, the Federal Communications Commission’s mHealth Task Force has found that wireless and remote access to health records and electronic prescriptions alone could make $29 billion over the next decade. Undoubtably, on an enormous scale, mHealth is going to help healthcare systems worldwide improve the service to millions of people, but what about in my home and for my loved ones? What difference can be made?

Visbuzz has created a unique device that personalises communication that can be applied to improving healthcare. The mobile software system connects the primary user to the people that matter most to the, including, perhaps, their doctor. At her bedside the primary user has her complete support system; friends, family, doctor, nurse and therapist, all of whom can provide care and love any time of the day. This innovative method of communications is a well-needed replacement to the current and traditional care-home environment. Visbuzz identified unmet needs in the market where isolated individuals needed easy access to their loved ones without the difficulties of using complex technology. Results have been positive from the pilot studies that healthcare organisations across the UK are embracing the solution, as well as individuals with personal needs of their own.

Personalised mHealth looks at each person in their own right with their needs as the foremost important factor in their care. Visbuzz creates an environment where the primary user can connect to those who matter the most, in a place they are comfortable and without the stressors of technology as a burden. These traits have the potential for doctors to implement continuous monitoring, lending insights to lifestyle habits and dynamic physiological changes to improve the health of the primary user. Of course Visbuzz is not just a medical advantage with the use of doctors, research continually finds that recovery is much more likely when the patient is happy and connected to friends and family.

Get back in touch with your loved ones today, talk to Visbuzz.

mHealth: a new vision for healthcare

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Whilst new reports say UK economic growth revised up to 0.7%, the long road to recovery still remains a critical challenge. One area where there is certain room for improvement in within the healthcare market. The 2013/2014 budget for healthcare is £95 billion, and increasing each year, calculating 18% of the total government spending. It is therefore imperative that we look at ways in which we can cut healthcare costs. We are in a spiral of healthcare costs as expectations of patient’s are high and financial resources are tight. However there is help at hand in the form of mobile applications and technology.

The modest costs of implementing mHealth applications could significantly lower healthcare costs across the UK and the world, resulting in happier healthier patients and more financial leeway to look at preventative medicine. Currently only a small amount of government funding has been allocated to mHealth and social health where patients can access healthcare advice and information from their phone and tablets. Being connected to ones doctor using an electronic device and reducing the need for face to face interaction for simple check ups or questions will inevitably reduce the time and costs for the patient and also for the healthcare organisation. A report by The Boston Consulting Group and Telenor Group found that costs relating to data collection in healthcare organisations could be reduced by 24% when using mHealth. They found that mobile devices could be used for remote diagnosis, speeding up of processes, avoiding duplication and saving between 20-30% in administrative fees.

However, there are the cynics about introducing mHealth as a primary method of communication between a patient and their doctor. Willa Field, Chair of the HIMSS Board of Directors, pointed out that elderly people are unlikely to adopt new technology without incentive and there are privacy and security concerns that go on alongside. It is important to recognise these limitations and find a way that will improve the service for all users.

Visbuzz is a mobile technology device built onto a portable tablet with a primary aim to connect people with those who matter most to them. It leaps over the hurdle of questions about incentives, understanding technology, costs and security through being built for one purpose only: to connect to your loved ones. Steve McNulty originally built Visbuzz to speak to his mother on a more regular basis without the complexities of explaining technology and having a high premium price to go with. This unique combination of factors that Visbuzz has to offer will largely contribute to reducing healthcare costs, improving communication and overall wellbeing of the primary user.

Please get in contact today to find out more about Visbuzz and how it can help you and your loved ones.

The Impact of Technology on Healthcare

Mobile communications and multimedia technology are playing significant roles in giving patients responsibility to their own healthcare, which in turn improves adherence to prescribed medications. With regards to mHealth and adherence trends, Aunia Grogan, CEO of Atlantis Healthcare said, “Technology is at the heart of what we do,” in developing treatment adherence. “The strategic use of technology is critical to effectively deliver mass personalisation, ensuring the right patient receives the right message at the right time, in the right way.”

Research has found that non-adherence is an individualised belief of the patient about their illness and their prescribed medications. The first step in changing the behaviour of the patient is to initially reframe the beliefs. Grogan says, “mHealth is increasingly important to channel and deliver relevant and meaningful interventions that can drive long-term behaviour change.” However, she emphasised that for the treatment to be successful, the patient needs to be actively engaged with his or her own recovery. For many patients it can be difficult to access their doctor on a regular basis, increasing the likelihood of their noncompliance due to not being properly informed about their medications. It is important that we use the technological devices we have available for the benefit of patients who have difficulty in accessing healthcare.

A new technological device available on the market now is Visbuzz, a game changer within the communications space. Visbuzz is a tablet application that gives people the opportunity to connect with those who matter most to them without the fuss of technology. Whilst multimedia technology is the driving force behind Visbuzz, the primary user does not need to be competent in technology at all. In fact, to call someone it is as easy as pressing the contacts picture on the screen. This ties in extremely well this improving adherence in those who are reliant upon medication but find it difficult to travel to healthcare organisations. Using Visbuzz, patients can communicate with their doctors to manage their healthcare program and improve their happiness and wellbeing.

To make the difference for one of your family members, contact Visbuzz to understand more about how easy it can be for them to connect to those who matter most.

The Healthcare Revolution – Will you ride the wave?

The healthcare system is undergoing a serious and well needed re-vamp and update using digital and mobile technology. Will you ride the wave of the revolution?

When emails came to our attention in around 1993 I was quick to adopt the new technology, although somewhat alien I could see the potential long-term usage of connecting to people through electronic letters rather than picking up the phone for a quick question. Now, two decades on, there are over 3 billion email accounts and it has quickly become one of the most efficient methods of communication. In 2013 we are continually developing new technological applications to help our everyday lives, and the new big area of development is healthcare. Adopting this new and seemingly alien technology may seem difficult now, but those who do will reap the rewards in the years to come, healthcare professionals and patients alike.

Traditional healthcare organisations use pen and paper to record notes, long waiting lists for simple tests and home visits for check ups. The medical staff are overworked and underpaid, tired and angry at the governments, and are looking at new innovative ways to improve patient care. Leading healthcare organisations are guiding the sector into the future of care through technology and transformation to create a more effective, efficient and reliable healthcare service.

mHealth, as defined by Professor Istepanian as the use of “emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare”, is a common word found amongst healthcare blogs and magazines. People are looking up and smelling the roses about the new advances in healthcare to see how it can benefit themselves and those they love, but it can be difficult to choose out of the hundreds available.

Visbuzz can provide you with a unique approach to personalised care that meets the needs of you and those who are most important. Visbuzz is a simple interface device that brings communication to life through video calling tailored to those that are technologically hesitant. I know the feeling of heavy guilt when I can’t pick up the call from my Mum when I am busy through the day. I know there has to be a balance between your own life and those you care about. Giving freedom and simultaneous control to her through scheduled calling and messaging applications takes away the cha