Author Archives: Steve McNulty

Visbuzz selected as a London Venture to help transform delivery of public services in London

Visbuzz are excited to announce that we have been selected by EY, in partnership with London Councils to be part of their London Ventures programme.

The London Ventures programme is an initiative designed to transform the delivery of public services in London. Developed and managed by EY in partnership with London Councils, the programme brings together private sector companies, investors and local authorities to drive innovation and cost efficiencies.

Through new concepts, or ‘Ventures’, London Ventures instils a collaborative approach in public services delivery. It helps local authorities work together, using their combined weight to drive better commercial deals with suppliers. It also encourages cross-sector partnerships that provide positive outcomes for local authorities, suppliers and investors alike.

Visbuzz was interested in the London Ventures Programme as a way of raising awareness of the issues surrounding loneliness and our simple solution as a way of tackling them. Being part of the Programme is very exciting for Visbuzz, and helps us to move further forward in our vision of a world in which loneliness does not exist. Through the work of the London Ventures programme, we can build effective partnerships and connect even more isolated people to those who matter most to them.

London Ventures is overseen by the Capital Ambition Board which brings together all 32 London boroughs and the City of London. London Councils represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. EY combines leading public and private sector practice with an understanding of diverse needs, focusing on building organisations’ capability to deliver improved services.

London Councils Logo

The Campaign to End Loneliness

Are you passionate about reducing loneliness in later life?

Do you enjoy informing and educating others, meeting new people and making new contacts?

If so, why not become an Ambassador for the Campaign to End Loneliness?

They are looking for people from across the UK to help us raise awareness about loneliness and what can be done about it. All you need is to be passionate about the issue and happy to speak in public.

The Campaign to End Loneliness is a network of national, regional and local organisations and people working together through community action, good practice, research and policy to create the right conditions to reduce loneliness in later life. They were launched in 2011, are led by five partner organisations and work alongside 2,000 supporters, all tackling loneliness in older age.

Find out more about becoming an ambassador here.

What The Campaign to End Loneliness want to change

The Campaign to End Loneliness aims to reduce loneliness in older age by creating the right policy and funding conditions for groups and individuals working to address the issue. They work with a wide range of organisations to seek the following change:

1. Higher quality, and more effective, services and activities

2. Better use of existing support, especially by the most lonely

3. More commissioning and/or development of services and activities targeting loneliness

What they do

Evidence-based campaigning to commissioners: Much of their time is spent campaigning: communicating with, convincing and persuading those who make choices about health and care spending to tackle and prevent loneliness. They provide a strong voice to commissioners of services and activities at a local and national level. They invite their supporter network of 2000+ organisations and people to campaign with them.

Facilitate learning on the front line: The Campaign to End Loneliness offers organisations who want to tackle loneliness a chance to learn from each other. They provide the latest research, opportunities to meet through events, and regular information to share the motivation and momentum behind this issue.

Building the research base:They gather together and offer to policy makers and practitioners the latest evidence on loneliness and isolation. They draw on research through our Research Hub which engages academics and specialists from across the world. With these academic partners, they work to make new research as relevant and practical as possible for organisations that are working directly to support older people, or making commissioning decisions.

 

The Age of No Retirement Update

Destroying Age Barriers, Shattering Myths & Stereotypes.

The Age of No Retirement in 2014 in London identified 27 ideas that needed further exploration if we are to change the narrative to a more positive view of living longer.

At the people’s history museum in Manchester in April 2015, The Age of No Retirement took a big step further and converted talk into action. The ideas from London were co-designed into 22 radical prototypes for quick and immediate action.

These prototypes were a result of the collaboration of 750+ individuals and 250+ organisations with a common vision to rethink a future where we live longer, more fulfilling lives. The prototypes cover work, community, media, language, transport, health, education, multi-generational integration, money and much more. Read them in full here. Be inspired by them. Which ones would you most like to see implemented and which ones would you like to be involved in?

19 PROTOTYPES IN PLAY

‘The Age of No Retirement’ network has been very busy behind the scenes – moving the co-designed prototypes forward. Nearly all of the prototypes (19 out of 22) now have teams of people and organisations supporting them at a local level.

More than 2200 new visitors to the website have registered more than 3500 ‘Likes’ since we uploaded the 22 prototypes only three weeks ago.

The top 5 prototypes leading the way are:

  • Value of Older Workers (312 Likes)
  • Learning to go Into Retirement (302 Likes)
  • Humans in Tandem (285 Likes)
  • Step Change (281 Likes)
  • What I Want To Do When I Grow Up (266 Likes)

They have prototype teams now working in Manchester, Hull, London, SE England and Wales. The teams include co-designers from business, technology, government, design, 3rd sector, entrepreneurs, academics, the media and citizens. Organisations currently involved include – Age Action Alliance; Age Friendly Cities; Barclays; BBC; Chapter3; CIPD; Design Council; Future Flowers; Festival of Ideas; Gransnet; High50; Manchester City Council; Manchester Metropolitan University; Silver Concierge; Give2Gain Timebank; TUC; Vivo – to name just a few.

They will be sharing all the details on their website shortly so you can feed in ideas and follow progress.

Prototypes on which they are still looking for collaboration are:

  • Multigenerational Panel (B2)
  • Age Champion (D4)
  • NHS Co-op (D6i)

In the meantime, ‘The Age of No Retirement’ is all about co-design and collaboration – so please get in touch and they can introduce you to the various prototype teams.

Watch this space for our storytelling feature which will be coming soon – where we will share the learnings from across the prototypes as well as news and inspiring stories which are helping to destroy ageism and shatter ageist myths and stereotypes.

Taonr

Contact the Elderly: A Lifeline of Friendship

Contact the Elderly organise monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over, who live alone with little or no support from friends, family or statutory services. The afternoons are full of fun and laughter and make a real difference to the lives of their older guests.

Supported by a network of volunteers, the charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone. Offering a regular and vital friendship link every month.

Each older person is collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same which means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.

The tea parties are a real lifeline of friendship for our older guests who have little or no contact with family or friends. They bring people of all ages together, develop fulfilling friendships and support networks, and give everyone involved something to look forward to each month.

The group activity encourages:

  • Inter-generational links
  • Friendships to develop between older group members and volunteers

 

The groups:

  • Operate at weekends, when most community services for older people are not available. Moreover, Sunday has been highlighted to us by older guests as being a particularly lonely day of the week.
  • Are kept purposely small, and they meet in the welcoming environment of someone’s home.

Increasingly, research highlights the link between loneliness and ill-health in later life, including depression, certain heart conditions and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The Story Behind Contact the Elderly

In the early 1960’s, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, met an older lady who lived near him in Marylebone. She had no electricity in her house and was entirely alone. He discovered from the Welfare Department that she was one of many hundreds in the borough in a similar position.

Together with a few friends he decided to do something about it. They visited twelve older people whose names they had been given by the Marylebone Welfare Department and invited them to come to Hampton Court on the first Sunday in March 1965.

From this small start, Trevor decided to set up further groups and in September 1965 they were granted charitable status to enable them to raise funds to advertise for volunteers.

Trevor says: “I received a Christmas card from one of the old ladies simply saying ‘at last I have something to live for!’ and I think this more than anything else made me realise how much more we could do and so we decided to set up other groups.”

This small act of kindness grew into what is today a national charity with groups in every region of England, as well as Wales and Scotland. Trevor is still involved as the charity’s Chairman, and the group he started in 1965 is still going strong.

If you would like to learn more about Contact the Elderly, including how to become a volunteer or a guest, click here.

Teaandcake

What was it I came up here for?

Many of us have those moments where you walk upstairs to get something, get to the landing and have no idea what it was you went upstairs for! We put the kettle on, get our favourite mug out ready for a nice cup of tea, only to come back into the kitchen an hour later with the tea still unmade. Someone gives us directions and within seconds we can’t remember whether it is left or right at the post box.

The causes of forgetfulness are numerous. They run from being overwhelmed with responsibility and demands to not paying close enough attention – we simply didn’t “hear” the instructions in the first place. Other times we are so distracted by everything that is going on around us that we are on overload and have too much to remember and can’t. But when should we worry that it is becoming more serious?

Forgetfulness results from changes in the brain and can be a normal part of aging or a symptom of another condition or disease. When you experience forgetfulness, you may find it harder to recall information or events, learn new things, or form new memories. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems. Abnormal forgetfulness isn’t only about failing to remember; it’s more complex than that.

Be concerned when you see a pattern of deteriorating functioning, not just correctable incidents of forgetting. Loss of previous abilities or negative changes in long-established, characteristic behaviour and personality patterns indicates a need to seek help. Understanding normal forgetfulness can help us adjust more gracefully to the challenges of healthy aging. We need to give ourselves and our loved ones more time to recall events, names, and words as we age, because “normal” recall can take longer. Knowing that can help us plan to build in extra time for certain events or tasks.

http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/forgetfulness

http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Memory-Loss-and-Dementia

http://www.ehow.com/about_5137621_causes-forgetfulness.html#ixzz32X7tjZtD

http://psychcentral.com/lib/when-to-worry-about-forgetfulness/00013100

Mr-Forgetful

Safety at Home

We all need to be aware of the potential dangers we can face while at home, and these dangers can be increased for those 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

 

Accessible and fun days out in London

By on 04 27, 2015 in ActivitiesAdventure

With Spring officially sprung, the sun shining (somewhere!) and the desire to perhaps venture outside….  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/

Age Friendly Cities

I recently visited a town which it seemed had been specifically built for cars, with pathways and crossings miles away from shop entrances, zig-zagging around dual carriage ways and roundabouts, requiring a much longer walk than a sensible a to b route. This article from The Guardian filled me hope that things are changing, and places may be becoming more accessible.

Here is my abridged version:

“Stand at the traffic lights on a major street in any city. Now, when the green man invites you, try to cross the road. Unless you have the acceleration of an Olympic sprinter, the chances are that the beeps will stop, the green man will flash and cars will rev impatiently before you’ve reached the sanctuary of the other side. Especially if you have a disability, are pushing a buggy or laden with shopping. Or are old. The Department of Health says the average walking speed demanded by pedestrian crossings is 1.2 metres a second, while the average speed of the older pedestrian is just 0.7 to 0.9 metres per second.

About half of people over 65 face problems getting outdoors; for them the city is an inhospitable place, with its cluttered streets, uneven pavements, poor lighting and signage. Details – like the bus driver who moves off before you have time to sit down, or doesn’t park close enough to the kerb – have a huge impact on their sense of confidence and safety. But if they stay in – in “self-imposed house arrest”, as Chris Phillipson, professor of sociology and social gerontology at the University of Manchester, calls it – their physical and mental health is liable to deteriorate, and they’re prone to isolation and depression.

In 2006, the World Health Organisation set up its Age-Friendly Cities project, which shows how the physical and social environment can help people “age actively”. Now 258 cities and communities have signed up to what has become a global network, with Manchester in 2010 the first British city to join.

In the newly reopened Whitworth gallery all the guides are trained to be “dementia-friendly”. Manchester’s Band on the Wall club is reclaimed every couple of months for clubbers over 50. Then there are age-friendly allotments, with raised beds to make them accessible to people in wheelchairs, age-friendly gardens (no steps), and in Newcastle the “vitality bench” (arm-rests that help you get up, and warm-to-touch materials).

Other countries are innovating, too. Lyon’s “cyclopousse” is a delightful pedicab transport service tailored for older people. The Adeg and Kaiser supermarket chains in Germany have wider aisles, non-skid floors, lower shelves, brighter lighting, larger price labels and magnifying labels hanging from chains.”

Changes put in place to make cities more accessible and friendly for older people, mean they will be more accessible and friendly for all of us. Let’s hope more cities and communities get involved! 
Guardian

Age Action Alliance Blog: The Age of No Retirement

Following on from the incredible success of ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ event at the OXO Tower Bargehouse in London on 1-2 October last year, ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is visiting Manchester on 27-29 April.

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is a live interactive forum that brings together the young and the old; the employers and the employed; the policy makers and academics; the designers and innovators; and the artists and thought leaders – into a collaborative space to discover and unlock the opportunities inherent within a society where people are living longer than ever before.

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Over two days at the Bargehouse last year more than 500 people from 200 organisations explored 27 topics across 8 themes – from product/ service design to work & employment to intergenerational integration – with the objective of breaking down the age barriers and creating a society that we all aspire to live in.

Representatives from Barclays, Google, GSK, Aviva, BT, Microsoft, Capita, Getty Images and Mercer rolled up their sleeves with members of the public, small business owners, entrepreneurs, designers and charities to discover some amazing opportunities. Opportunities for intergenerational collaboration; for community redesign; for lifelong learning; and for fuller working lives.

 In Manchester, we are going to push the boundaries even further. We are not just going to come up with amazing ideas – we are going to convert ideas into action. On Days 1 and 2 we are going to co-create 24 implementable project prototypes which together will represent the most impactful recipe for age-positive social change the UK has ever seen.

 On Day3 we are going to share the scores of stories from people and organisations across the UK who are driving age-positive change within their communities. Leading the way will be the shining example being set by Barclays, and how over-50 customers and employees are changing the way Barclays thinks and behaves in the most inspiring of ways.

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 This is not about ‘old’. It is about getting older, growing up, gaining experience. It is about all of us. It is about YOU!

 We cannot turn our backs on and continue to ignore the amazing talent and experience that is built up over decades and is possessed by the more than a third of the entire UK population who are over 50.

Join ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ movement for age-positive change. Together we will redesign our communities, workplaces and lives along age-neutral lines, and with a hope and optimism rarely seen in this sector.

Register your place for the Co-Design Labs and the Barclays story now via Eventbrite. Participation is free.

Eventbrite booking: https://ageofnoretirementmanchester.eventbrite.co.uk

Overview of ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ Manchester, 27-29 April: View here.

Impact Newspaper from the Bargehouse event 1-2 October w2014: View here.

Blog Article and disclaimer information: http://ageactionalliance.org/the-age-of-no-retirement-comes-to-manchester/

Contact email:

act@ageofnoretirement.org

The Written Word

By on 03 30, 2015 in Activitiescommunication

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. See more here, with many more stories online.

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!

Boy_Writing

Beat the Blues

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. Sometimes it can be the things we think will pick us up, which actually bring us down!

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 whole 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 – there are plenty of at home, chair activities to get started: http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/fitness/Pages/sitting-exercises-for-older-people.aspx 

 

Too much tech?

We here at Visbuzz love technology, and advocate for digital inclusion. We provide an extremely simple way for people who don’t use computers to make and receive video calls to and from their family, friends and health care professionals. Visbuzz can make a huge difference to the lives of people who use it, particularly if they feel lonely or isolated.

In contrast to those individuals who don’t use computers or smart phones, are those of us who may use technology using it too much?

For Lent, I decided to give up playing games on my phone. I thought that it would be a good idea, and I had been noticing that the amount of time spent on various different versions of bubble this and candy that could be better used, and it would give my hands and eyes a bit of a break from the small screen. In giving up the games,  I have realised that I used the them as a distraction much more than I thought. This has led to many moments of ‘well, what do I do now?’.

In search of other more peaceful, creative and in the moment activities, I have found a number of different ways to fill this time and would like to suggest some, either for you to move away from that hand held technology, or simply as nice things to do with your time.

Colouring in: A brilliant way to spend some time.. You can use pencils, pens, paints, crayons, chalks and charcoal. You can use books for children, books for adults or print some templates from the internet (if you don’t have a printer at home your local library should be able to help).  There are also ‘mandalas’ which are used to accomplish relaxation and focus your mind. They are simple geometric shapes with no beginning or end.

mandalas

An example of a mandala.

Getting close to nature: Going for walks and taking in the surroundings can be very therapeutic and calming. Looking at trees, and up to the sky can give you a very different perspective on life. Why not try being more hands on – even the most un-green fingered individual can achieve a wonderful feeling growing some cress on the windowsill and then adding to an egg sandwich! If you feel you are up for even more of a challenge, you could get yourself a window box or  clear a part of the garden to create your own growing piece of art.

So, switch off those electronic games, and go and do something different instead.

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 the radio or 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

If you want to build up slowly, or are anxious about getting active, why not start by involving the help of others.

In Copenhagen, being 97 is no barrier to enjoying cycling with people being pedalled around by volunteers! Find out more here.

Copenhagen

 

NHS England News: Dementia Announcement

By on 03 02, 2015 in communityDementia

 

We share a news article from NHS England: Original Article

A new vision for dementia, announcement by the Prime Minister, has been welcomed by NHS England’s Clinical Director for Dementia Professor Alistair Burns.

On Saturday 21st February, David Cameron announced the next phase of the government’s “challenge on dementia” programme.

He pledged £300m of investment into dementia research over the next parliament, a new global fund on dementia, one million NHS staff to be trained in dementia, and faster assessments, better care for all. Nationally, initial dementia assessments will take place in an average of six weeks, followed by better support post-diagnosis.

Professor Burns said: “Awareness of dementia is at its highest level and to have 1 million Dementia Friends shows the enormous strides we have taken in the last three years.

“We are beginning to change the way society respects and treats people with dementia. We can change the lives of tens of thousands of people for the better if we can continue to raise awareness, invest in the search for new treatments, and most importantly improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers.”

The number of people being diagnosed with dementia has been steadily rising and as of January an estimated 398,597 people had been added to the dementia register, up from 250,000 in 2009.

Since March the numbers have jumped from 349,000 with between 5,000 and an extra 10,000 people a month now being added to the dementia register.

Announcing the dementia vision, Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “Dementia is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, and I am proud that we are leading the world in fighting it.

“Because of the growing strength of our economy, we can invest in research and drug-development, as well as public understanding, so we defeat this terrible condition and offer more hope and dignity for those who suffer.

“That way, we can help make Britain a country that offers security in retirement for all.”

He also announced the creation of a new global fund on dementia, which would see investors from the public and private sectors unite to fund a range of research projects.

The benefits of owning a pet

By on 02 23, 2015 in ActivitiesDogs

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

We share the book blog from The Guardian: Where are all the grandparents in modern fiction?

Considering how important grandparents are in many modern families – plugging the gaps and picking up the pieces when the stresses and strains on working parents get too much – isn’t it surprising that we don’t find more of them in contemporary fiction?

There is of course no shortage of memorable grandparents in children’s literature, beaming benignly – or occasionally malevolently – from the bookshelves: from the four grandparents in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, via Grannie Island and Granma Mainland in Mairi Hedderwick’s Katie Morag series to David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny, grandparents seem a far richer source of inspiration than boring old parents.

But look around current adult fiction and there’s little writing about grandparents as grandparents. You can find forever-young baby boomer grandmas falling in love at 60 and novels about spirited older women finding self-fulfilment, but novels about grandparents’ relationships with their grandchildren seem in short supply. One rare exception is Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson’s magical The Summer Book. Jansson (of Moomintroll fame) here turns her shrewd gaze on the interaction between an elderly grandmother and her six-year-old granddaughter, spending the summer together on an island in the Finnish archipelago. The book is beautiful, astute and tells us a lot both about childhood and about old age.

When my novel, Sylvia Garland’s Broken Heart, which examines the relationship between a grandmother and her young grandson, was published at the end of 2014, my expectations were low: I hadn’t published a novel for 20 years, my (excellent) publishers are a small independent house and a number of mainstream commercial publishers had previously rejected the book, telling me that it didn’t fit on their lists. So I was quite unprepared for the extraordinary reactions that began almost as soon as the book came out.

In Sylvia Garland’s Broken Heart, Sylvia’s bond with her grandson is threatened when his parents split up, driving her to extreme measures. I was invited on to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4, together with Jane Jackson of the Bristol Grandparents Support Group, which helps those denied contact with their grandchildren after family breakdown. I was quite panicked at the thought of my fiction side-by-side with real-life heartbreak. During the programme, I learned that a million British children have no contact at all with their grandparents because of some form of family rift. After our discussion, Woman’s Hour received so many emails from listeners with their own stories that they opened the programme the next day with a family therapist talking about the issues raised.

Sobered, I went about my business (including getting on with my next novel). A couple of weeks later, I was interviewed by a journalist who told me her own story of a family breakup triggering a loss of contact with grandchildren. Then a neighbour who had enjoyed the book told me about the predicament of a close friend, denied contact with her beloved grandchildren after their parents divorced. Real life, it seemed, was starting to outstrip fiction.

Last month I gave a reading at JW3, London’s new Jewish community centre. Grandparents were invited to come along and join a discussion of the themes raised by the book. Although the weather was cold enough to deter a much younger audience, the room was full and one after another the audience opened up with their own experiences. One woman, a grandma to 11 grandchildren, reduced many of us to tears with the desperate story of how her ex-son-in-law had denied her access to his children following the death of the children’s mother, her own daughter.

My humorous look at a warring mother-in-law and daughter-in-law suddenly felt rather light-hearted. It was a relief when another member of the audience spoke up: “You know the bit where Sylvia gives her grandson ice cream even though her daughter-in-law doesn’t allow it? I’ve done that.” There was a ripple of recognition around the room.

GP

Go on, set some goals.

By on 02 09, 2015 in Adventuregoals

It can be difficult to sit and think about what we actually want from life, and it is sometimes easier to stay with what we know and within what we feel comfortable. Goal setting can be a personal way of helping you to realise where you want to go in life, and achieve the things you want, turning your (possibly unknown) desires and dreams into reality.

Goals can be as big or as small as you want, however it works better if the goals are realistic. You can have a completely different list for ‘win the lottery’. We can look at that another week!

It may be your goal to meet more people. In order to achieve this, we would need to identify the steps needed to reach this end goal. They may be:

1. To check if there is a local book group

2. Find out when and where they are meeting

3. Plan how to get to the location on time

4. Speak to at least 2 people before you leave at the end of the evening

All of these steps are achievable with a little planning, and in case you get cold feet, give yourself a deadline.  This is a very simple example, and goals will be very specific to you and what you want for life. Some of you may want to go on a tour of the world, or become a famous writer and it’s important to know that even the biggest of goals can be broken down into smaller achievable steps.

The key is taking the time to think about where you are and where you want to be, and then you can work out how to get there. Having your goals written down is a big part of achieving them. You can monitor progress, amend them depending on any changes in circumstances, and check off your steps as you complete them.

To keep you on track and accountable, you can even write to your future self! This can also be a great way of keeping track of your goals. You can write down your goals for the future in a letter to yourself and re-open it in a 1, 5 or 10 years time. There is even a website that will send you your typed letter by e-mail whenever you choose: Future Me 

So why not have a go at some goal setting – you never know where you might end up!

Goals

Promising Approaches to Reducing Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life

By on 02 02, 2015 in communityloneliness

On Monday 26th January, the Campaign to End Loneliness launched their brand new guide on what works to address loneliness in older age.

‘Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience.  Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity’. Find out more about loneliness here.

Developed by the Campaign to End Loneliness and Age UK, Promising Approaches to Reducing Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life draws on experience, expertise and evidence to set out a new framework for understanding how to tackle loneliness and isolation.

The Campaign to End Loneliness and Age UK have produced a report that offers practical answers to what works in tackling loneliness. In the report, the Campaign to End Loneliness argue that leaders in health and social care must recognise the individual’s experience of loneliness and should not seek a ‘one size fits all solution’.

They set out a new framework for understanding how to tackle this multi-faceted problem, presenting a range of projects and examples from around the country.

This guide can help ‘commissioners, funders and deliverers of services that support older people to identify the areas of need in your communities, and support you as service providers, in the delivery of more effective loneliness interventions’. To find out more, and see how you can involved in this campaign, visit the Campaign to End Loneliness website here.

CtoL

The Age of No Retirement: Update

Barclays signs up as The Age of No Retirement’s first core member

Barclays Bank is the first Core Corporate Partner of ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ movement. Next week they will begin working with Barclays to rethink, rework and act upon the one of the biggest social challenges facing Britain today. They will deliver impactful projects and create incredible stories that clearly illustrate the benefits of age equality and intergenerational working & living.

These stories will be further amplified by drawing from the capabilities, learnings and inspiration from across ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ network. Details of the Barclays projects will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Manchester Event

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ movement for positive social change continues to develop, innovate and expand. The second design-led participatory event will build on the enormous success of the Bargehouse event in London held in October, and extend the exploration of this important social issue to the people and organisations in Northern England.

  • 27-29 April 2015 at the People’s History Museum, Manchester. The People’s History Museum retells the socio-political history of the working people of England and, as such, is the perfect venue for the next ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ event.
  • 2 days of impassioned discussions and design-led exploration PLUS a third day of learnings & storytelling from across ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ projects.
  • 6 themes, 24 debates, 300 organisations, 600 people, 1000′s of insights & ideas.
  • THE must-attend event of the social movement calendar.
  • Put it in your diaries. Booking via Eventbrite opens in 2 weeks.
  • For organisations: £20pp per half-day session. For the public: £5pp per half-day session.
  • Sponsored by Barclays and Calouste Gulbenkian & Joseph Rowntree foundations.
  • Sponsorship packages still available.

Want to be a debater or sponsor? Email ‘The Age of No Retirement?’: act@ageofnoretirement.org

In the NEWS

‘The Age of No Retirement?’ has had a busy time in the media of late. On 19th December they were interviewed by both Sky News Radio (on the hidden value of older workers) and The Independent (as part of their coverage of Selfridges’ “Bright Old Things” exhibition). And, last Friday (16th January) they were on BBC Breakfast LIVE TV! The Friday show was the culmination of their week-long series on #Living Longer.

Word is spreading, interest is building. ‘The Age of No Retirement?’ is beginning to drive a fresh new way of thinking in the ageing sector – exploring opportunities (not the problems) is a society where people live longer – with hope and optimism.

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The January Blues: How to lift your mood.

The festive season is over, it’s back to work for some and it is still dark outside – no wonder January feels like the gloomiest month of the year. Add to that freezing weather, feelings of loneliness and failed resolutions, and it’s no surprise that lots of us are feeling out of sorts and low. The good news is that it takes less effort than you think to lift your mood. Here are the three reasons from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthyliving/mood.htm why you might have those January blues and ways to beat them.

1) Weight gain over Christmas Studies have shown we can gain as much as five to seven pounds over the Christmas week alone. How to turn it around: Festive weight gain doesn’t have to be permanent, according to Karl Simpson, Fitness Manager at the Virgin Active Health Club in Broadgate.

‘Following a sensible healthy eating plan with exercise, most people can lose approximately 2lb per week – that’s nearly all your Christmas weight gain in three weeks. Cut back to three smaller meals a day and two snacks equalling around 1500 calories per day (2000 calories if you’re a man).’

If you’re desperate to lose the weight at a faster rate, try the following:

• cut out treats such as your morning coffee and muffin

• reduce sweet snacks to once a week

• limit alcohol because it restricts the number of calories that can be burned off.

2) New Year over-analysis Self-reflection at this time of year can make us all focus on what’s wrong with our life, leading us to set unrealistic goals to become our ‘ideal’ person. Small wonder, then, that a third of us lose our resolve to keep our resolutions within a week. How to turn it around: Although self-improvement is important, going overboard can backfire. To lift your morale and gain perspective, life coach Fiona Harrold suggests making a list of everything that is already great with your life, taking stock of all that you feel grateful for right now.

‘It’s healthy to feel motivated to make changes at the beginning of a New Year,’ says Fiona, ‘but avoid the mistake of only focusing on what’s missing in your life. Balance your drive for change with an appreciation of the here-and-now and your sense of disillusionment will go.

3) It’s cold and dark outside Seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues, is thought to affect up to two million people in the UK as the lack of natural sunlight leads us to feel depressed and lethargic. How to turn it around: There is hope: the days are already getting longer, and January averages less rain and more hours of sunshine than December. Boost your mood by making a lunchtime walk a daily habit. Just 30 minutes of natural light, even weak winter sunlight, can be enough to make you feel happier and energised. Don’t let the wintry weather put you off your exercise routine either.

‘When it’s cold and dark outside, it is much more tempting to curl up on the sofa than to put on your tracksuit and brave the elements,’ says fitness coach Kristoph Thompson. ‘But exercise leaves you happier and more motivated. ‘Always have a backup plan so if your outside exercise is impossible due to weather conditions, you know what to do instead. Swimming makes a good plan B if it’s too rainy to run. ‘Where possible, aim to exercise during daylight hours, whether it’s before work, in your lunch break or at the weekend.’

Age Action Alliance: Ageing and growing old are not the same thing

Old Age creeps up on you oh so stealthily then suddenly WHAM! – it hits you like a steam train.

At first, we just notice we groan a bit as we get up (or down) from the chair – so tend to sit for longer; then we might huff and puff walking up the stairs – so we take the escalator instead; carrying the shopping is hard work – so we wheel a trolley and park as close as we can to the supermarket door. Basically, we do less and try to make life easier.

Denial is a strong human trait, none of us likes to think we are getting older or admit to any decline in our abilities or levels of activity. Yet nature deals us a cruel triple whammy as every year our muscles waste, bone density reduces and our joints become stiffer.  Sounds gloomy, but it doesn’t have to be like this.

We have all seen photographs of centenarian marathon runners or body builders in their 90s – they are exceptional – but we don’t have to give into the ‘pipe and slippers’ just because the clock is ticking. Research has produced an overwhelming amount of evidence to show just how important it is to exercise – at any age. But just the word, exercise, is enough to put us off. So the new mantra should be to just MOVE MORE!

I have listened to, worked with and taught thousands of people who thought they were “past it” or “shouldn’t” or “couldn’t” – but they are not and they should and they can! With encouragement, persistence and a little knowledge, it is amazing what can be achieved. Once you start, just 10 minutes will suffice, the desire to do a little more comes naturally. The benefits can seem minor but they make a huge difference to our quality of life and are self-perpetuating.

MOVE IT

The question I get asked most often is, “What should I do…?”

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but we do know that to stop the clock we should do a combination of strengthening, aerobic and flexibility exercises. These form the basis of everything else and leads to better health, balance and quality of life. This is why I have put together a library of free exercises, guides and videos. They’re all simple, fun and easy-to-follow. Just 20 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise can help you to stay stronger and more mobile. Just go to http://www.moveitorloseit.co.uk/getmoving/ for advice on how to get started.

Professor Janet Lord, expert in active ageing, explains, “…it is never too late to start. Even if you are already beginning to struggle with daily tasks, these exercises will allow you to take control and turn back the clock!”

Click here for the full article

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.

LE

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.

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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.

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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.

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