So for those of you who have yet to have a smart meter my advice today is to make sure you do read meters regularly. In the past we would have our meters read few times a year by our energy suppliers -no longer the case. Most of us have the budget accounts and the onus is on us to read meters to raise bills. I am still surprised how few people realise that the energy suppliers are not entitled to keep large build up of credit and should refund monies to customers.
OK I hold my hands up; whereas we used to read meters religiously/quarterly I left mine longer this time -though mindful due to this lovely weather and longer colder period all our winter heating bills will be heavier this year as will electricity with so many of us working from home. I was surprised however when I submitted my readings on line that the usual online system of a bill being produced hadn’t happened. I kept checking for a few days and eventually entered into the realms of the ‘online chat room’ wherein I had to insist that a bill be raised. I was advised ‘we only do them once a year now!’ Reluctance was the order of the day but I persisted being told it would take 24 hours to be available.
OK -next part of the saga. When I printed off the six months bill it had been split into two parts both for Gas and Electricity as I had changed tariff -fair enough. I hold my hands up again as I perhaps should have read my meters at the end of the old tariff….an error on my part I now see. (Hey I don’t think I have ever done that and looking back should have). In the circumstances my energy supplier have decided to guess my usage for both periods and opting to use the higher previous tariff to bill me for a higher percentage of the bill. I can see that there is no way they can know what my actual usage is nor neither can I prove otherwise. (OK except roughly based on previous years usage if one had submitted quarterly)
So my advice, and after, reporting this strange/unfair practice to Which to investigate and the Ombudsman we can all agree that perhaps many consumers may open themselves up to being overcharged in this way. I am choosing my words carefully here as I am in the middle of a continued complaint. Even the Ombudsman suggested companies will use the onus on customers reading meters as their get out clause.
So please be aware, check and submit readings regularly and definitely read meters as one tariff ends and another starts especially if the newer tariff is a better deal. I did take time to report this as I fear there are many elderly/vulnerable people who may not have access to the internet and may find the new practices of energy suppliers daunting and confusing to say the least. I am sure Martin the money man would be questioning some of these new practices being used with energy suppliers. Maybe smart meters is the safer bet.
There has never been a better time and indeed needed to promote and support local businesses. We are really fortunate in our village to have some great local businesses. Great Pubs; The Holly Bush and The Cricketers who have been so kind to locals and community minded during the past year offering take-aways and deliveries but are now thankfully fully open for business. We just need that summer weather to enjoy the gardens and support their forthcoming events.
However, during the past year I think many of us may have got fed up with cooking whilst, at times, our favourite pubs and restaurants have been shut. Whilst many are now gradually opening there are still many people who are home based more than they would like due to one reason or another…especially the elderly. This is when local delivery services can step in. One such business for tired cooks and perhaps the elderly is Chandlers who provide wonderful Sunday dinners and platters with delivery service. Occasionally I use their services as a treat from cooking for me, and also for my dementia clients and their carers. For the latter this is a real treat and something to look forward to. One of mine has been in catering herself and an excellent home cook but she thoroughly enjoys Chandlers’ menu and the high quality food. I am mindful many people may still feel uncertain about eating out just yet and a take away or home delivery can fill this void meanwhile.
Following one’s dreams is never an easy journey. However, with hard work and dedication and focusing one’s passion the dream will eventually become a reality. To all those students studying hard and making sacrifices it will all be worthwhile in the end.
The past year has been particularly tough for students of all ages with many not having the university experience they had hoped and envisaged. I must confess to feeling concerned for all those young people who have been cooped up in their bedrooms watching lectures online and sitting exams under some very different and challenging circumstances.
So to all those that have managed to pass and exceed their own expectations I salute you for your strength of character… that perhaps even your own parents have been surprised you possess You have all had to dig deep and work hard -but as one card to my own daughter’s success said ‘You’ve smashed this’. Our younger generation will certainly look back on this time in the future and wonder ‘how the hell did I do that?’
For those students who have chosen long and serious courses having a break and having a bit of ‘young life and fun‘ is vital -again this passed year has made that near on impossible. But as we ease away gradually from all the restrictions my advice is to please take time out and reconnect face to face with friends…safely.
I know my own choice to continue my own CPD during lockdown gave me focus, kept me occupied and some resemblance of normality and sense of purpose.
Good luck to all who are continuing to follow that dream…keep at it.
I always like to help promote specific awareness week for charities and illnesses as unless your own family has been personally touched then a little awareness of what other people’s challenges may be does us no harm. So the past week has been Dementia awareness week. Fortunately, I have the great privilege of working with families with loved ones who are meeting the challenge daily.
So my awareness week, in some ways, is as every week….though every day and every session I spend with carers and dementia clients is in itself magical and my knowledge of Dementia grows. This week I have enjoyed all forms of cognitive work with my regular clients and have included both musical and laughter therapy. Lifting spirits with music and laughter makes such a difference. We all have our own personal song book and sense of humour.
There are one or two songs that are extremely special to my clients and recently ‘Getting to know you’ from ‘The King and I’ film seemed so appropriate as my regular visits give me the great opportunity to really get to know the people that need and appreciate the time and support I provide.
This week one of my lovely clients, a female carer, gave me such a lovely heartfelt testimonial for me website. Saying I had ‘been a Godsend’ and ‘always welcome in her home…and thanking me for all the laughs we have.’
My work is demanding but is so very rewarding and I am so thankful I have left my old corporate life for something so worthwhile.
Many people are in fear of Dementia and do not know how to act or behave in the company of somebody who has Dementia. No two cases are the same. However, in my experience of working closely with my lovely dementia clients I can honestly say that getting to know them, their likes, dislikes and their achievements before meeting this challenge can enable great communication and beautiful times for everyone.
There is no doubt that musical therapy is very successful and especially so for somebody that has always had a great appreciation of music. I have had some wonderful sessions over the years and met some ‘great conductors’ who really feel the music. I have one client who really should have been a drummer though plays his harmonica with great zest and we have had many laughs as we both learn to play the spoons until his carer confiscates them from us.
Joking aside the benefits of holding musical sessions and quizzes enables memories of times in their lives to flood back, a sing a long even a happy tear or two. I have often talked about transcient cascading bumps over the years in my blog -which are triggers the senses set off which can prompt a vivid memory. This is true of all the senses i.e. a perfume smell or maybe a baking apple pie which may remind somebody of their mother or grandmother’s cooking.
This week reach out to those you know who are meeting this challenge the greatest gift we can ever give…is our time.
I am recommending: ‘Finding the Light in Dementia’ by Jane M Mullens. A really useful and easy read ideal for carers and families with a loved one meeting the daily challenge of living with Dementia. Great tips and assistance in focusing ways to improve the way we interact with our loved one and at the same time making life slightly easier for ourselves.
Having worked with Dementia clients and their carers and extended families for six years plus this book is a very honest yet practical read. My own experience runs far short of the author’s years of dedication. However, as part of my own reflective reading and continued CPD I found this a positive read and compounded my quest to learn more and help those living with Dementia.
In my previous careers within marketing and public relations I always maintained communication is the key to success for any business and/or individual. This book certainly demonstrates the importance of why and how we chose to communicate.
I have lost count of friends and clients admitting that during the Covid year they have been comfort eating. It is such an easy thing to do when worried, anxious or bored to reach for the biscuit tin or that tempting bar of chocolate.
We joke amongst our friends perhaps…as even I have that ‘we know our relationship with chocolate….we love it’ but in all seriousness the buzz is short lived from that few squares….and before we know it we have eaten the whole bar. Sound familiar?
Sometimes we don’t even know why we are grazing but turning our attention from food to perhaps learning a new skill is a better option and who knows we may even squeeze back into our jeans. A close friend is aiming to lose weight for a special occasion and I have volunteered to join her in her quest to lose a few pounds.
It’s been a long winter and comfort food such as sausage and mash seems far more appealing than a healthy salad but as summer seems to be taking her time to arrive (I am typing this wearing a thick jumper) I am certain that the salad option albeit tougher may just help us both in our quest. I’m going to have water melon and feta for lunch…no choccy!
Well…we can’t blame the weather and Covid for everything and forever so would-be-dieters lets make an effort to get slimmer and healthier we know it suits us better. The more sluggish we feel the harder it is.
I have a lovely client who hides the biscuit tin…but has shown me where it is…I am going to make a conscious effort not to look for it when I go in on Monday.
Happy dieting ladies.
I think if there is one thing 2020 and the pandemic has taught us it has got to be remember what makes us happy and do more of it. In our attempt to care for others in these difficult times we often neglect ourselves. Being thoughtful and putting others more vulnerable first is not a bad thing but we must remember we are important too.
In my support work delivering cognitive therapy to those with Dementia and counselling their amazing carers I constantly remind the carers that they must have a break and do things that give them respite and bring them joy. It may just be a hairdressing appointment or getting away to have a walk or just read a book. Being all consumed by our obligations which we may well carry out from a place of love can take its toll emotionally and physically.
Be kind to yourself as often as you can, don’t be lost in your commitments to the point that you suffer and begin to naturally feel resentful. And…of course laughter is great therapy…and my own mentor used to say ‘laughter is as good as a tonic’. Just yesterday working with one particular special couple we were practising some exercises which included laughter…actually a great deal of laughter.
I love my work, albeit some days are draining emotionally I know the families I am privileged to work with appreciate what I do, so all my studying, training and dedication have been worthwhile.
I confess my writing has been neglected, including my blog which I intend to remedy as I will shortly be starting another course and my blog during study time always acts as a reflective journal. Again…do something that you love and for me this has always been writing and using this love to help others.
Be mindful look to the future and follow your dreams we are all gradually getting back to some normality and the last year has helped many to feel grateful for what they have and those that they love.
As we approach the end of Dementia awareness month I thought I should write a quick post. Dementia is a cruel illness and the ripples reach far and wide to all family and friends. Having Dementia is frightening and those fighting the battle feel vulnerable, and, for those close to them it can be difficult to read how they are feeling and coping with anything that is going on around them.
Patience and understanding are needed constantly, and, for carers this is very draining, and, at times distressing. As always I am reminding those that read my blog to support families that are meeting this challenge daily.
Please read my recent interview with BSY Group confirming the benefits of being a mature student, and, studying the Principles of Dementia Care during this year’s Corona lock-down.
September has been World Alzheimer’s month and I am sadly late helping to increase awareness on this occasion. However, as I work within this sector both with clients with dementia and supporting their carers I know I am making a difference every day. Whenever possible, I try to help with my writing projects and blog to encourage people not to abandon those friends and loved ones with dementia but to continue to visit, include and support both the person meeting the daily challenge and their amazing carers.
How we communicate with somebody with dementia is crucial, learning simple techniques, listening carefully, being patient when they struggle with words, avoid interrupting or finishing what they are trying to say. Keep eye contact and try to be sitting at their level. Always aim to include them in conversations. Try to remember a cheery disposition and positive body language will always help create a relaxed atmosphere.
As with anybody people suffering with dementia like to do things they enjoy –this may sound obvious but it’s true. Additionally, keeping their mind stimulated whether this is reading to them or anything of a creative nature can help them to feel involved and connected. I have helped clients to write some of their memories for their children – an activity I have run in the past in writers’ group. Dementia sufferers find it easier to discuss and recall the past and shared memories can be enjoyed by their children and grandchildren.
My message is to find ways to help support the family and maintain the connection with your friend or family member as they still exist and need your love, time and understanding.